UTEP vs. NMSU Preview: Three Things to Know Before Tipoff
Round two of the Battle of I-10 will tipoff on Tuesday at the Pan American Center, as the undefeated Miners (5-0) will face off against the Aggies (4-4).
Here are three things to know before tipoff:
Bryson Williams is a force to be reckoned with
After connecting on 15-of-17 shots for 33 points against East Central last Wednesday, UTEP forward Bryson Williams is third in the country in field goal percentage (.745), only behind Kansas' Udoka Azubuike (.797) and Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji (.770), respectively. He put up 15 field goals for the first time in 25-years at UTEP, last done by Antonie Gillespie.
Williams is one of the best two-way players that UTEP has seen in years. He has a smooth touch and plays exceptionally well with his teammates. Foul trouble has gotten him in problems before though, just like the first game against NMSU where he tallied some early fouls that kept him out of the first half.
Nonetheless, Williams is this team's anchor and until defenses figure out a way to stop him, he will continue to score at will. He is making the case for being among the best players in Conference USA.
NMSU, despite a few more losses, still packs a punch
Following their loss to UTEP (65-50), the Aggies have gone 3-3, including a trip to the Cayman Islands and falling in a heavily contested battle against New Mexico (78-77). During the Cayman Islands Classic, NMSU beat Colorado State (78-70 OT) and South Florida (65-45) but lost to George Mason (68-64) in the championship game.
The New Mexico loss put NMSU at 2-3 on the season, which marked the first time in Chris Jans' tenure that the team was below .500. They have been without seniors Clayton Henry and A.J. Harris due to injury. Senior guard Trevelin Queen has been left to lead the Aggies this year, averaging a team-best 16.6 points per game. He also threw down 21 points against the Miners in their first meeting.
Although this Aggies team has faced adversity early on, they still have some significant depth on their squad and will be a tough out for the Miners.
UTEP is still yet to win a game on the road under Rodney Terry
This 2019 season has been a ton of "new" for the Miners. It was the first time beating NMSU and New Mexico in a season since the 1996-97 season. They have been putting up some nice individual stats and are among the best in the country in defending shots from the floor.
But this firey start for the Miners has not faced true adversity yet.
Under second-year coach Rodney Terry, the Miners have not yet won a road game and this will be their first attempt at achieving it against the Aggies. They finished last year 0-13 on the road with the group of young players.
“I told our guys, we’re going to go play in a very hostile environment and a hornet’s nest,” UTEP coach Rodney Terry said in a release. “We’re going to play a team that’s extremely eager and excited to play us, and we’re going to have to be excited and eager to go on the road and compete against a really good team on their home court.”
To note, the Miners will use sophomore guard Kaden Archie off the bench in this game. He was recently made eligible and now the TCU transfer will get his biggest test yet against the Aggies. Archie scored seven points, along with a steal and assist in 24 minutes of action in his debut against East Central on Wednesday.