Jemerrio Jones is the man. This guy does all the dirty work and cleans up misses, plays great defense and is everywhere. He's a double double machine because of his hustle and tenacity. My favorite Aggie!
Yes the Aggies got the sweep. We are 3 of 4 against our Rio Grande rivals. Great for first year Coach Weir. It is somewhat tainted due to the fact that UTEP is having such a bad season. But it is bolstered by Coach Weir's (and many of our own) feeling that we coulda/shoulda won the UNM game in ABQ.
Now the margin of victory was not huge last night. But you do have to give a lot of credit to UTEP. They treated this like a true rivalry game and came out to play. They did not look like the bumbling/fumbling team that we beat in El Paso. We could see that they did not have the horses to keep up with us but they did give a good effort. Their guard play was actually pretty good (and somewhat lucky) which was good for the Aggies to face as we go into conference play. I thought our guard defense was decent. Artis and Harris were lightning quick. They used screens to try to shed the Aggie defenders, but I don't think they did it effectively, which is a sign of a team not fully playing with each other. It seems like they wanted to rely more on their athletic ability than teamwork (and not both like it should be). I remember 2 or 3 times when their guards made shots while falling down and a few other occasions where shots were made when they were not set and off balance. This was the "lucky" I was referring to before.
I think their big center played his best game of the year. This was probably good for the Aggies because we need to learn how to play effectively against good bigs. I think that Wilkins and Chuha did a decent job of preventing the pass inside. But once the ball got inside they did not do too well at defending the shot. Yes they did not have the height advantage but they do need to learn to deny when the ball comes inside. I did like that the guards would quasi- double team their bigs and this did throw off the shot on occasion.
Our 3 point production was great. Baker and Huggins were on target. The others were so-so, but that was okay because when defenders think they will NOT take the 3, they learn to lay off them. Recall last year when Taylor would be playing in our "work it only to the inside" offense and the defense would sag toward the inside because they knew Taylor was not allowed to take the 3? He was only 1 of 4 on the threes last night, but his first three was good which made UTEP have to guard him instead of sag toward other players.
We were lazy on boxing out last night, which led to too many easy rebounds for UTEP. In their early run to start the game I recall twice when their big man would out-hustle us on a rebound when the ball hit the floor. Last year Pascal would have been diving at these balls and increasing his rebound total. The one that was getting these balls was Jemerrio and he was able to get the double-double. I would see him go up for the rebound among the taller Miners and somehow he would come down with it. It was as if he has glue on his hands which allowed him to grab what the others couldn't. The interesting thing (and disappointing thing) was that Coach Weir wanted to concentrate on rebounds for this game after the poor showing against Eastern NM.
Another poor performance was in turnovers, which was another area that Coach Weir wanted to concentrate on. During the Eastern game, we had lots of turnovers because their defense forced us into them. Last night we had many unforced turnovers due to lack of concentration. I think I counted 9 turnovers in the first half. Fortunately we reduced this in the second half.
The Aggies did not go deep into their bench last night. I do not think that Coach Weir was purposely settling in on a short rotation; I think he was just playing the game how the opposition presented itself.
Re: the crowd (as brought up in another post). I was surprised that the announced was only 5600. It looked alot more than that. I agree that the lack of UTEP success this year did take alot away from the attendance. One thing that I had not seen brought up is the fact that the Sun Bowl was also yesterday. While the early start time was not a direct conflict with the Aggie-Miner game, I am sure that 2 games on the same day did detract from some attendance. I think that UTEPs thinking in the original schedule was that they thought their basketball team was going to have a good year and euphoria from the Sun Bowl would spill over to the rivalry basketball game later that night.
I really watched the Minors big man, Willms, the whole game. In the first half I couldn't figure out why he was even in the game because he detracted from their great guard play. Even though the Minors got out to a good start it was more the "Los Aggies" not playing well. The Minors did look pretty disorganized in the first half -- three players bumping into one another etc.
Their second half was a completely different story watching the Minors. They looked organized. Willms was being used effectively. It shows that if Floyd really wanted to coach them that they could win some games. But like I said during the game, he looks "checked out".
I also was surprised not to see Tanveer in the game against him? The new thin-Tanveer looked like he was moving very well in warmups (I love the new approach there). But then didn't see him in the game.
Watched it on TV due to being out of town for the holiday. The place did look pretty packed on screen. Would've guessed 6k to 7k. Also surprised the number was that low.
Regarding the game, I did not expect it to be as close as it was. Was expecting a 15 to 20 point blowout and was nervous to see UTEP make it a 2 posession game a couple times. Announcers repeatedly mentioned UTEP has improved. They certainly looked much better for a team with a +300 ranking. Sometimes the Aggies come out banging on all cylinders, like the UNM and ASU games. Other times it seems they have to warm up or something. UTEP out-rebounded NMSU during the 1st half due to the sluggish start. Aggies would just watch the ball roll out of bounds until a Miner, who wanted it more, successfully chased the ball. Shots were also just not going in during UTEP's opening streak until Jones brought the team back with his 6 or 8 pts. Huggins shot was cold until the end of the game, much like the Irvine game.
UTEP's #15 has game and was annoying to watch as an Aggie fan (though not as annoying as #0 from the Irvine game...or that guard from the last Wyoming game at the Pan-Am the refs had a hard on for). That #15 fast break bucket against 4 Aggie defenders was impressive. It felt good when Jones and Wilkins finally got that block on him that resulted in Baker's dunk. #41 was also impressive and frustrating to watch. Aggies generally have had trouble with a larger center presence this year. Not to count chickens but I hope Weir figures something out before post season play (After watching teams like Baylor or Arizona).
The sluggish start also didn't help but I kind of agree there was some degree of luck at play too. That bucket #2 made as he was falling? Seriously?
Anyway, unlike UNM and having family that has gone to UTEP, I kinda sympathize with UTEP when they're down so hope they do better in their conference. Those "KEEP FLOYD" signs gave me a laugh though.
Next home game is GCU, correct? I hope Mario is working to get the fans to show up for this game to drown out the fans GCU busses out to Las Cruces. Ask for a spot on all the local radio stations (even KISS FM, haha.) and explain GCU's antics. Really put a chip on LC's shoulder so they turn out and represent.