The NMSU men’s basketball team defeated the UTEP Miners 59-56 last night at the Pan American Center.
An announced crowd of just over 7,000 roared as fans cheered for both NMSU and UTEP. It was the “Battle of I-10” and a game with high stakes. The Aggies needed a confidence booster after a rocky start this season including a loss to the Miners Nov. 12.
Coach Jans indicated the early-season loss to UTEP was difficult. “We knew we had to win this game in order for us to regain our confidence,” Jans said.
At the end of the first half the score was 27-23 with the Aggies up by five. The Aggies played especially strong on defense.
The Aggies had 36 rebounds on the night including 11 offensive rebounds. NMSU also had seven steals and 10 assists that helped lead the way to victory.
NMSU is now 5-4 on the season while UTEP is 5-1. Offensively, the two teams played evenly. The Aggies shot 38.9% from the field with five three-pointers. The Miners shot 39.1% from the field and scored six three-pointers.
The Miners kept it close in the second half but never took the lead. The Aggie defense held the Miners scoreless for over three minutes at one point. C.J. Bobbitt scored a team-high 14 points on the night for the Aggies. Two other Aggies also put up double digits. Bryson Williams had a game-high 27 points for the Miners.
With under four minutes remaining in the game, the Aggies were up 55-52 and it came down to the wire. Keeping the fans on their feet, the Aggies and Miners duked it out with free throws and lots of missed shots, but the Miners couldn’t close the gap.
The Aggies will not play at the Pan American Center again until Dec. 18 when they take on University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. The Aggies’ next game will be Dec. 7 at Washington State followed by a trip to Denver and then to Albuquerque to take on UNM Dec. 14.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified NMSU’s Dec. 18 opponent as Arkansas State.