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UTEP Basketball: Ian Baker, NMSU buries UTEP 73-53

Omega Harris was electric in his return, but Ian Baker had the last word to help NMSU beat UTEP 73-53.

The UTEP Miners played spirited, and gritty in stretches, but it wasn't enough to slow down Ian Baker who dropped a career high 26 points to sweep the Battle of I-10 in a 73-53 drubbing.

UTEP scored on just 38.5 percent of their 67 total possessions, and shot 34.5 percent from the field to mark UTEP's fourth straight loss once the calender flipped to December.

Pascal Siakam added 14 points, and 10 rebounds, while Jalyn Pennie chipped in 14 points, and eight rebounds for NMSU who shot 49 percent from the field, and outscored UTEP 18-12 in the paint in the second half.

UTEP would come up scoreless on their first eight possessions of the game with shots just not going down, and Jalyn Pennie and Jonathon Wilkins made them pay early.

Both would combine for NMSU's first 10 points of the game, as the Aggies would start 4-of-6 from the field and take a quick 10-0 lead into the under 16 media timeout of the first half.

NMSU would grab two more buckets to stretch the lead to 14-0 until Earvin Morris ended the horrid start with a three pointer to finally get UTEP on the board.

Omega Harris saw his first action of the season in the first half, and scored seven of UTEP's first ten points adding a triple in transition that sliced the NMSU lead to 17-10 at the 10:46 mark of the first half.

NMSU would go on a three minute scoring drought that included three turnovers as UTEP crept within six at 24-18 with 4:46 left until halftime.

Then Omega Harris took over, again.

After trailing 24-14 at the 8:16 mark, UTEP would outscore NMSU 17-7 the rest of the half led by Harris who had 16 points in the first half to bring UTEP within a point at halftime..

UTEP held Pascal Siakam to just two points, and three rebounds in the first half, and only trailed 32-31 at halftime.

But they didn't have an answer for Ian Baker in the second half where he scored 15 of his points.

Dominic Artis brought UTEP back within two at 37-35 with a floater at the 17:23 mark, but Baker hit back-to-back three pointers and was 5-of-6 from three at that point to give NMSU a 44-37 with 15:24 left in the second half.

Baker gave NMSU a 57-47 lead with a layup, and would send folks to the exits by drilling a hand in his face three pointer pushing the NMSU lead to 63-47 with 6:57 to play.

NMSU's senior leader shot 6-of-7 from three point land, and added four rebounds,and five assists for the Aggies who climb back over .500 at 6-5.

Harris finished with 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but no other UTEP player scored more than six points, as UTEP  finished the game 3-of-15 from the field.

UTEP was out rebounding NMSU at the half 17-14, but were crushed 24-10 in the second half to lose the rebounding battle 38-27, while NMSU cashed in on 11 points off UTEP turnovers and led for 39:15.

There is no questioning UTEP's effort on both ends of the floor, but UTEP's two leading scorers Earvin Morris, and Lee Moore would shoot a combined 3-of-16 from the floor which attributed to UTEP averaging .791 points per possession in the game.

A quick turnaround greets UTEP Monday night as the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational gets under way with Norfolk State on