EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – In a defensive affair, UTEP outlasted Alcorn State 73-61 in double overtime on Tuesday night to open up the Jim Forbes Classic presented by Speaking Rock.
The Miners (3-1) limited the Braves to 30% clip from the field and forced 17 turnovers in the victory. UTEP was led by Tae Hardy (20 points) and Calvin Solomon (13 points, nine rebounds) and despite shooting just 1-18 from three-point range and 22-43 from the free throw line, the Miners pulled out the victory.
“It was two teams competing,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. “Neither team could shoot the ball. Free throws weren’t very good for either team, but both teams were competing. It was two really good defensive teams. It didn’t look pretty at times, but I’m just so proud of our guys.”
UTEP led by eight points, 30-22, at halftime, but a 15-7 run by the Braves to open the second half drew the game level and made it a grind for the rest of the way.
Both teams had multiple chances to win down the stretch of both regulation and the first overtime, either at the free throw line or in open play, but neither could make the plays to do so.
The game went to the first overtime tied at 53-apiece and with the game knotted at 59 late in the OT, Alcorn State’s Dominic Brewton sized up UTEP’s Solomon in the frontcourt. With the clock winding down, Solomon kept Brewton from getting a quality look, forcing a second overtime.
In the final five minutes, UTEP ran away with things, outscoring Alcorn State 14-2 in the second OT. Golding was pleased with the grit his team showed in that final frame.
“We just found a way. Guys stepped up and made big plays when they had to. We always talk about toughness wins in our program, and tonight was a grit it out, toughness win,” Golding said.
UTEP forward Otis Frazier went down with a left knee injury late in the first half of Tuesday’s game. Golding didn’t have an update on his status, but Frazier could be seen with a sizable knee brace on his left leg in the second half.
The Miners were also missing New Mexico State transfer point guard Mario McKinney, who did not play and was not on the bench on Tuesday. Golding declined comment when asked about McKinney’s status and why he was not there.
McKinney’s absence for unknown reasons came as sources told KTSM that multiple UTEP student-athletes were involved in a fight at the Oct. 15 football game in Las Cruces between New Mexico and New Mexico State. New Mexico State Police say the fight was the precursor to a deadly shooting over the weekend in Albuquerque involving four UNM students and NMSU basketball player Mike Peake.
Sources alerted KTSM that UTEP student-athletes were involved in the fight at the football game. KTSM has been unable to confirm the identities of everyone in a video of the incident.
KTSM reached out to UTEP for comment regarding its athlete’s potential involvement. The university provided KTSM with this statement: “University officials are currently reviewing the alleged involvement of UTEP students in the Oct. 15 incident at Aggie Memorial Stadium. In accordance with university policy, we are unable to discuss matters concerning specific students.”
UTEP will face Cal State-Bakersfield in its second game of the Jim Forbes Classic at 7 p.m. Wednesday night at the Don Haskins Center.