About 10 days ago, a big-time rivalry game in the state of New Mexico was cancelled. And for obvious reasons. The second installment of that same rivalry is also cancelled.
However, the Battle of I-10 rivalry was still alive and well. And in the second installment on Wednesday night at the Pan Am Center in Las Cruces, there wasn’t much of a rivalry.
Anthony Roy had a team-high 23 points off the bench and New Mexico State shot nearly 58 percent to blow out I-10 rival UTEP, 95-70, on Wednesday night.
Xavier Pinson had 18 points. Issa Muhammad had 15 points and eight rebounds. And Deshawndre Washington had 10 points, eight rebounds, and five assists.
Some may argue that New Mexico State did not lead wire-to-wire. Sure, that is factually accurate in the sense that UTEP had a 2-0 lead and then led 12-11 with 13:30 to play in the first half.
But, New Mexico State led for over 36 minutes on Wednesday night. And after UTEP tied the game at 16 with 11:26 left in the half, it was all Aggies from there.
Issa Muhammad and Deshawndre Washington scored the first six points of a 9-0 run. Anthony Roy capped the run with a jumper in the paint.
Roy’s monster dunk off an offensive rebound with 5:25 to play made it 30-23.
— WACHoopsDigest (@WACHoopsDigest) December 1, 2022
And every time UTEP got close late in the first half, it was Roy who responded. Tae Hardy’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to four with 4:29 to play. But Roy responded with a 3-pointer of his own.
After Mario McKinney knocked down 1-2 free throws, Roy got himself to the foul line and knocked a pair down. Roy’s 3-pointer with 1:42 left in the half pushed the lead to 13. And Xavier Pinson capped the half with a second-chance layup. The Aggies went into the locker room leading 44-31.
Out of the break, New Mexico State kept its foot on the gas pedal. Quayé Gordon got things started with a layup. Xavier Pinson followed with a 3-pointer. And then Anthony Roy scored five straight points. And all of a sudden it was a 21-point lead early in the second half.
What was most impressive in the second half was the composure of the Aggies. UTEP made its run. Former Aggie Mario McKinney Jr. went on a rampage midway through the second half to help the Miners cut the deficit to 11 with 8:09 to play.
But, Chi Chi Avery knocked down a corner 3-pointer to get New Mexico State back on pace. Four straight free throws on the following two possessions and the lead was back to 18 with 7:27 left.
— NM State MBB (@NMStateMBB) December 1, 2022
From that point, New Mexico State cruised down the stretch. Quayé Gordon’s jumper with 2:13 to play made it 89-69. And Deshawndre Washington put the nail in the coffin with a 3-pointer to add some salt to the wound.
Tae Hardy had a team-high 24 points for the Miners. Mario McKinney Jr. had 22 points and seven rebounds in his return to the Pan Am Center.
Steals, blocks, points in the paint, bench points, second-chance points, and rebounds were are in New Mexico State’s favor on Wednesday night.
New Mexico State improves to 3-2 overall. The Aggies go on the road for three straight in a wild road trip. New Mexico State plays at Santa Clara on Wednesday. Then, the Aggies go to Pittsburgh to take on Duquesne on Sunday. And then, the Aggies have to go back to the West Coast to take on Saint Mary’s on Dec. 14.