The 2023-24 men's basketball season has been a roller coaster ride from the beginning. At times, the Miners look like the kind of team that can role right into the NCAA Tournament. However, this same group also can look like the worst team in Conference USA, which has left Miners fans angry and ready for a change of leadership.

Like the rest of CUSA, the Miners have been good at home. Last night, UTEP played its most complete game of the season in front of the biggest crowd they have had since last year's game against the Aggies. Considering the Miners lost at home last Saturday night to Liberty, 10,511 fans at the Haskins Center was a terrific home court advantage for head coach Joe Golding. The fans were loud and engaged throughout the night. The students also came out in full force to root the Miners against their I-10 rivals. It also makes you wonder if this team would ever lose at home with 10,000 or more fans at every game.

NM State Athletics.
NM State Athletics.

The Aggies hung in during the fist 20 minutes, thanks to Jaden Harris's 16 points. The Miners came out flying in the second half and they outscored NM State 39-22 to cruise to the 25-point win. Tae Hardy led the way with 21 points and freshman David Terrell Jr. added 12 points for the Miners, who improved to 13-11 on the season and 4-5 in league play. The Aggies fell to 11-13 but 5-4 in CUSA.

Miners fans have had the chance to watch freshmen David Terrell Jr., Trey Horton, and Elijah Jones each develop their game over the last few months of the season. Although Horton and Jones have seen sporadic playing time in CUSA contests, Terrell Jr. has become a mainstay in the lineup. His defensive ability combined with his fearless drives to the basket have given Coach Golding a glimpse into the future where he could become the best point guard in the league.

The most frustrating thing about this UTEP team is that they have never been close to duplicating their home performances away from the Haskins Center. The team's biggest struggle in those games is their offense, which struggles to make shots and score points. Although they have been close in a few of them, the Miners are still winless on the road this season, and it is difficult to pack the house like they did last night if they go winless on every conference road trip. Their next two games will not be easy, especially Thursday night in Bowling Green when they battle Western Kentucky. Two nights later, the Miners will play in Murfreesboro against Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders knocked off Florida International by two points on the road last night.

Although UTEP is far from a finished product that could be postseason bound, last night showed the kind of potential this team has when they put everything together.

UTEP beats Austin Peay, 71-63

Gallery Credit: UTEP Zay

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