EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Battle of I-10 returns to the Don Haskins Center for the first time in two years, as UTEP is set to host New Mexico State on Friday night. The Aggies won the first meeting, 77-71, last month at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces. The Miners will be looking to return the favor on their own home floor.

For NMSU (5-2), it’s their second rivalry game this week after losing to in-state rival New Mexico on Tuesday, 101-94. It was the Aggies’ second consecutive game without head coach Chris Jans on the bench, after he was placed on COVID protocol last week. Sources confirm to KTSM that Jans will be cleared in time for Friday’s game against the Miners.

“The familiarity with UTEP will help us a little bit with the quick preparation,” said associate head coach James Miller, who filled in for Jans the past two games. “At the end of the day, we have to learn from this [loss to UNM]. This is who we were, and who we are currently — unfortunately. If we are not better come Friday, we’ll have the same result.”

UTEP (4-2) hasn’t played in nine days after beating Florida A&M, 67-53, without guards Souley Boum and Christian Agnew. Both players were placed on COVID protocol ahead of last week’s Golden Turkey Classic, but both have since been cleared and will return to the lineup on Friday night.

“I thought [NMSU} was the tougher, more mature team at their place. I don’t think there’s any question about that,” said UTEP head coach Joe Golding. “They out-rebounded us, they made all the toughness plays and all the 50/50 plays. That has to change. We’ll see if we’ve gotten any tougher in the last few weeks.”

The Aggies led the Miners by as many as 19 points in the first meeting on Nov. 13, and NMSU dominated the boards with 10 more rebounds than UTEP. They also tallied 11 offensive rebounds that led to 12 second chance points, which Golding believes was the difference in the game.

“I think [rebounding] is the number one key on the board. It’s something we’ve been talking about religiously over the last three or four days,” said Golding. “The bottom line is that we have to go out and do it. We have to execute, put a body on someone and go get a rebound. They are one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country.”

Tip-off at ‘The Don’ is scheduled for 6 p.m. The game will air on Stadium.

NMSU game notes (Courtesy: NM State Athletics)

• For the sixth time in the last nine seasons, the NM State men’s basketball team is hoping to secure a season sweep of one of its biggest rivals. The Aggies head to the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas, for a Friday evening showdown with UTEP. Tip-off is set for 6:00 p.m. MT.
• Fans unable to attend the 220th meeting between the Aggies and Miners can catch all the action on Stadium, the Stadium apps, watchstadium.com/live and free streaming platforms (XUMO, TUBI, Roku Channel, STIRR and Twitch). Noah Coslov and Tim Scraborough will be on the call.
• Over the airwaves, legendary radio play-by-play man Jack Nixon will set up shop courtside to call the action.
• Nixon’s play-by-play and analysis can be heard on 99.5 Zia Country FM in Las Cruces, N.M., and nationwide on The Varsity Network app.
• Affiliate stations of the Aggie Sports Network can be tuned in to in Artesia, N.M. (990 AM), Carlsbad, N.M. (1240 AM), Gallup, N.M. (94.9 FM), Alamogordo, N.M. (103.7 FM) and El Paso, Texas (1380 AM). All of those stations will also carry Nixon’s commentary of Friday night’s tilt.

NM STATE vs. UTEP | SERIES HISTORY & TIDBITS
• The second-lengthiest series in the history of the program behind their one against in-state rival New Mexico, the Aggies have battled UTEP 219 times dating back to 1915 with the Aggies owning a 117-102 all-time mark against the Miners. On November 12, 2019, the Aggies saw their nine-game winning streak against the Miners get snapped after UTEP claimed a 65-50 victory inside the Don Hawkins Center.
• Only two events – World War II and the COVID-19 pandemic – have prevented NM State and UTEP from meeting on annual basis since 1923. By failing to play last season, it marked the first time since 1944 in which the Aggies and Miners didn’t duke it out on the hardwood.
• The Aggies’ longest winning streak in the all-time series came between 1932 and 1940 when they won 20-straight over UTEP.
• NM State’s nine-game winning streak headed into the 2019-20 campaign was its third-longest in the history of the series and heading into Friday’s tilt the Aggies have won nine of the last 10 and 14 of the last 16 matchups between the two programs. Three of the Aggies’ last 10 wins have come by 20 points or more.
• NM State bench boss Chris Jans is 6-1 (.857) against UTEP during his tenure in Las Cruces.
• The Miners are just one of a multitude of current Conference USA squads the Aggies have done battle with in the history of men’s basketball at NM State. All-time, the Aggies hold a 173-133 (.565) winning percentage against current C-USA programs and are above the .500 mark against each team from that league they have played with the exception of Charlotte (0-1) and Southern Miss (1-9).
• A little over 10-percent (10.7-percent) of NM State’s 1,622 program wins have come at the hands of current C-USA institutions.

FAST BREAK POINTS
• NM State head coach Chris Jans has missed the Aggies’ last two games due to COVID-19 protocol.
• Oddly enough, NM State head coach Chris Jans has a better record in the Don Haskins Center than UTEP head coach Joe Golding does. Golding, who is in his first season as UTEP’s head coach, possesses a 3-1 (.750) record in the Miners’ home facility while Jans is 4-1 (.800) inside that same location.
• Last season, NM State played a pair of games inside the Don Haskins Center after not being able to play any games in the state of New Mexico due to in-state COVID-19 restrictions.
• Teddy Allen’s 31-point outburst Tuesday night in the Aggies’ setback to New Mexico was the first 30+ point performance by an Aggie since 2018. AJ Harris was the last NM State player to drop 30 or more points, putting in 33 in a 98-94 victory at New Mexico on Nov. 17, 2018.
• NM State is looking to bounce back from its second loss of the season and fortunately for the Aggies consecutive losses have been somewhat of a rarity during Chris Jans’ tenure as head coach. The Aggies are 22-4 (.846) in games directly after a loss during Jans’ tenure. Jans’ teams at NM State have had just two losing streaks – one of two games in 2017-18 and another of three games in 2020-21.
• In Tuesday night’s loss at New Mexico, the Aggies gave up 100 or more points to the opposition for the first time in the Chris Jans coaching era. Before Tuesday, the last time NM State let a foe hit the century mark came in 2017 when it claimed a 107-101 WAC win at UTRGV on Feb. 18. Since 2010, only three NM State opponents (Nevada, New Mexico and UTRGV) have amassed 100 or more points in a game.
• Now in his fifth season in an NM State uniform, Johnny McCants has broken into the program’s top-ten leaders in blocked shots. McCants, a Las Cruces, N.M., product has 87 rejections to his credit as a collegian which are the 10th-most all-time by any Aggie.
• Allen is the only Aggie who has scored 10 or more points in each of the team’s seven games this season. The team’s leading scorer at 18.0 points per game, Allen has also hit 90.9-percent of his free throws. That percentage leads the WAC and ranks 36th in the nation.

LAST TIME OUT | New Mexico 101 at NM State 94 | Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021
• A power outage of nearly 50 minutes inside the Pan American Center during the game’s first media timeout didn’t affect the offenses for either team, but in the end it was New Mexico who came away with a 101-94 win Tuesday night.
• In the Aggies third-straight loss to the Lobos, NM State saw their longtime in-state rivals amass over one-third of their points from the free throw line in a contest which featured a total of 77 attempts from that distance.
• Teddy Allen and Jabari Rice did all they could to keep the Aggies within striking distance all night. That pair of NM State backcourt players combined for 52 of the team’s 94 points (55.3-percent) with Allen generating a season and game-high 31 points on an 8-of-16 effort from the field.
• Allen and Rice went a combined 21-of-23 from the free throw stripe and became the first Aggie duo to combine for 50 or more points against New Mexico since AJ Harris (31) and Terrell Brown (20) did so in a 98-94 NM State win in Albuquerque back on Nov. 17, 2018.
• Will McNair dropped in a career-high 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting while adding aeight rebounds. Allen’s rebounding total of nine matched his career-high and represented the highest total by an Aggie Tuesday night.
• Jaelen House matched Allen with a 31-point performance to lead New Mexico. Jay Allen-Tovar came off the bench for the Lobos and turned in a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double.
• NM State head coach Chris Jans missed his second-straight game due to COVID-19 protocols. His record against New Mexico slipped to 4-3 after Tuesday’s result.

LAST TIME OUT vs. UTEP | NM State 77, UTEP 71 | Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021
• In the first matchup between the longtime borderland rivals in nearly two full years, NM State used a key 21-9 run over a span of nearly six minutes in the second half to earn a 77-71 victory over UTEP inside the Pan American Center.
• NM State’s second-straight victory over the Miners was fueled by a quartet of Aggies who finished with 10 or more points. Jabari Rice scored 12 of his team-high 15 points in the second half while Teddy Allen and Yuat Alok contributed 13 apiece.
• Donnie Tillman finished two rebounds shy of a double-double, going for 12 points and eight rebounds. Staying in the frontcourt, Johnny McCants added six points as well as a game-high nine rebounds.
• Virshon Cotton made his NM State debut during the team’s triumph over UTEP. The LIU transfer contributed five points – all from the free throw line – as well as one assist in eight minutes of action.
• Teddy Allen’s second – and final – three-pointer of the game hiked the Aggies’ lead to 70-51 with 7:38 to go. The Miners, however, finished the game on a 20-7 run after that while limiting the Aggies to just a single field goal make. Souley Boum poured in a game-high 23 points for the Miners off the bench in his 2021-22 debut.
• The victory made NM State 9-1 in its last 10 matchups with the Miners and 14-2 in its last 16 tilts against them.
• For head coach Chris Jans, he hiked his all-time record against the Miners to 6-1 thanks to the victory.
• NM State moved its 2021-22 record to 2-0 with the victory, marking the third time in head coach Chris Jans‘ tenure that the Aggies started a season with back-to-back wins.

SCOUTING UTEP
• After suffering their first loss of the season to NM State back on Nov. 13, the Miners have won three of their last four games as they prepare to host the Aggies to wrap up a three-game home stand. Two of the Miners’ four victories this season have come against non-NCAA Division I foes (Northern New Mexico and Western New Mexico).
• In order to try and win their second-straight game against NM State at the Don Haskins Center, the Miners will likely be relying on the high-scoring play of guard Souley Boum. It has been a tough start to the 2021-22 campaign for Boum who made his season debut against the Aggies back in mid-November after suffering a broken finger in preseason workouts. After playing in three consecutive games, Boum missed the Miners’ last two tilts due to COVID-19 protocols but is expected to be in the lineup Friday night.
• Boum’s 20.7 points per game lead the Miners while Jamal Bieniemy has continued his strong start to the campaign as well. The junior guard out of New Orleans, La., has finished with 11 or more points in each of the Miners’ six games to rank second behind Boum in scoring at 16.8 points per game.
• While Bieniemy and Boum lead UTEP’s offense, the team’s defense is an all-hands-on-deck unit which stands among the best in the nation at preventing opponents from putting the ball in the basket. The Miners rank eighth nationally in turnovers forced (19.83 per game), 30th in steals per game (9.8) and 36th in scoring defense (59.3 opponent points per game).

THIS DATE IN NM STATE HISTORY
• Nearly half of the 28 games NM State has taken part in on Dec. 3 have been against longtime rivals UTEP and New Mexico. NM State is 14-14 all-time on this date.
• All-time on this date, the Aggies are 2-2 against UTEP on this date and 3-4 against the Lobos.
• The last time NM State and UTEP crossed paths on this date, the Aggies earned a hard-fought 59-56 win at home in 2019.
• NM State has won its last three games on Dec. 3. Head coach Chris Jans is a perfect 2-0 on this date as the Aggies’ bench boss.
• In 1983, the fifth-largest crowd in the history of the Pan American Center filed in to watch NM State drop a narrow 60-59 decision to Texas rival UTEP.
• Three of the 25 largest crowds in the history of the Pan American Center were inside the facility on this date. The opponent in two of those games was UTEP.

COMING UP NEXT
• Not only does Friday night’s matchup with the Miners in El Paso, Texas, represent the second in three consecutive rivalry games for the Aggies, it’s also the starting point of a five-game stretch of true road games. NM State continues its road trip through the first half of the month of December by heading north to Albuquerque, N.M., for a Monday night battle with New Mexico. Tip-off in The Pit that night is set for 7:00 p.m.

UTEP game notes (Courtesy: UTEP Athletics)

The UTEP men’s basketball team (4-2) will shoot for its second straight win when it plays host to NM State (5-2) in round two of the “Battle of I-10” at 6 p.m. MT Friday. The Aggies held off a late rally by the Miners for a 77-71 final result in Las Cruces in both team’s second game of the season on Nov. 13. Since then the Orange and Blue have won three of four, including most recently defeating FAMU, 67-53, on Nov. 24, before breaking for Thanksgiving. The Aggies are 5-2, including being clipped in a high-scoring affair against New Mexico, 101-94, on Nov. 30 last time out. Jon Teicher (41st year) and Steve Yellen (19th year) will be on the call for Friday’s game, which can be followed on 600 ESPN El Paso, the UTEP Miners App and Stadium. For tickets, fans may call the Eisenberg Family Ticket Office at (915) 747-UTEP, email tickets@utep.edu, or visit www.UTEPMiners.com/tickets or in person (Brumbelow Building on UTEP campus, 201 Glory Road) Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

SERIES HISTORY: NM STATE LEADS, 116-104: LAST MEETING: AT NM STATE 77, UTEP 71 (11/13/2021)

NM State leads the all time series with UTEP, 116-104. It is the Miners’ oldest series, while rating as the second oldest for the Aggies. It began in 1914 and the two squads squared off at least twice annually every year since 1944-45 before Covid interrupted that last season. The Orange and Blue are looking for their second straight win in the series when playing in El Paso. This is head coach Joe Golding’s first match-up against NM State in the Sun City, while Aggies’ head coach Chris Jans is 6-1 against the Miners. NM State has won 11 of the last 12, including the six-point victory over the Miners on Nov. 13 earlier this season. That game marked the most points for UTEP against the Aggies in seven years. UTEP tallied 77 in a one-point win on Nov. 22, 2014.

GET TO KNOW NM STATE

NM State returned four starters and five lettermen total from last year’s team that finished 12-8 during a heavily Covid-affected campaign that prevented the Aggies from even playing a game in Las Cruces throughout the entire season. They were one of two teams in the nation without a home game. NM State went 7-6 in WAC action and advanced to the 2021 tournament championship game. The Aggies also brought in 13 newcomers. NM State won three straight and five of six out of the gates before falling to rival New Mexico, 101-94, last time out on Nov. 30. They were picked first in the WAC with transfer Teddy Allen, Johnny McCants, Jabari Rice and Donnie Tillman being named to the All-Preseason team. NM State is under the direction of fifth-year head coach Chris Jans, who is 100-27 in that timeframe.  He is 6-1 against the Miners. Overall Jans is 121-39. Five different players put up at least 7.5 points per game, led by Allen’s 18.0 ppg. McNair keys the charge on the glass at 7.1 rpg. NM State is among the WAC leaders and top-100 nationally for 3-pointers per game (10.4, second/25th), field-goal percentage (46.6-second/94th), rebound margin (+5.1-fourth/94th), 3-point field goal percentage (36.3-fourth/94th) and scoring offense (77.1-fourth/97th). Of the Aggies’ 400 total field goal attempts, half are from distance. Allen is fourth in the WAC with his 18.0 ppg. He also tops the league in total 3-point attempts (54) and is second for triples made (20). New Mexico State is a major university in Las Cruces, N.M., which was founded in 1888 under the name of Las Cruces College. Notable alumni include actor Scott Bailey, who is best known for his playing the role of Sandy Foster on the CBS soap opera Guiding Light, and former Olympic basketball player Chito Reyes. Additionally, Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered the planet Pluto (since reclassified to a dwarf planet), taught astronomy at the school from 1955 until his retirement in 1973.

GOING BACK IN TIME (AT UTEP 67, FAMU 53, NOV. 24, 2021)

UTEP scored the first 11 points on the way to a wire-to-wire 67-53 win against FAMU in front of 4,000-plus fans on Nov. 24 at the Don Haskins Center. Jamal Bieniemy (21 points, five assists, five rebounds), Jorell Saterfield (career-high 14 points, career-best five rebounds), Keonte Kennedy (12 points, team-high nine boards) and Jamari Sibley (career-high 13 points, career-best six rebounds) led the way for the Miners, who were without the services of Conference USA leading scoring Souley Boum and veteran guard Christian Agnew. Both missed their second straight game due to COVID-19 protocols. Tydus Verhoeven added seven gutsy boards to help the efforts in that department, with the Miners holding a 39-32 advantage on the glass. UTEP limited FAMU to 37.5 percent (18-48) from the floor, including just 3-10 (30 percent) on 3-point tosses.

TIP-INS FROM THE FAMU GAME

–  For the third straight contest, the Miners enjoyed a scoring run of at least 10 consecutive points. UTEP peeled off 11 consecutive points to begin the game, which helped it post a wire-to-wire win.

–  Jorell Saterfield set career highs across the board, including points (14), rebounds (five), assists (two), blocks (one), field goals made (five) and attempted (12), 3-pointers made (four) and attempted (nine) and minutes (31).

–  It was a similar story for Jamari Sibley, who established personal bests in points (13), rebounds (seven), blocks (two), 3-pointers made (two) and attempted (three), free throws made (five) and attempted (six) and minutes played (24).

–  Jamal Bieniemy attempted the most shots (16) of his collegiate career.

ON THIS DATE IN UTEP HISTORY (DEC. 3)

UTEP is looking for its first victory on Dec. 3 since 2006. The Miners are 0-3 on the date since beating New Mexico that year.

D-UP

UTEP has held consecutive nonconference opponents to 53 points or less for the first time since  the beginning of the 2007-08 season. The Miners limited UCR to 52 points on Nov. 22 and FAMU to 53 just two days later. Overall the Orange and Blue are holding foes to 59.3 points per game (second C-USA/37th NCAA), aided by forcing 19.8 turnovers per tilt (third C-USA/11th NCAA).

SCORING STREAK

Souley Boum (59), Keonte Kennedy (30) and Christian Agnew (10) all have scoring streaks of at least 10 games. Furthermore, Boum is at 16 contests for double-digit scoring efforts while Jamal Bieniemy has done so all six games this year.

KEONTE ON THE GLASS

Keonte Kennedy is pulling down a team-best 6.8 rebounds per game, aided by pacing the team in rebounding in four of the six games this season. He’s done most of it at the defensive end, with 30 of his 41 boards serving as defensive rebounds.

MIX AND MATCH

Last year the Miners used two starting line-ups with a total of six different players starting on the season. It’s been quite the difference this year with five line-ups in six games, and 10 different individuals earning a starting nod.

CRASH THAT GLASS

UTEP has been flying to the offensive boards, pulling down 12.0 offensive rebounds per contest. That figure is good enough for fifth in the league and 88th nationally. Tydus Verhoeven (12 total) and Keonte Kennedy (11 total) lead the charge in the department for the Miners.

ALL ABOUT THOSE POINTS

UTEP  eclipsed 70 in each of the first four contests for the first time in six years, which has helped it put up 70.7 points per game.  Guards Souley Boum (20.7 ppg-first C-USA/34th NCAA), Jamal Bieniemy (16.8 ppg), and Keonte Kennedy (9.5 ppg) lead the way.

TURN IT OVER

UTEP is one of 11 teams in the nation to be forcing at least 19.8 turnovers per game, which is aided by coming up with 9.8 steals per game (fourth C-USA/31st NCAA). Keonte Kennedy (2.5 spg-fifth C-USA/27th NCAA), Jamal Bieniemy (2.0 spg eighth/C-USA/87th NCAA), and Souley Boum (1.7 spg-20th C-USA) have been causing fits for the opposition.

THAT’S A GOOD MARGIN

UTEP has caused 25+ turnovers twice on the year while committing 14 or less in half of the contests. The result is a +5.5 turnover margin (third C-USA/25th NCAA). UTEP is making 14.3 turnovers per game while forcing 19.8.

KNOCK THINGS DOWN

The Miners have shot better than 40 percent four times thus far in 2021-22. Even with consecutive tough outings in terms of shooting, they head into Friday’s tilt at 41.8 percent on the floor. Jamari Sibley tops the team at 61.1 percent (11-18) (min. 15 FGA).

WIN BIG

All four victories for UTEP have been by double figures while its two setbacks have been by a combined 18 points. The result has been a scoring margin of +11.3 (fourth C-USA/81st nation).

JB’S WORLD

Jamal Bieniemy has reached double figures in scoring in all six games this season, eclipsing his prior effort of four that he achieved in nonconference play last year. The guard has led UTEP in scoring four times already this year after doing so a trio of occasions in 2020-21.

TALKING 20+ POINT GAMES

Jamal Bieniemy surpassed 20 points three times in 24 contests a year ago, but he’s upped his game this year. He already has a pair of such efforts in 2021-22, including going off for 21 points in the 67-53 victory against FAMU on Nov. 24. Souley Boum has a pair this season and 28 in his career between San Fransisco and UTEP.

MILESTONE TRACKER

Souley Boum (started at San Francisco) is marching toward 1,000 points (924 points) in a UTEP uniform while Christian Agnew (started at North Alabama) is inching closer for his collegiate career (849). Jamal Bieniemy (started at Oklahoma) is past 300 assists (317) for his college career, including 111 helpers at UTEP. With 17 points this year, Alfred Hollins (started at Oregon State) has moved past career points (532) and hit 100 career games played (101). Tydus Verhoeven (started at Duquesne) is beyond 300 rebounds (313) for his collegiate career, with the majority (207) at UTEP.

THE BASIC FACTS ON THE 2021-22 SEASON

–  This is the 101st season of UTEP men’s basketball, with the Miners sporting an all time record of 1426-1096 (4-2 in 2021-22). There are 17 home games (3-1 thus far) and 13 road contests (1-1 thus far) prior to the C-USA Championships (March 8-12, 2022).

–  The Miners returned four starters (Jamal Bieniemy, Souley Boum, Keonte Kennedy and Tydus Verhoeven) and eight lettermen overall. Other returning lettermen are Christian Agnew, Cam Clardy, Gilles Dekoninck and Ze’Rik Onyema. Emmanuel White, who redshirted, also came back.

–  UTEP has six newcomers in the fold in the form of Kezza Giffa, Alfred Hollins, Kevin Kalu, Bonke Maring, Jorell Saterfield and Jamari Sibley.

– The Miners brought back four of their five leading scorers from 2020-21 in the form of Souley Boum (18.8 ppg), Keonte Kennedy (8.6 ppg), Jamal Bieniemy (8.6 ppg) and Christian Agnew (6.1 ppg).

COMING SOON TO EL PASO

JUCO standout Jon Dos Anjos (nationally-ranked Florida SouthWestern State) has signed a national letter of intent to enroll at UTEP and play for the men’s basketball team beginning in 2022-23. Dos Anjos will have two years of eligibility for the Miners. He was a first-team all-league performer for the Bucs in 2020-21, helping them go 18-5 and advance to the semifinals of the FCSAA State Tournament. He averaged 10.3 points and 5.7 rebounds while playing in all 23 games, including 20 starts.

GOLDING ERA UNDERWAY

Joe Golding has embarked on his first season with UTEP, and as the 20th head coach in program history. He is the eighth head coach for the Miners since legendary Hall of Fame Coach Don Haskins retired following the 1998-99 season. Golding is 162-146 in his 11th season as a collegiate head coach, including 4-2 at UTEP. He spent 10 years at ACU (158-144), helping it transition from a Division II to a Division I program. Golding led the Wildcats to the past two NCAA Tournaments played, including a stunning upset as a 14-seed of third-seeded Texas in the first round of the 2021 Big Dance.

LOOKING TO JOIN AN EXCLUSIVE GROUP

First-year head coach Joe Golding (4-2 thus far) is looking to be part of an exclusive group at UTEP. Of the previous 19 head coaches at UTEP, only three have put together a winning season in their first year on the sidelines in the Sun City. Don Haskins became the first when he directed the Miners to a mark of 18-6 in 1961-62. Doc Sadler (27-8, 2004-05) and Tim Floyd (25-10, 2010-11) also achieved the feat. Overall the prior 19 head coaches have combined to forge an average record of 9-13 in their first year with UTEP.

EXPERIENCED STAFF

The Miners have an experienced staff on the sidelines for the 2021-22 season, each of whom are in their first year in the Sun City. Between head coach Joe Golding (22 years), associate head coach Jeremy Cox (30 years) and assistant coaches Butch Pierre (37 years) and Earl Boykins (eight years), the Miner coaching staff has a combined 97 years of experience at coaches at 26 different stops along the ways at varying levels of competition. Boykins is the least experienced in terms of coaching, but he’s the most accomplished on the court after playing 12 seasons in the NBA.

PRESEASON HONORS

Souley Boum was tabbed a Preseason All-Conference honoree, it was announced before the season by the Conference USA office. A 2021 All C-USA third team member, Boum ranked third in C-USA in scoring (18.8 ppg) and fifth in the league in total points (450). He also paced the conference and was 15th in the country with 130 made free throws. Boum knocked down his free throws at a rate of 81.2 percent, which was good enough for eighth in C-USA. He also led UTEP in steals (34) and dished out 60 assists.

PRESEASON PREMONITIONS

UTEP was predicted to finish 10th in Conference USA, according to the preseason poll that was announced prior to the season by the league office. UAB (190 points) was slated first, followed by LA Tech (second-184 points), WKU (third-162 points), Marshall (fourth-147 points), Old Dominion (fifth-130 points), North Texas (sixth-124 points), Charlotte (seventh-110 points), Rice (eighth-104 points), Florida Atlantic (ninth-84 points), UTEP (10th-82 points), UTSA (11th-48 points), Southern Miss (12th-42 points), FIU (13th-36 points) and Middle Tennessee (14th-28 points).

LOOKING TO REGAIN WINNING WAYS IN C-USA

UTEP entered the 2021-22 season in search of its first winning record in Conference USA play since 2017 when the Miners went 12-6 in the league to finish tied for third. That year capped a run of five straight seasons with winning marks in conference action, the longest since 11 straight such efforts under Don Haskins from 1980-90.

UP NEXT

UTEP continues a difficult stretch by playing at No. 8 (AP poll)/No. 7 (coaches’ poll) Kansas at 6 p.m. MT on Dec. 7. Jon Teicher (41st year) will be on the call, which can be followed on “The Home Of UTEP Basketball” 600 ESPN El Paso, the UTEP Miners App. It will also be streamed on ESPN+.