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Men’s basketball heads to Tucson to face Arizona

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UTEP men’s basketball faces Pac-12 powerhouse Arizona on Wednesday, Nov. 14

After suffering their first loss of the season against New Mexico State, the UTEP men’s basketball team looks to prepare for yet another battle on the road as they face Pac-12 powerhouse Arizona at the McKale Memorial Center, on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

This is the first time the Miners (1-1) will play in Tucson, AZ, since 2012, while facing the Wildcats (2-0) for the first time since the 2014-15 season when the two teams clashed in the Don Haskins Center.

Sophomore guard Evan Gilyard produced his first back-to-back 20-point games of his career after leading the Miners in scoring in their first two games, scoring 24 points against UT Permian Basin and 25 against NMSU.

Freshman forward, Efe Odigie, registered his second straight double-digit performance after scoring 12 points against NMSU, the freshman also grabbed nine rebounds for the second straight game to open his UTEP career. Odigie was the Miner’s second-leading scorer in the season opener against UT Permian Basin scoring 23 points.

One thing to look out for is the season debut of freshman guard Nigel Hawkins. Hawkins has been sidelined two consecutive games with a hand, wrist injury. The freshman hopes to make his return soon.

If UTEP wants to have a chance against the Wildcats, they have to play without fouling. In two games senior, forward Paul Thomas has struggled with foul trouble. Thomas has fouled out of both games. Against NMSU freshman forward Kaosi Ezeagu, he struggled to be a difference maker, picking up early fouls in the first and second half. Ezeagu fouled out of the game with zero points and rebounds in seven minutes. In the season opener, the freshmen forward scored 10 points and nine rebounds.

Head coach Rodney Terry has utilized a seven-man rotation two games into the season, if Hawkins can play Wednesday, it will give the Miners another body and much-needed scoring.

The lack of a bench hurt the Miners when they played NMSU. The Aggies bench outscored UTEP 52-3.

Arizona, on the other hand, is coming off back-to-back dominant wins at home, they will look to make it three straight against UTEP.

The Wildcats defeated Houston Baptist in their season opener, 90-60, they followed their 30 point victory with a 21 point victory over Cal Poly, 82-61, on Sunday, Nov. 11.

Senior forward Ryan Luther who struggled to find his shot against Houston Baptist scored only six points but against Cal Poly, the senior led all Wildcats with 17 points shooting seven-of-nine from the field.

Freshman guard Brandon Williams leads the team in assists, with 13. Sophomore guard Brandon Randolph led all Wildcats with 25 points in the season opener, the sophomore followed up with another double-digit performance against Cal Poly scoring 10.

So far in the young season, UTEP has committed more turnovers than assists, 28 and 20 respectively. UTEP must manage to not turn the ball over, as Arizona as capitalized off points off turnovers, scoring 13 and 21 points in their first two games.

After the clash with Arizona, UTEP returns home for a game against Eastern New Mexico on Monday, Nov. 19, tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Don Haskins Center.

Daniel Mendez may be reached at [email protected]

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Daniel Mendez, Staff reporter
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Men’s basketball heads to Tucson to face Arizona