NMSU Men's Basketball Defeats UTEP 79-70, Sweeps Season Series

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State men’s basketball team extended its win-streak to 11 and claimed the Battle of I-10 over visiting UTEP, 79-70, for its first sweep of the Miners in back-to-back seasons since the 1998-00 seasons.

NM State (13-2) moved its home win-streak to 19 with the victory, tying the win-streak set from 2005-07 under Reggie Theus’ watch. The win Friday was just the fifth time the Aggies have swept UTEP in back-to-back seasons in the last 50 years.

“When you play UTEP, you have to prepare for a lot of different defenses,” Aggie coach Paul Weir said. “Not necessarily knowing which one you are going to see. It just took a little bit of time to get into a rhythm against the one we did.”

Sluggish shooting from the Aggies coupled with turnovers saw the visiting Miners (2-10) open with a 10-0 run. However, a 20-0 run by NM State midway through the first half saw it take a 22-16 lead before heading into the locker room with a 38-30 advantage.

Despite the Miners making 13 field goals to the Aggies’ 12, a 7-4 edge in 3-point field goals made allowed NM State to take the lead at the start of the second half.

Every time UTEP made a run in the second half, the Aggies responded with a run of their own or a 3-pointer to take the wind out of the Miners’ sails.

Matt Wilms gave the Miners an early push with three-straight buckets to open the second frame, but an 11-0 run started and ended by Ian Baker extended the Aggie lead to 49-36 with 15:10 left to play.

An 8-0 run by the Miners then ensued, but was halted by Jemerrio Jones. He then followed with an assist to Chuha to make it 53-44 at the under 12 media timeout.

UTEP cut the NM State lead to seven twice with less than four minutes to play, but it just didn’t have enough firepower to take the lead as the Aggies hung on for the win.

Baker wrapped up with a game-high 24 points behind 6-of-10 shooting from downtown. Jones finished with 17 points and 11 boards on the night for his fifth double-double of the season, tying Eli Chuha for the team lead. Huggins chipped in with 15 points while Chuha added 13 points and seven boards.

New Mexico State will head into the New Year with Western Athletic Conference play on the road. First up for NM State will be UMKC at 5:30 p.m. (MT) on Thursday, Jan. 5, on the American Sports Network. Two days later, the Aggies square off against Chicago State (Jan. 7) in a 1 p.m. tip.

POSTGAME NOTES: Weir became the first coach since Ken Hayes (1975-76) to sweep the Miners in his first season at the helm…this year’s squad became just the fourth team in school history to go undefeated in the month of December (7-0)…NM State is now 10-0 at home…Friday was just the fourth time this season NM State has made 10 or more shots from downtown…Baker’s six 3-pointers tied his career-high from 2015, coincidentally also set against UTEP.