Giddens leads New Mexico to overtime thriller over UTEP
EL PASO, Texas (AP)—J.R. Giddens had 20 points and 19 rebounds and Chad Toppert added 14 points, leading New Mexico to an 86-85 overtime win over Texas-El Paso on Wednesday night.
Daniel Faris and Darren Prentice each scored 13 for the Lobos (13-2) in a rough-and-tumble thriller that will be remembered as one of the best contests in the history of the 79-year-old rivalry.
Freshman Dairese Gary and Jamaal Smith each scored 10 as New Mexico won its sixth straight and closed on its non-conference schedule. The Miners (9-3) lost their first home game in seven tries this season.
Stephon Jackson and Randy Culpepper each scored 17 for UTEP, though Jackson — the nation’s sixth-leading scorer with a 25.5-point average—picked up two fouls in the first four minutes and sat most of the first half, scoring just two points.
It was a nailbiter most of the night until UTEP coach Tony Barbee, who got a technical foul late in the first half, was ejected after being whistled for his second technical with 3:11 remaining in overtime.
That was just enough of an opening for the Lobos, who finally delivered a knockout punch. Toppert made 1-of-2 foul shots for the technical, Jamaal Smith added two more free throws and Prentice scored on a fastbreak.
Just like that, the Lobos led 76-67 with 2:30 to go, flattening the crowd of 10,973 fans.
UTEP trimmed the deficit to 82-76 with 41 seconds remaining on a bucket by Marvin Kilgore and it was 84-79 seconds later when Culpepper hit a 3-pointer, but the Miners just couldn’t make up the difference.
Prentice made 1.2 free throws with 4 seconds on the clock, just enough for the victory when Kilgore made a meaningless 3-pointer at the horn.
Both teams missed a chance to finish it in regulation.
Jackson made two free throws with 1:23 remaining to put UTEP up 64-62 but Giddens tied it when he collected his own missed shot and drew a foul, making both free throws to tie it at 64-64 with 53.3 seconds to play.
On UTEP’s ensuing possession, Jackson missed a 20-footer and Gary came away with the ball for the Lobos.
After a New Mexico timeout, Giddens drove the right baseline and missed a floater, and Daniel Faris got the rebound but missed a putback at the regulation buzzer.