NMSU Men's Basketball Defeats Rival UTEP 79-68

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

EL PASO, TX - Backed by Ian Baker’s 20 points, Jemerrio Jones’ third-straight double-double and Eli Chuha’s 11 points, the NM State men’s basketball team pushed its winning-streak to seven with the 79-68 win Tuesday night in the Don Haskins Center.

The win was also NM State’s fourth-straight win over Battle of I-10 rival UTEP (2-6). Head coach Paul Weir also became the first coach since Ken Hayes (1975-76) to beat the Miners in his first try at the helm Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s victory over UTEP was the first time NM State has started a season 9-2 since the 1994-95 squad did it. On top of NM State hitting team milestones, Baker scored his 1,000th career point in the Crimson and White as well.

The Aggies started where they left off last game and went on a 9-2 run at the 15:57 media timeout. However, after an exchange of buckets, UTEP answered with a 7-2 run to cut the Aggie lead to 12-10 before Jermaine Haley knocked down a baseline 3-pointer to give the Aggies an 18-14 cushion with 11:16 left in the first half.

An 11-0 run then ensued for NM State that was capped off by a turnaround jumper from Baker to give the Aggies a 26-14 lead. Dominic Artis ended a 4:57 drought for the Miners when he drained an 8-footer in the paint. But, a 13-6 run ended the half for New Mexico State thanks to another baseline triple from Haley as time expired on the clock to give New Mexico State a 41-25 edge heading into the locker room.

The Aggie defense played well in the first half, holding UTEP to just 34.5-percent shooting (10-of-29) from the floor to NM State’s 62.5-percent (15-of-24). A 23-11 edge in rebounds was also critical in helping the Aggies jump out to a 16-point lead at halftime despite turning the ball over 11 times in the first half alone.

With 15:10 left in the game, Baker hit an acrobatic reverse lay-up and then completed the 3-point play to become the 34th player in Aggie history to score 1,000 points.

The Aggies then took its largest lead of the game at the 10:31 mark when Matt Taylor drained a pair of free throws to make it 61-39. UTEP reeled off an 11-0 run lasting 3:05 to cut the Aggie lead down to 73-61 with 2:33 left before Baker halted that run when he knocked down a 15-footer.

UTEP got within nine points twice in the final minute of play, but it was too little too late as the Aggies held on for the 79-68 rivalry win.

Jones, who was nearly perfect from the field (6-of-7), wrapped up the night with 18 points and 13 rebounds while Chuha added 11 points and eight boards.

The Aggies will now get a few days rest to prepare for Saturday’s (Dec. 17) match-up against Arizona State out of the Pac-12 Conference for a 6 p.m. game televised on the Pac-12 Networks Arizona feed.

POSTGAME NOTES: Jones finished the night with his third-straight double-double, the last Aggie to post three-straight double-double was AP All-American Pascal Siakam…NM State is now 8-0 when out-rebounding its opponents this season and 1-2 when it gets out-rebounded…the 54.9-percent shooting from the floor tonight was also the third-consecutive game NM State has shot above 50-percent from the floor.