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NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

NM State men’s basketball wins first-ever Conference USA game against I-10 rival

Photo courtesy of NMSU Athletics.

In the 226th Battle of I-10, the New Mexico State Aggies faced off against the University of Texas El Paso Miners, for the first time as Conference USA opponents, and delivered a night to remember for fans following a 63-53 win in the Pan American Center.  

Both the Aggies and Miners got off to a hot start moving the ball, making plays on both sides of the floor and taking advantage of scoring off turnovers, while going back-and-forth on the offensive end to keep the lead margin under four points through first 10 minutes of action.  

After trading buckets, the Miners struggled to score allowing the Aggies to go on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to nine. Despite the early mistakes, the Miners prevented the Aggies from scoring, forcing the Aggies into tough shots and to draw fouls to get on the free throw line.  

The first half ended with the Aggies leading 28-22, while shooting the ball at 50%, but the Miners five three-point field goals overpowered the Aggies one three-pointer, maintaining a close game.  

After an intense and tight first half, both teams went into the second with more fire. Aggie junior guard Brandon Suggs shot two free throws after he was fouled by Zid Powell just 15 seconds into the half— a foul that would soon pile up to over 20 combined in the second half. 

Photo courtesy of NMSU Athletics.

The Aggies had their share of struggles on offense, misfiring shots, not finishing at the rim and committing several fouls to put the Miners in the bonus. The Miners managed to cut the lead down to five points just before the game got personal.  

Tempers rose when UTEP’s Calvin Solomon took exception to a loose ball foul. After the play was reviewed, he was given a technical foul for an unsportsmanlike conduct, leading to two free throws and an Aggie three-pointer afterward from guard Christian Cook.  

After the Aggies took a double-digit lead, another technical foul was called, this time on Aggie forward Kaosi Ezeagu following a layup made by Jordan Rawls, giving the momentum back to the Miners for a short period of time. 

The Miners cut the lead down to five points, but the Aggies negated every one of their comeback attempts. Cook led the effort and continued to find the basket, drawing fouls while finding his teammates at the rim, leading to four players scoring double figures. 

Through the last five minutes, both sides continued committing fouls while being in the double bonus, leading to a half that had 37 free throw attempts combined with the five taken in the first half.   

Despite the Miners’ competitiveness, they were unable to pull off a comeback as the Aggies notched their first Conference USA win.  

Despite the win, head coach Jason Hooten believes there is still room for improvement. 

“You had two teams that were fighting really hard and trying to find a way to win,” Hooten said. “They guarded us really well; we turned it over 17 times and shot 37% in the second half. To me, that’s one of the biggest areas we have to improve on.” 

The Aggies will now travel to Miami to take on conference opponent Florida International University on Thursday Jan. 11 at 5 p.m. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and Zia Country 99.5. 

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About the Contributor
Victor Fierro
Victor Fierro, Sports Writer
Victor Fierro is starting his first year with The Round Up as a staff writer. He is currently a senior majoring in Journalism and Media Studies with a minor in Sports Marketing. He developed a passion for writing when he was in high school. His main goal is to become a play-by-play announcer for an NBA team. Victor loves to write game stories for all sports including basketball and football. Victor hopes working for The Round Up will help him grow as a person and a journalist.

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