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UTEP Men’s Basketball Stomps NM State in Battle of I-10, 74-49

UTEP Athletics

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- The UTEP men’s basketball team vaulted out to a 12-0 lead and never looked back on the way to a wire-to-wire 74-49 dismantling of I-10 rival NM State in front of 10,511 rowdy fans at the Don Haskins Center Saturday evening. The Miners’ (13-11, 4-5 CUSA) 25-point margin of victory is their biggest against the Aggies (11-13, 5-4 CUSA) in 20 years when they also enjoyed a 25-point rout (85-60) at home on Dec. 17, 2003. 

Tae Hardy poured in a game-high 21 points, aided by draining a career-best six triples. He added four rebounds, three assists and two steals and finished with a team-best +26 in the contest. Back-to-back CUSA Freshman of the Week David Terrell Jr. came off the bench to record 12 points-all in the second half- to go along with five boards, one assist and one steal.

Plenty of other Miners got after it to buoy their efforts. Otis Frazier III flirted with a double-double (nine points, eight boards), while also recording three helpers and three steals. Calvin Solomon notched six points, a season and contest-most 11 rebounds and two steals in only 15 minutes of action. Zid Powell tallied eight points, five caroms, a game-high four assists and two steals. Kevin Kalu was solid with five points, five rebounds and a career-best three steals. Jon Dos Anjos pitched in six points, thanks to two three pointers, to help the Miners’ reserves contribute 29 points (only eight from NM State).

“I want to thank the crowd, it was incredible tonight,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. “We had some success with it. When that place is like that, it’s magical. I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for Jason Hooten. He’s done a tremendous job with NM State. He’s a friend, I hate competing against him. That’s just life on the road in Conference USA right now. It’s tough to win on the road. I’m proud our guys, they played terrific and fed off the crowd. Our start was great. NM State came back, made a little run, got it to eight at halftime and then six in the second half, and we were able to pull away. Offensively in the second half we were much better. We only had four turnovers (in the second half). We valued the basketball and were able to execute.”

UTEP connected on 41.3 percent (26-63) in the game, including draining a season-high tying 10 triples (most vs. DI foe this year) on 24 attempts (41.7 percent). The Miners hammered the Aggies on the boards, 48-33, aided by pulling down 18 offensive rebounds (most vs. DI opponent this season). UTEP outscored the visitors, 22-3, in second-chance points as result. Frazier III had six offensive rebounds while Solomon posted five.  

The Orange and Blue’s defense fed off the boisterous crowd, holding NM State to a frigid 34.6 percent (18-52), including a brutal 10.5 percent (2-19) from distance. UTEP, which entered the game pacing the nation in both turnovers forced per game and steals per contest, lived up to that billing by recording 14 steals on 20 giveaways by NM State.   

It marked the Miners’ second wire-to-wire win in the past three contests and the fifth total this season. Furthermore, NM State became the first UTEP opponent on the campaign to fail to eclipse 50. It’s the fewest points allowed by UTEP in a CUSA contest since the Orange and Blue kept Charlotte to 47 in a 74-47 triumph on Feb. 27, 2021.

The Miners bolted to a 12-0 lead, prompting the Aggies to call timeout with still 15:29 to play in the opening period. Three straight 3-pointers, with one by Frazier III and a pair by Hardy, got things going. UTEP then got the conventional old-fashioned 3-point play courtesy of Solomon to cap the surge. 

NM State struck back with seven in a row over the next two minutes before Hardy filled up treys on consecutive possessions to reinstate a double-digit cushion (18-7, 12:17, 1H). It was a 10-point differential when Powell came up with the steal and went coast-to-coast for the flush. After Solomon split a pair of free throws, the Orange and Blue’s lead was 13 (22-9, 9:25, 1H). 

Similar to before, the Aggies had an answer. It came in the form of an 8-0 run to whittle UTEP’s edge to five (22-17, 7:50, 1H). Trey Horton III buried a triple, one of UTEP’s seven in the half, to halt the push. A driving basket by Powell extended it to 10 (27-17, 6:13, 1H). It was essentially back-and-forth the remainder of the stanza, with the Miners carrying an eight-point advantage (35-27) into the locker room. 

Both sides used And-1s to trade scores to start the second half, with Powell providing it for the Orange and Blue. After the Aggies cut it the margin to six, UTEPripped six consecutive points to vault ahead by 12 (48-36, 13:41, 2H) and force a timeout for NM State. The buckets were from three different Miners (Solomon, Camper Jr. and Terrell Jr.). 

UTEP then got a stop and Terrell Jr. banked home a lay-up off a great find from Powell, extending the run to eight straight. Following another UTEP stop, Terrell Jr. scored again to make it 10-0 run. The Aggies halted it with a lay-up coming out of the 12-minute media, trimming the Miners’ lead to 14 (52-38, 10:54, 2H). NM State was hanging around, down 11 (55-44) with 8:39 to play, but it would get no closer.

Much to the delight of the Orange and Blue faithful, UTEP peeled off 12 straight points to bring the roof off the Haskins Center. It started with a bang on a pick-and-roll dunk, followed by a triple from Hardy and then one by Dos Anjos. Terrell Jr. accounted for the final four points in the surge. 

The margin swelled to as many as 27 before NM State scored on its last possession to account for the final points in the tilt.

UTEP opens up a two-game roadswing when it plays at Western Kentucky in a nationally-televised tilt (CBS Sports Network) at 5 p.m. MT/6 p.m. CT on Thursday. Jon Teicher (43rd year) will be on the call on "The Home of UTEP Basketball" 600 ESPN El Paso and the UTEP Miners App.

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Bea Martinez

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