LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) – Round two goes to the Aggies. New Mexico State got even with UTEP in the Battle of I-10 with a 59-56 win over the Miners on Tuesday night.
UTEP won the first meeting in November by 15 points.
CJ Bobbitt came up big for the Aggies, scoring 12 of his 14 points in the second half. Bobbitt was 3-for-4 from the field, 2-for-3 from three-point range and 4-for-4 from the line over the final 20 minutes as the Aggies (5-4) handed the Miners (5-1) their first loss of the season and salvaged a split in the season series.
“It was raw emotion because that [first meeting with UTEP this season] was the first time they’ve beaten us since I’ve been here and they were really happy about it. They just kept talking about it. They got my full attention this time and I made sure of it,” said Bobbit.
NMSU outscored UTEP in the paint (32-22) and controlled the glass (36-28), overcoming a dominant performance by UTEP’s Bryson Williams, who scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half. Williams finished 9-for-13 from the floor, 4-for-6 from three-point range and 5-for-6 from the line while adding nine rebounds for the Miners. Williams, Souley Boum (11 points) and Daryl Edwards (9 points) accounted for 47 of UTEP’s 56 points.
“Give those guys credit. They were a little tougher than us,” said UTEP head coach Rodney Terry. “That’s hard for me to say in terms of the points in the paint. We weren’t as tough as we needed to be and didn’t have the resistance that we needed around the basket.”
Trailing 57-56, the Miners intentionally fouled Bobbitt with 12 seconds remaining in regulation. He drained both shots before Williams and Lathon’s last-ditch attempts from long range were offline.
Johnny McCants scored 13 points and Jabari Rice added 10 points, leading the Aggies to a 25-4 edge in bench scoring.
“I was really nervous before this game because we needed this game,” said NMSU head coach Chris Jans. “We needed a confidence boost. We have to go three games on the road and we hadn’t won a big game yet this season. Certainly we felt like this was a big one for us.”
NMSU will look to build off this rivalry win in a matchup against Washington State on Saturday. UTEP will try and bounce back when they host Arkansas Pine Bluff on Saturday.