The UTEP Miner's men's basketball team is off to a good start in the 2010-2011 season. They dropped the home opener against Pacific, a game in which they were leading by double digits, but have won the last two setting the stage for tonight's Battle of I-10 in the Don Haskins Center. The Miners are 2-1, while the Aggies are 2-3. New Mexico State won its first two before dropping games at Arizona, and vs UMASS and USC.
The Aggies lost two very talented guards from last year's NCAA tournament team in Jamar Young, and Jonathan Gibson who combined for nearly 40 ppg. They will be tough to replace, but look for Troy Gillenwater and Hernst Laroche to help pick up some of that slack. NMSU also rosters five guys that stand 6-10 or taller, and two more that are 6-8. This definitely may be the first real test of the year for our Miner bigs.
UTEP is showing much promise early in this young season. Their tenacious d, no pun intended, has forced teams to jack up contested shots, and settle for the three time and time again. Their offense, although not necessarily clicking on all cylinders, looks very solid at times also. Of course, there's the likes of Randy Culpepper who always gets it done on the offensive side, but the kicker for this offense is Julyan Stone's new found game. Of course, Julyan has always been a great PG, but he has never been a real scoring threat. He's made sure that is not the case this year averaging 12 points, 5 assists, and 8 rebounds a game.
The Miners have forced teams into shooting an average of 26 three point shots a game, but need to be careful vs an Aggie team that is white hot from three point land. NMSU, as a team, shoots a ridiculous 37% from three point range. That is nearly 10% higher than any of the three teams the Miners have faced thus far.
Tonight, as always in the Battle of 1-10, should prove to be a great game. The two teams have very different dynamics and extremely talented players, but when it comes to such rivalries all stats and expectations go out the window. As of Monday afternoon less than 1500 tickets remained so get those while you still can. It's a big game for the Miners as we can't afford to drop another game at home this early in the season. It's going to be a tough test so be loud, be proud, and go Miners!