UTEP men’s basketball loses a close one against rival NMSU


Gaby Velasquez

The NMSU Aggies beat the Miners at the battle of I-10 62-58 on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at the Don Haskins Center.

Isaiah Ramirez, Staff Reporter


The UTEP men’s basketball team (2-4) lost a nail-biter to rival NMSU (5-1) 62-58 at the Don Haskins Center in front of a jam packed crowd of 6,008 people.

This is the ninth straight victory for the Aggies against the Miners, and fourth straight year they have swept the season series.

Turnovers and free throws were the Miners kryptonite as they shot 7-of-14 from the charity stripe, and had 22 turnovers for the game.

“We work on free throws but we have to be able to knock them down,” first year head coach Rodney Terry said.

It was a different story for their counterpart as the Aggies were 88 percent from the line shooting 8-of-9.

It was neck and neck in the closing minutes as the Miners found themselves down by two, 58-56, with two minutes left in the game.

Aggies junior guard Terrell Brown would knock down a jumper with 15 seconds left on the clock after a mid-range jumper by UTEP’s freshman center Efie Odiege with six seconds left the Miners were again down by two 60-58.

Brown would be fouled on the next possession and knock down both free throws and seal the game for the Aggies.

“We have to be able to close out games and that’ll come with time,” Terry said.

The Miners definitely played  a more competitive game than the first outing against the Aggies as they were routed 96-69 in the Miners second game of the season.

“I thought the guys played a whole better than the first time around and knew what they were ready for,” Terry added.

Sophomore guard Evan Gilyard led all scorers with 18 points and had nine rebounds and four assists, after being named Conference-USA player of the week.

New Mexico State’s junior forward Ivan Aurrecoecheca led the Aggies with 15 points and six rebounds.

“I thought he stepped up well tonight and did some good things down in the post,” head coach Chris Jans said.

The Miners were gifted junior forward Ountae Campbell after the NCAA allowed the transfer to play right before game time.

Campbell had a solid first outing for the Miners with nine rebounds, three points, four assists, and was a strong defensive presence on the court.

Campbell also provided rotation relief as the Miners only had eight players rotating in the lineup due to transfers sitting out, and using the players that have already been inserted in the rotation.

“Ountae’s a great kid and it definitely helps having extra bodies out there on the court,” Terry said.

Freshman forward Kaosi Ezeagu was also a solid defensive presence with nine rebounds, but did a lot of things that won’t come up on the stat sheet including consistent hustle,constant on-ball pressure, as well as a strong defensive mindset.

Efie Odiege who was recently named C-USA’s freshman of the week finished the game with 12 points and four rebounds.

“The big fella is going to continue to grow throughout the season and having somebody like Kaosi out here hustling on the defensive end will only get him better,” Terry said

UTEP was lit up the Don Haskins Center from three-point land in the first half as the Miners were 4-of-8 from three, but went cold in the second half shooting 1-of-6.

New Mexico State would capitalize off the Miners season-high 22 turnovers with 16 points off turnovers.

“We’ll continue to get better and this time of the year is the right time to work on what we need to improve on as the season goes on,” Terry said.

UTEP will be back at home again Saturday Dec.1 at 7 p.m. against Northwestern State (2-5).