Defense key for UTEP in 145th meeting against New Mexico

UTEP

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – UTEP (3-0) and New Mexico (4-0) will collide for the 145th time in an old WAC rivalry that returns to the Don Haskins Center on Tuesday night.

The Miners are coming off a pair of wins this past week, including a 15-point win against Battle of I-10 rival New Mexico State last Tuesday night. Nearly 9,000 fans packed ‘The Don’ providing a challenging atmosphere for the Aggies.

“We can’t thank the fans enough for their support against the Aggies and we’ll need every one of them back for another big rivalry game versus the Lobos,” said head coach Rodney Terry. “This is a New Mexico team that was highly competitive in the Mountain West last season and added some high-profile transfers from Ohio State, Texas A&M, Kansas and Towson. They are picked to finish third in the Mountain West this season.  It’s going to be another great test for our squad.”

Both programs are off to perfect starts as the Miners defeated Eastern New Mexico, 71-57, Friday night to move to 3-0. It is their first 3-0 start to a season since 2015. The Lobos edged McNeese State, 90-80, Saturday night to improve to 4-0.

UTEP’s Deon Stroud scored a career-high 14 points against ENMU. Bryson Williams scored 12 points, while Souley Boum hit double-digit figures (11 points) and tied his collegiate career-high with four assists. The Miners used nine players off the bench that combined to score 29 points.

Like the Miners and coach Terry, UNM head coach Paul Weir has multiple transfers on his roster who are making serious contributions early in the season. During UNM’s 10-point victory over McNeese State, senior transfer Corey Manigault led the Lobos with 24 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the free-throw line. JaQuan Lyle, a transfer from Ohio State, tallied 18 points as he shot 3-for-5 from downtown. Carlton Bragg, a 6-10 transfer from Kansas, ripped down 18 boards and snagged five steals in the win.

Lyle leads the Lobos averaging 19.0 points per game, while Manigault (15.8 ppg), Makauch Maluach (12.3 ppg), Bragg (11.8 ppg) and Zane Martin (11.8) are all averaging double-digit figures. Bragg is averaging 11.0 rebounds per game and JJ Caldwell, a transfer from Texas A&M, leads the way with 23 assists.

“I’ve heard Paul Weir say this might be the most talented offensive team that he’s had at this point right now in his head coaching career,” said Terry. They have a number of guys with size and they can score the basketball. It will be a great challenge for us here at home.”

The Miners are shooting for its first sweep of the Aggies and Lobos at home since 1997. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

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