EL PASO, Texas – Junior guard K.C. Ross-Miller tallied a career-high 26 points as the New Mexico State men’s basketball team defeated UTEP, 77-68, in the Don Haskins Center, Saturday, Nov. 23, sweeping the Miners for the first time since 2006. The Aggies improve to 5-1 while the Miners fall to 3-2.
Ross-Miller was 6-of-10 from the field and 3-of-4 from behind the 3-point arc while going 11-of-14 from the charity stripe to pace the Aggies to the victory. NM State, however, struggled as a team from the free-throw line, hitting only 67 percent of its attempts (29-for-43).
“It’s a rivalry game and it was a tough environment,” said head coach Marvin Menzies. “Imagine if we would have made six to eight more free throws, it puts us in a better situation. But we were able to come into a hostile environment and fought through some pressure. I am very happy that we were able to get two wins over our rival.”
NM State outshot the Miners, hitting 47 percent from the field while holding UTEP to 43 percent field-goal shooting. The Aggies were aggressive defensively and forced 14 turnovers, scoring 16 points off those turnovers. Junior guard Daniel Mullings was the defensive leader marking three steals while chipping in with 17 points on the offensive side of the court.
The Aggies were clutch at the line during the last two minutes of the game going 11-of-12 with Ross-Miller leading the way by going 7-of-8 during that time.
The Aggies jumped out to an early 9-2 lead heading into the first media timeout, starting out 4-of-5 from the field. UTEP used a hostile home crowd to get help staying in the game and the Aggies eventually lost the lead at 28-26 with 1:45 left in the first half.
NM State bounced right back, however, as forward Remi Barry worked for a layup that was followed with Mullings driving towards the basket and pulling up for a nice jumper to give the Aggies a 30-28 lead with 1:40 left in the half. Ross-Miller hit his third 3-pointer of the half to give the Aggies a five point lead heading into the locker room. The Aggies shot the ball well from behind the 3-point line, hitting 5-of-8, and NM State was 52 percent as a team from the field at the midway mark.
NM State would never relinquish the lead in the second half and took a 10-point lead at 42-32 when junior guard DK Eldridge buried two-straight free throws at the 16:20 mark. The Aggies went up by as many as 12 at 56-44 when senior Renaldo Dixon slammed the ball down with authority. According to the officials, Dixon held on to the rim a second too long and was called for a technical foul. UTEP pulled to within six points with 26 seconds left on the clock, but the Aggies maintained their poise to pull off the road win in the Don Haskins Center.
The Aggies head back home to take on Bethune-Cookman at 7p.m. (MT) Monday, Nov. 25, in the Pan American Center. The game will be produced for television by the AggieVision production team. Check local listings for show times. The game will also air over the radio waves with the ‘Voice of the Aggies,’ Jack Nixon, giving the play-by-play on KGRT 103.9 FM.