The UTEP Miners improved their record to 2-0 with an exciting 77-76 win over NMSU in front of 11,127 fans at the Don Haskins Center on Saturday night.  The Miners' second consecutive victory to open the season marks the first time in the last five seasons that they were able to accomplish that feat.  The win also snapped UTEP's three game losing streak to their I-10 rivals.

An enthusiastic student section watches UTEP vs. NMSU. (photo by Brandon Cohn)

The Miners' rust from not playing in over a week was evident in the first half as they allowed the Aggies to take a 40-25 lead and shoot 58.1 percent in a dominant performance where it looked as though they would win the game with ease.  As the old expression goes though, there are two halves to a game as the Miners came out poised and determined in the third quarter.

Photo by Brandon Cohn.

In the second half UTEP outscored NMSU 47-34, shot a sizzling 63 percent from the field and outrebounded the Aggies 19-12.  UTEP also stepped up defensively by allowing no players to tally over seven points in the half.  The Miners trailed 52-43 with 14 minutes left in the game before rallying to pull within two points at 52-50 with 12:30 remaining.  The Aggies would take a seven point lead before UTEP went on a 16-8 run to take their second lead of the game at 66-65 with 4:44 left.

The Miners led 75-67 with 2:30 left and survived a late NMSU rally to get the narrow one point victory when Aggies' guard Danile Mullings missed a jumper at the buzzer that would have given NMSU the last second win.  Four Miners scored double digit points, leading scorer Vince Hunter netted 23 and had a double-double for a second consecutive game.  Omega Harris scored 13, Cedrick Lang added 15, and Julian Washburn tallied 11.

Despite struggling from the free throw line going 11 for 20 in the second half, UTEP was resilient enough to get the win.  Undoubtedly UTEP was fortunate to come away with a win considering their slow start and lack of consistency throughout the contest.  Any win is important though and the team will continue to grow from experiences like this particular one.  Next up for the Miners is the Wooden Legacy November 27-30 in Anaheim, California.  They will face Princeton on Thanksgiving day.

Julian Washburn had this to say after the win.

Leading scorer Vince Hunter talked about his performance and the up coming Wooden Legacy.

Here is the box score from the game.