Miners start basketball season with balanced win


Daniel Rey Perez

Junior forward Bryson Williams powers through a defender late in the second half to score another two points against New Mexico Highlands University at the Don Haskins Center.

Michael Cuviello, Sports Editor

The UTEP men’s basketball team began the highly anticipated basketball season with a comfortable win over the New Mexico Highlands Cowboys 93-70 in front of more than 3,000 fans at the Don Haskins Center Tuesday night. 

The Miners only trailing moment in the game was briefly in the first half. All five starters finished in double-digit points for the night with sophomore forward Efe Odigie leading the team off the bench with 18 points in 22 minutes of action. A noticeably slimmer and more muscular Odigie was very efficient on the night shooting 7-of-9 from the field while also pulling down six rebounds. The All-Conference freshman showed an improved range on his shot as well as a more consistent effort. 

“I’m just developing that motor now I feel like I had last year,” Odigie said. 

Starting with a 7-0 lead, the Miners went to Odigie early off the bench when junior Bryson Williams picked up two fouls early in the game. Williams played sparingly in the first half, but his presence showed whenever he was on the floor. Williams would finish the contest with 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting with seven rebounds and two blocks. The Cowboys had a quick spark early in the first half, where they went on an eightpoint run to take the lead with 14 minutes in the first half. 

“I was pleased with our effort. I thought Efe came in and gave us a great lift when Bryson picked up two early fouls in the first half,” UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “Efe did a great job both offensively and defensively. We’ll have to have guys step and hold the fort down and I thought (Odigie) did that for us with Bryson in foul trouble.” 

For the next eight minutes the Cowboys would not score a point as they fell behind 25-8. The Miners went into halftime with a 20point lead of 44-24 holding the Cowboys to 18 percent shooting from the field.

About midway through the second half, the Miners went into a lull of unforced turnovers and some sloppy play, as well as some clutch three-point shooting from New Mexico Highlands, brought the game back within ten points. The Cowboys shot over 50 percent from the three-point line in the second half, which for a short time brought the score closer. 

“We let these guys get going a little bit, I have to give them credit, they made shots in the second half, but at the end of the day guys have to continue to work the game,” Terry said. 

At around the five-minute mark, the Miners pulled away from the Cowboys to finish out the game-winning 93-70. The Miners showed a balanced attack all night and excellent ball movement with sophomores Jordan Lathon and Souley Boum sharing the distribution duties in a very efficient manner running the offense. Lathon ended the night with no turnovers in 32 minutes of play. 

Junior forward Eric Vila led the team in assists with six and added a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Vila was a force on both ends of the floor with his length posing  problems for the Cowboys. 

Senior transfer guard Darryl Edwards continued his hot shooting from the exhibition game against Texas Tech,  hitting 5 of 8 shots, including three beyond the arc for 17 points on the night. 

ry from anTerry used a nine-man rotation with sophomore Nigel Hawkins missing the game due to injury. Many times, last season, Terry only had nine players or less available on the entire roster to play. 

The Miners’ face I-10 rival New Mexico State 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12 at the Don Haskins Center.