Miners’ tough defense tames Lobos as UTEP stays unbeaten at 4-0

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Miners’ tough defense tames Lobos as UTEP stays unbeaten at 4-0

UTEP junior forward Bryson Williams drives to the basketball against UNM at the Don Haskins Center.

UTEP junior forward Bryson Williams drives to the basketball against UNM at the Don Haskins Center.

Michael Cuviello

UTEP junior forward Bryson Williams drives to the basketball against UNM at the Don Haskins Center.

Michael Cuviello

Michael Cuviello

UTEP junior forward Bryson Williams drives to the basketball against UNM at the Don Haskins Center.

Michael Cuviello, Sports Editor

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With three starting players in foul trouble, the UTEP men’s basketball team held on to beat the previously unbeaten New Mexico Lobos 66-63, Tuesday to improve to 4-0 on the season. 

Sophomore point guard Jordan Lathon’s jumper at the 27second mark put the Miners back in the lead for good as UTEP lost the lead with about a minute to go. After scoring only 2 points in the first 35 minutes of the contest, Lathon went on to score 8 points in the final 5 minutes versus New Mexico. Finishing with 10 points four rebound and two steals for the gameLathon was clearly the leader of the team whenever he was on the floor. 

I was in foul trouble early, and I just stayed ready, Lathon saidI saw I had the center on me, and I got to a pullup jumperAs a point guard your role is to be the leader of a team.” 

am proud of my guys the way they hung tough tonight,” Head Coach Rodney Terry saidJordan is not afraid of the moment. He learned a lot last year and played a lot of significant minutes. 

The foul disparity between the Miners and Lobos was a significant factor in keeping the game closer than it should have been. New Mexico went to the charity stripe 18 more times than the Miners did in this game.  Fortunately, the Lobos only made 68 percent of their free throws to go along with its 38 percent shooting from the field. Doing more with less at the freethrow line, the Miners shot 84 percent for the game to go along with its 42 percent from the field. 

Starting strong with 10 straight points after New Mexico’s first score, UTEP seemed like it might blow the Lobos out. New Mexico put to bed any notion of that idea with the next 11 points to take the lead about halfway through the first half. The rest of the half was a tight contest as the teams finished tied at 30 with UTEP’s Lathon and junior forward Bryson Williams only playing sparingly with foul trouble. Sophomore Forward Efe Odigie was a significant factor in keeping the game close to this point with 10 first-half pointsOdigie finished the game with 12 points and a team-leading seven rebounds. 

Taking up much of the ball handling slack with Lathon in foul trouble, sophomore guard Souley Boum never left the floor during the game, playing every minute. Boum previously played 38 minutes in the win versus I-10 rival New Mexico State (NMSU)While Boum was in the lineup a lot in both games, he also struggled shooting from the floor in both games. After going 1-8 versus NMSU, Boum followed that up with a 3-13 night versus New Mexico.   Boum finished with 10 points and four assists on the night. 

Leading the Miners in scoring for the game was Darryl Edwards, who finished with 18 points and was instrumental in making critical shots in the victory. Edwards shot 7-15 from field and 3-10 on threepointers. 

“I had to find other ways to help the team, try to get big plays in the paint, Edwards said. 

Williams was in foul trouble the whole game and was limited to 20 minutes but still finished with 9 points, five rebounds and two steals. The Miners ability to use its threeheaded arsenal of Williams, Odigie and junior Eric Vila give the team the ability to withstand a big man in foul trouble. 

For the Lobos, it was all JaQuan Lyle who scored 19 points and shot more free throws than the entire UTEP team with 15 for him and 13 for the Miners. The Lobos also won the battle of boards with 36 rebounds to UTEP’s 31. New Mexico had averaged over 90 points a game coming into this matchup. 

At times the Miners seemed tentative forsaking some open jumpers but better ball movement in the second half set up better scoring opportunities as well as a smothering defense that made plays when it had to. 

After going undefeated versus New Mexico teams, the Miners will now face an Oklahoma team, hosting Division II East Central University 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 27, at the Don Haskins Center. 

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