Three Aggies scored in double figures, led by JUCO transfer Jemerrio Jones who scored 18 points, and grabbed 12 rebounds as the NMSU Aggies rolled over UTEP 79-68 Wednesday night.
Senior guard Ian Baker scored 20 points as NMSU shot 54.9 percent from the field in the game, and dominated the paint with a 36-26 advantage in points in the paint which was 32-16 at one point, and owned the boards with a 38-28 edge.
The Miners played a spirited first half on both ends, but the lack of execution, and two scoring droughts gave the Aggies breathing room and a large halftime lead.
UTEP went on an almost three minute scoring drought after their first bucket of the game, meanwhile the Aggies jumped out a 9-2 lead at the 16:19 mark of the first half.
The Miners countered with a nice stretch to answer with a quick spurt.
A three point play by Kelvin Jones cut the lead down to 12-10 at the 13:11 mark of the first half, then Omega Harris made it 15-14 with a nice layup, but that’s as close as the Miners would get.
Jermaine Haley rained home a 3-pointer after Harris’ bucket, then Ian Baker hit a 3-pointer which started a 23-11 NMSU run until halftime in where the Aggies took a commanding 41-25 lead.
NMSU rolled off a 9-0 run, and 11-0 run in two different first half sequences, and the Miners also went 4:32 without a bucket for a stretch as well late in the first half.
The Miners missed a handful of layups, and close looks from the floor, shooting just 34.5 percent in the first half, meanwhile NMSU outscored UTEP 18-10 in the paint and shot 62.5 percent.
The Aggies were just two steps ahead of the Miners all night, as Ian Baker went up and under for a highlight worthy layup, plus the foul and free throw to put the Aggies ahead 52-32 just five minutes into the second half.
UTEP would go on a late 11-3 run after a three point play by Tim Cameron which cut the lead down to 71-61 with 3:50 remaining, but the damage had already been done.
Omega Harris finished the night with 18 points, Dominic Artis added 15 points and nine assists. UTEP ended the night 4-for-13 from long distance on the evening, and 12-of-20 from the free throw line.
UTEP turned the ball over 11 times in the final half, but did shoot an improved 55.2 from the field in the second half, and went 4-of-9 from deep after going 0-for-4 in the opening half.
NMSU was just simply much more physical, much more composed, and looked like a team that is going to run through the WAC.
The Miners drop their fifth straight on the season, and drop to 2-6 overall.