UTEP Impresses During Home Opener Versus NM State, 67-64
The UTEP men's basketball squad impressed in front of 11,315 fans at the Don Haskins Center and beat their rivals NM State, 67-64.
This is the first win against the Aggies in the Joe Golding era, as the defense forced 20 turnovers throughout the contest. Tae Hardy (14 points), Ze’Rik Onyema (career-high 13 points) and Mario McKinney Jr. (10 points) all hit double figures in scoring.
In a contest in which they led for 38 of the 40 minutes, the Miners held strong for the duration of the contest.
"I thought we looked really good defensively tonight for the most part," said head coach Joe Golding. "I thought we had a great crowd tonight and a great student turnout. New Mexico State has dominated this series, there’s no secret to that. They’ve got great players, coaches and fanbases, but we got one (tonight). We’re excited to get the win."
UTEP last beat NM State on Nov. 12 in 2019 under former coach Rodney Terry. They had lost six of the last eight matchups going into tonight's game.
“We held them to four threes, that was our number one key on the board,” Golding said. “Then we turned them over 20 times. NM State has kicked our butt. One game doesn’t change that, but it sure does feel good tonight. I’m happy for our fans and for our players. We’re going to enjoy tonight, I promise you that.”
Other players that looked sharp included Otis Frazier III, who totaled six points, four rebounds and three assists. Forward Calvin Solomon finished with seven points and five turnovers.
UTEP shot 45% from the field and just 23% from 3-point range, while only going 14-of-24 from the charity stripe. They had 34 points in the paint, 12 second chance points and 24 points from the bench.
NM State was led by Xavier Pinson, who finished with 20 points and five rebounds, along with combo guard Deshawndre Washington (18 points, 12 rebounds). They shot 45% from the field and 25% from 3-point range.
Up next, UTEP hosts Sul Ross State on Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. The game can be heard on 600 ESPN El Paso with a 6:30 p.m. pregame show.