UTEP will travel to Albuquerque and square off against long-time rival New Mexico on Nov. 24 at The Pit. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. and the contest can be seen on the Mountain West Network.
“Paul [Weir] has done a great job revitalizing the program out there,” first-year UTEP Basketball Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “His older returning players and core guys that he inherited really made a difference in his program a year ago. I thought he sprinkled in a good group of guys that were bling guys for him last year. He’s in his second year and they’re playing very similar to the way they did last year. They’ve added a couple of transfers that are really good players — Vance Jackson coming in from UConn, and [Anthony] Mathis is back – a very good three-point shooter.”
The Miners will play at UNM for the first time since 2016, while the two teams will meet for the 144th time during the long-standing rivalry. UTEP defeated New Mexico behind Kobe Magee’s career-high 16 points last season in El Paso, 88-76, while the Lobos edged the Miners, 78-77, on Dec. 7, 2016 in Albuquerque. The Lobos lead the all-time series 77-66. UTEP last won at The Pit on Jan. 6, 2008 – a 73-60 victory.
“Anytime you go up the road to play at The Pit, we know it’s going to be a difficult place to play,” Terry said. “I have a lot of respect for their program and a lot of respect for Paul and how he runs the program.”
Terry’s Fresno State squad split its two contests against New Mexico last season, winning 89-80 in Fresno, Calif., and falling in overtime, 95-86, at The Pit to close out the regular season.
The Miners (2-2) are coming off a 66-59 victory over Eastern New Mexico on Nov. 19 as Evan Gilyard scored a season-high 29 points (matched career high) and pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds, while drawing five charges. Efe Odigie also had a career night, recording his second consecutive double-double after ripping down a career-high 17 rebounds and scoring 14 points. Odigie also blocked a shot and recorded his first career assists (three) against the Greyhounds. Paul Thomas registered a season-high 10 rebounds and chipped in with nine points, while Jordan Lathon tallied four rebounds, three assists and two points on a dunk. Kobe Magee came off the bench and led the Miners with four assists, while connecting on a three-point bucket, and Kaosi Ezeagu scored six points with three rebounds in his first career assist. Nigel Hawkins made his first start in front of the Miner faithful against ENMU, scoring three points with an assist and two rebounds. Hawkins missed the first two games of the season due to injury and has averaged 31.0 minutes in his first two starts.
Gilyard is leading the Miners in points per game (20.5) and assists (11), while Odigie leads Conference USA in rebounds per contest (10.5). Odigie is the only Miner to score in double digits in all four games (15.8 ppg). Thomas is third on the team at 10.8 points per game and averages 6.0 rebounds per contest. Magee, after logging all 40 minutes in each of the first two games, has come off the bench during the last two contests. He’s tallied 10 assists and is averaging over five points per game.
The Miners are averaging 67.8 points per game, while shooting over 43 percent from the field, including 37 percent (27-74) from beyond the arc.
The Lobos (2-1), after winning their first two ball games, recently fell to NM State in a high-scoring affair, 98-94. UNM’s 6-9 guard/forward Jackson led the team with 27 points and six rebounds, while senior guard Mathis came off the bench to score 22 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting. Forward Corey Manigault registered 20 points in the loss. New Mexico opened the campaign with an 87-84 win at Cal State Northridge, and chalked up win no. 2 with a 90-83 triumph over Iona at The Pit.
The Lobos are averaging over 90 points per game and giving up over 88 points per contest. As a team, they are shooting about 45 percent from downtown (34-76). Manigault leads the team at 18.7 points per game, while Jackson is putting up 17.3 points per contest. Jackson also paces the squad in rebounds per game (8.7), while Mathis (16.0 ppg) has dished out a team-leading seven assists.