Battle of I-10 tips off at the Don Haskins Center


Annabella Mireles

Guard Malik Zachery plays offense against two Aggies players.

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Sports Editor

As 11,315 fans filled the Don Haskins for the UTEP men’s basketball team’s (0-1) home opener and “915” game, New Mexico State University (NMSU) (1-0) came in ready to compete. The UTEP Miners are coming off a loss against No. 12 Texas Nov. 7 at the brand-new Moody Center. Meanwhile, the NMSU Aggies obliterated the New Mexico Highlands University 101-52 to start its season. 

First Half 

With the tip off officially starting at 7:03, Head Coach Joe Golding’s starting five consisted of, junior guard Tae Hardy, senior forward Shamar Givance, junior forward Calvin Soloman, sophomore forward Ze’Rik Onyema and sophomore forward Otis Frazier III. The Miners looked like a new team playing against a much more even opponent in NMSU, who did go 27-7 and 14-4 in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) last season. The UTEP defense forced four turnovers with 15:30 left in the first half and ended the period with 13. The Miners would gain the lead back at 17:27 and would never relinquish it going into the half.  

Hardy ended the half with an explosive jump shot that came from a midcourt steal putting the Miners up 39-31 at the half. Hardy led the Miners with 10 points followed closely by Onyema. UTEP strength in the first half came from the paint (20 points), the bench (12 points) and points off turnovers (12). The Miners also drew six fouls along with two technical fouls from NMSU junior forward Mike Peake and junior guard Deshawndre Washington. 

It did appear, at times, that the team came off as uncoordinated. It is very likely the new team is still building its chemistry. The season is still quite young given that, at several points throughout the half, the team flashed on both sides of the ball. 

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
  • Guard Mario Mckinney playing offense against New Mexico State during the first half.

  • Guard Mario McKinney Jr. looks to shoot the ball against the Aggies.

  • Guard Shamar Givance looks to pass the ball during the last few seconds of the game.

  • Forward Calvin Soloman during the tip-off against New Mexico State University Nov. 12.

  • Guard Jamal Sumlin jumps and celebrates from the sidelines after a play.

  • Guard Tae Hardy yells after shooting a three-pointer.

Navigate Left
Navigate Right

Second Half 

The Miners stumbled out of the locker room to start the half after being outscored 10-8 by the Aggies five minutes into the half. NMSU scored eight second chance points, recovered four offensive rebounds and three defensive rebounds. NMSU managed to close the lead for UTEP 49-41 before a Miner timeout. After the timeout at minute 13:34, UTEP found its footing extending it lead to 55-43 with 11:47 left in the half. 

Hardy led the team in points with 14 to end the game with Onyema coming in a close second with 13 points. Frazier III and junior guard Malik Zachery both led the Miners in assists with three. The only technical fouls came off the bench after a member of Golding’s coaching staff stepped onto the court with 2:37 left in the first half. 

The Miners ended the game with 16 points off turnovers, 12 points off second chances, 24 points off the bench and 34 points from the paint. UTEP managed to complete 44.6 percent of field goals by going 25 of 56. The Miners committed 13 personal fouls but ultimately drew a total of 18 personal fouls from the Aggies. UTEP never played from behind for more than 38:39 of the game, whereas NMSU only had the lead for 33 seconds. 

The Aggies relied heavily on its starters, only managing 10 points from the bench. Both Washington and senior guard Xavier Pinson combined for 38 of NMSU’s 64 points. Eerily enough, The Aggies also ended the game completing 44.6 percent of its field goal attempts. NMSU also matched the Miners in offensive rebounds, with 11, and defensive rebounds, with 24. 

“We held them to four threes, that was our number one key on the board,” Golding said. “NMSU has kicked our butt. One game doesn’t change that, but it sure does feel good tonight.” 

Next up, the UTEP Miners stay in El Paso as Sul Ross State University comes to the Don Haskins Center at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15. Sul Ross University is currently 0-1 after losing to Texas Lutheran University 85-66 Tuesday, Nov. 8. 

The Miners face the Aggies once again at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30 at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram