UTEP 66 – UNM 63: Miners Finish Lobos and Improve to 4-0
UTEP basketball's riveting season keeps rolling.
In front of 6,171 lively fans, the Miners (4-0) held rivals New Mexico (4-1) to 38 percent shooting (19-of-49) and used clutch performances from grad transfer Daryl Edwards and sophomore Jordan Lathon to defeat the Lobos, 66-63.
The game was dramatically back-and-forth, featuring 11 lead changes and eight times when the score was tied. New Mexico entered this game averaging 93 points per game but turned the ball over 18 times against a tough UTEP defense that had nine steals.
The Miners shot 43 percent from the floor (24-of-56), proving to be enough for the win.
In the first half, the Miners opened with a 10-0 run, while the Lobos matched it with a 9-0 run of their own. Lathon was forced to watch the majority of the opening half from the bench because of two early fouls. It was their bench, made up of Efe Odigie, Nigel Hawkins, Tydus Verhoeven and Deon Stroud, which helped the Miners close out a solid opening half. Both teams were tied, 30-30, at the break.
The first five minutes of the second half was outstanding for the Miners. They got off to a hot 12-5 run, where Edwards scored nine points in five minutes.
Still, the Lobos would not let up.
They used a more efficient method of scoring in the second half, propelled by their star guard JaQuan Lyle and forward Carlton Bragg. New Mexico shot 40 percent from the floor in the second half, but could not connect on 3-pointers, going a rough 2-for-10. More importantly, the Lobos finished the game having missed 11 free throws (20-of-31).
With just 27 seconds left in the game, Lathon buried a go-ahead jumper, eventually leading to the big win. He scored all 10 of his points in the second half, including four rebounds, two assists, two steals and four turnovers.
Edwards led the way for UTEP with 18 points, four assists and three steals, followed by Odigie's 12 points and seven boards off the bench. Forward Bryson Williams finished with a humble nine points and five rebounds in 20 minutes. Guard Souley Boum also had 10 points and co-led the Miners in assists (4).
“[Daryl Edwards] played great on both ends,” Terry said. “He had to guard really hard on [JaQuan] Lyle and he came down on the other end and we had to rely on him making some shots. He’s played in a lot of big game playing at LSU in the SEC. It’s nice to have some experience to lead our young guys.”
Lyle was New Mexico's leading scorer, finishing with 19 points on 4-of-12 shooting and four assists. His tough shooting night and four turnovers could be credited to Edwards, who locked him down through the majority of the night.
The revitalized men's basketball team beat Texas Tech (70-60) in a charity exhibition game to kick-start the momentum for this year, followed by their 15-point win over NMSU (65-50).
A win over New Mexico only adds more quality to UTEP's early-season resume.
“We had a great crowd, a great community that respects basketball, and understands basketball,” second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We’re going to continue to put a good product on the floor not only represents the community, but also the university the right way. We want the people to continue to get behind us and fill The Don.”
The Miners will host East Central next Wednesday, Nov. 27, at the Don Haskins Center, followed by their first road game against NMSU (Dec. 3) in the rematch of the Battle of I-10.
Photo gallery by Gaby Velasquez: