UTEP snaps six-game losing streak in ‘effort’ win against New Mexico

Adrian Broaddus, Editor-In-Chief

Shaking off six messy consecutive losses, the Miners looked rejuvenated and consistent on Saturday night, impressively shooting 54 percent from the floor and beating out old-time rival New Mexico 88-76 at the Don Haskins Center.

The Miners (2-6) saw double-digit figures of scoring by guards Omega Harris (28), Keith Frazier (16), Kobe Magee (16), Isaiah Osborne (10) and forward Paul Thomas (10).

Interim head coach Phil Johnson commended his team’s win, bouncing back from a 80-60 loss to New Mexico State on Thursday.

“We got great effort from everyone. We had to clean up a lot from New Mexico State,” said Johnson, who won his first game as the Miners’ head coach. “It wasn’t perfect by any means.”

Harris’ season high of 28 points also included him shooting 9-of-11 from the floor, 4-of-4 from 3-point range and 6-of-6 free throws. It came as a relief for the team after Harris experienced an early season “funk,” as Johnson called it.

“I told him, ‘welcome back Omega,'” Johnson said. “I kinda got on him at practice and said ‘this isn’t you.’ He broke through tonight. One turnover in 34 minutes of play is great.”

Harris, who had been battling a back injury throughout this fall, agreed with Johnson and believes he’s back to normal.

“Just came out with intensity,” Harris said. “My back injury got serious and I was playing through it. The yoga helped me a lot.”

In the first half, the Miners held onto a near 19 minute lead, building off 6-0 and 11-2 runs early on. Coming off the bench and contributing significantly for the Miners was freshman Magee, who chipped in 11 points off 5-of-6 from the floor and 1-of-2 from 3-point range.

“I see potential in our young freshman,” Harris said. “They’re out flying crazy. We’re still figuring out who we are and what we can do.”

During the second half, Miners were able to build off their 45-31 lead in the first period. Defensively, they held New Mexico to just 37 percent from the floor and 35 percent from 3-point range.

“The thing I’m most pleased with,” Johnson said regarding holding UNM to 37 percent. “We did a good job on them. We wanted to make sure we made them get to the 3-point line.”

Although the Miners lost the rebound game to New Mexico, 37-33, Johnson commends their ability to keep a slim margin despite being undersized.

“Really amazing,” Johnson said. “We started four guards and played five guards at one point. It was just effort.”

With just two practices under their belt before this game, Magee believed it was the spirit of wanting the game more than the Lobos.

“We were all tired of losing, so we came out hype this game,” he said.

Next up, the Miners (2-6) will play host to Washington State on Dec. 9 in the Don Haskins Center.