EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – UTEP received balanced scoring, outshooting New Mexico Highlands in their season opener 93-70 on Tuesday night at the Don Haskins Center.
Efe Odigie scored a game-high 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.
“I was pleased with our effort. I thought Efe came in and gave us a great lift when Bryson picked up two early fouls in the first half,” said head coach Rodney Terry. “Efe did a great job both offensively and defensively. We’ll have to have guys step and hold the fort down and I thought [Odigie] did that for us with Bryson in foul trouble.”
Vila also recorded his first career double-double in a UTEP uniform, leading with 11 rebounds and coming up four dimes short of a triple-double with six assists. Returning floor general Jordan Lathon produced a solid all-around game, scoring seven points, pulling down six boards and dishing out five assists. The most important of his stat line was the zero turnovers.
“I thought Jordan had one of his best games. He had zero turnovers and had five assists,” said Terry. “He did a great job quarterbacking our team and did a great job. He made great decisions.”
The Miners opened the game with a 7-0 lead, but New Mexico Highlands answered with an 8-0 run of its own to go up a point (8-7). However, that was all the Cowboys could rustle up as the Miners went on an 18-0 run to take a 25-8 lead and never looked back.
“We did a really nice job setting the tone in the first half, defensively,” said Terry. “We rotated over and took a lot of charges. We also did a nice job handling the pressure and scoring behind their pressure.”
New Mexico Highlands made a run in the second half to get within nine points (71-62) after a Raquan Mitchell three, but UTEP, after a media timeout, outscored the Cowboys 22-8 to complete the 23-point victory.
“[New Mexico Highlands] came in and played at a very high level,” said Terry. “We knew these guys weren’t going to be intimidated by us.”
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 on December 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.
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 squad went 6-of-14 from beyond the arc.
Overall, UTEP shot 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 the Cowboys 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 Miners will host rival New Mexico State in the Battle of I-10 on Tuesday, November 12. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the Don Haskins Center.