New Mexico State, UTEP set for Battle of I-10

College Sports

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – It is officially rivalry week in the Borderland. New Mexico State and UTEP are set to meet on the hardwood for the 218th time, making the Battle of I-10 one of the most storied rivalries in college basketball.

The Aggies currently own a nine-game win streak over the Miners. Will this finally be the year the series shifts back in favor of UTEP, or will NMSU continue their dominance?

Here is how both programs enter the matchup:

New Mexico State (1-0)

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State men’s basketball team heads down the road for the first of two rivalry meetings in the Battle of I-10 against UTEP on Tuesday, November 12, at 7 p.m. MT inside of the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas.

LOOKING AT UTEP

Heading into the rivalry clash, UTEP stands at 1-0 to open the season. The Miners downed New Mexico Highlands, 93-70, in their first game of the season.

Efe Odigie led the Miners with 20 points and added six rebounds in 22 minutes of action, while Daryl Edwards (17 points), Bryson Williams (17 points), Souley Boum (15 points) and Eric Vila (11 points) each hit double figures during their UTEP debuts.

In the opener, Vila recorded a double-double to start his UTEP career, pulling down 11 rebounds. The forward also came up four assists short of a triple-double – something done only once in UTEP program history.

The Miners doled out 15 assists, while making 78.1 percent (25-32) of free throws. The 25 made free throws matched the team’s high last season on Dec. 21 against Norfolk State and against UTPB in the season opener. The 93 points for the Miners also surpassed last season’s high of 90 in head coach Rodney Terry’s UTEP debut. At night’s end, UTEP connected on 56.4 percent (31-55) of shots from the field, which topped the teams’ 2018-19 high of 52.9 percent.

MEETINGS WITH THE MINERS

Tuesday’s matchup marks the 218th meeting between the Aggies and Miners. Overall, NM State leads the all-time series 114-103, but trails UTEP in road games 54-59. Last season’s 62-58 win over the Miners marked the ninth consecutive rivalry win for the Crimson & White.

The win also made Aggie head coach Chris Jans just one of two head coaches to sweep UTEP in their first two seasons at the helm – joining Lou Henson (1966-68). The last time NM State won nine-straight games against UTEP started on Feb. 1, 1967 and went through Dec. 12, 1970 for 10-straight.

LAST TIME OUT

The New Mexico State men’s basketball team opened up its 2019-20 campaign inside the Pan American Center versus Western New Mexico on Nov. 5. After scoring the first 16 points of the game, the Aggies never looked back en route to a decisive 92-46 win over the Mustangs at home.

NM State entered the contest against Western New Mexico missing three key starters, but that did not seem to hold back the Aggies one bit on opening night. After 2019 WAC Tournament MVP Trevelin Queen put up the first points of the new season, the Aggies then jumped out to a quick 16-0 lead in the first 5:30 of action.

Play in the first half continued to be paced by the Aggies who closed out the final seven minutes outscoring the opposition, 23-10, to head into the locker room ahead of the Mustangs 52-16. Play at the half was led by Jabari Rice who had already surpassed his career-high putting up 14 points, followed by Queen who added 10 of his own.

At the start of the second half, WNMU looked to have some new life trying to get back into the game scoring two of the first three baskets. However, NM State quickly put an end to that rattling off a 13-2 run to put the home teams lead at 67-23 when a media timeout was called with 12:00 remaining.

After the break the sides looked to trade baskets before the Mustangs went on a 7-0 run, which was their largest of the contest. To close out the game just as coach Jans’ Aggies were able to do throughout the historic 2018-19 season, the team used its depth with 11 players seeing action that helped the team secure the opening night win over Western New Mexico, 92-46.

When the night came to a close five NM State players posted double-digit scoring, led by Rice who put up a personal best 21 points, followed by Queen with 14, William McNair added 11 in his first career game in the Crimson & White, while Shawn Williams also put up 10 points in his first game as an Aggie and Ivan Aurrecoechea added 10 as well. Another first-time scorer for NM State was Las Cruces native Tennessee Owens who scored seven points with the first basket for the hometown player coming from beyond the arc to get him on the board.

NM State was 30-of-55 (54.5%) from the field and outrebounded WNMU 40-18. At the line, the Aggies were 23-for-28 (82.1%) and forced 14 turnover, including five steals.

NEXT UP

Following the rivalry battle, the New Mexico State men’s basketball team returns home to host Southern on Thursday, November 14, at 7 p.m. MT at the Pan American Center.

UTEP (1-0)

EL PASO, Texas – UTEP will host NM State in the 218th meeting in the Don Haskins Center Tuesday, Nov. 12. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

“We’re looking for the support of the community to get behind us at the Haskins Center Tuesday night,” second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We have a great fan base, they were really good to us a year ago and we want to make [the Don Haskins Center] one of the hardest places to play in the country. We have to do our part in terms of controlling our effort and preparation every night but there’s a huge difference when you have a lot of support behind it. Come out, we need you, El Paso!”

The Miners (1-0) and Aggies (1-0) are both coming off victories last week. UTEP downed New Mexico Highlands, 93-70, while NM State took care of Western New Mexico, 92-46.

Efe Odigie led the Miners with 20 points and added six rebounds in 22 minutes of action, while Daryl Edwards (17 points), Bryson Williams (17 points), Souley Boum (15 points) and Eric Vila (11 points) each hit double figures during their UTEP debuts.

Vila recorded a double-double to start his UTEP career, pulling down 11 rebounds. Vila also came up four assists short of a triple-double – something done only once in program history. Williams tallied seven rebounds and shot 5-of-7 from the field, while making his lone three-point attempt. He made one during his previous two seasons at Fresno State. Edwards connected on 3-of-4 from downtown as the Miners went 6-for-14 from beyond the arc.

The Miners recorded 15 assists, while making 78.1 percent (25-32) of their free throws. The 25 made free throws matched last season’s high against on Dec. 21 against Norfolk State and against UTPB in the season opener. The 93 points also surpassed last season’s high of 90 in Terry’s UTEP coaching debut.

Overall, UTEP connected on 56.4 percent (31-55) from field, which also surpassed last season’s high of 52.9 percent. The Miners hit the boards hard, outrebounding NMHU, 42-28.

Terry went nine-deep, as the bench scored 36 points on the night. Freshman Deon Stroud scored four points and Anthony Tarke added a pair of made free throws and three rebounds. Tydus Verhoeven also played nine minutes off the bench.

The Aggies lead the all-time series 114-103, while the Miners have lost the last nine contests. UTEP’s last win came on Nov. 22, 2014, a 77-76 triumph in the Don Haskins Center. The Aggies defeated UTEP, 96-69, in Las Cruces in the first contest last season, while slipping by the Miners, 62-58, in the Haskins Center Nov. 28, 2018. Odigie averaged 12.5 points per game and 4.5 rebounds in the two contests.

NM State opened its 2019-20 season with a dominating victory against Western New Mexico Nov. 5. The Aggies jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the first 5:30 of action and took a 52-16 lead into the locker room at the half. Redshirt sophomore guard Jabari Rice led NM State with 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting off the bench. In fact, the Aggies bench scored 48 points as redshirt freshman William McNair chipped in with 11 points. Senior Trevelin Queen, who was named the 2019 Western Athletic Conference Tournament MVP, hit 5-of-8 shots, scoring 14 points, while junior Shawn Williams and senior Ivan Aurrecoechea each tallied 10 points. Last season, third-year NM State Head Coach Chris Jans directed the Aggies to a program record 30 wins, while going 15-1 in the WAC. Jans was named the WAC Coach of the Year, followed by the 2019 Don Haskins Coach of the Year. NM State returns four starters from a year ago in senior guard Terrell Brown (11.3 ppg), redshirt senior guard AJ Harris (9.4 ppg, 3.3 apg), senior guard Clayton Henry (5.4 ppg) and redshirt junior forward CJ Bobbitt (4.6 ppg). Former Miners Evan Gilyard recently transferred to NM State, but will sit out the season per NCAA transfer rules.

“New Mexico State has had a great run over the last decade and they’re a well-coached team,” Terry said. “They’re a team that competes at a very high level. Anytime you play a Chris Jans’s team, you’re going to play a hard-nosed defensive team. They’re also a very physical rebounding team that hits the glass hard, and they’re great in transition.”

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