Giddens leads New Mexico to overtime thriller over UTEP

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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.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 New Mexico
J. Giddens J. Giddens
6-18,  20 Pts
19 Rebs, 7 Assists
 UTEP
M. Kilgore M. Kilgore
4-13,  14 Pts
4 Rebs, 9 Assists

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Wednesday, Jan 2