Vince Hunter fouled out in just 16 minutes of action, and Matt Willims followed, exiting on fouls after just 20 minutes, as the Miners watched a 9 point second half lead disappear in a 71-64 loss in Las Cruces.
The Miners once again suffered from poor play in the early going, managing just two points in the first four plus minutes of the game, and falling behind 16-8 midway through the first half.
A 14-4 UTEP run would give the Miners the lead at 22-20 with 6:37 to play in the first 20, and while they'd hold the lead for the remainder of the opening half, the two teams would head into the intermission knotted at 35.
Cedrick Lang would give UTEP a two point out of the locker rooms, and the Miners would look to open that lead over the next 10 minutes of the game. A C.J. Cooper made jumper with 13:17 to go would stretch the lead out to nine, but things would head South from there.
The Aggies would use a 17-4 run over the next six minutes of the game, and following the exits of both Hunter and Willms, they'd essentially coast to the finish line. UTEP would only be able to get as close as three in the closing minutes, and would eventually fall by a final of 71-64.
Cedrick Lang and C.J. Cooper each finished with 12 points apeice, while Earvin Morris finished with 10. No other UTEP player would score in double figures.
Remi Barry paced the Aggies with 15 points and 6 rebounds, and D.K.Eldridge went for 14 and 4. Pascal Siakam chipped in with 12 points and 6 boards.
UTEP outrebounded the Aggies 38-32, and shot 42.1% to just 39.6% for NMSU, but the Aggies forced the Miners into 13 turnovers while committing 9 of their own, and converted 25-30 free throws for a blistering hot 83.3%.
Blame it on the road. Blame it on the refs. Blame it on whatever you can think of. The truth is, this team is greatly underperforming, and even that is a heavy understatement.
This NMSU team entered without 7'3 center Tanveer Bhullar, as well as starting power forward Tshilidzi Nephawe and star guard Daniel Mullings, and still walked away with a 7 point win. That, is absolutely unacceptable.
We've seen the slow starts in three of the previous four games and tonight was no exception. Its hard to say what exactly is wrong with this team, but its clear that what the coaching staff is doing is just not working. That has translated to the team's first three game losing streak in nearly three years.
Blame has to be put on every single person on the team, and they've simply got to get back to work and figure out how to correct it. Up next, the Miners will face an undefeated Incarnate Word team who has already beat Princeton on the road. If the Miners aren't careful, this three game losing streak may turn to four. Tipoff for that game, in the Don Haskins Center, is slated for 7:00 p.m. MT.
Make sure to stay tuned to MinerRush for coverage of all things UTEP sports. Also, make sure to Follow @sbnminerrush on Twitter and as always don't forget to like our Facebook Page. Picks Up, and Go Miners!