El Paso, Texas -
There weren't any miracle comebacks for the UTEP Miners this year as the New Mexico State Aggies blasted UTEP 78-65 at the Don Haskins Center.
Last February the Aggies lost a 16-point first half lead in falling at UTEP 85-81 in overtime.
Saturday night the trio of brothers James and Jason Fontenet and senior Brandon Mason keyed the Aggie victory.
Jason Fontenet scored a season high 17 points while James Fontenet scored a career high 19 points and Mason added a season high 22 points.
New Mexico State made 14 of 29 3-point shots with Jason and James Fontenet and Mason combining to hit 11 of 20 attempts.
New Mexico State, which has played its first six games without its top two returning scorers and rebounders from a year ago in Chris Jackson and James Moore, is now 5-1 on the season.
UTEP falls to 1-4.
"From the 10-minute mark of the first half to the 10-minute mark of the second half, that's about as well as we've played this year," said Aggie head coach Lou Henson. "We were hitting our shots, we were fast breaking and we were playing defense. Our defense at times was fantastic. When we had our best players in the game, they didn't score a lot of points"
The Aggie frontcourt duo of James Felder and Kesley Crooks scored only 2 points on the night, although Crooks did lead the Aggies with 7 rebounds.
"We got into foul trouble and our inside people struggled," said Henson. "Practically everything came from the outside. Our outside guys shots well."
New Mexico State shot just under 47 percent from the floor including 48 percent in the second half.
"We did the best job we've done this year running the offense," said Henson. "We got open shots and we knocked them down. When we get our two big guys back, we'll have more of an inside attack and give us some flexibility on offense."
No one is more surprised by the Aggies quick start without their two top returning players than Henson.
"I didn't' think we'd be 5-1 at this point. Our perimeters players have carried our offense."
New Mexico State led 39-22 at the half and didn't let up to start the second half.
The Aggies out scored the Miners 26-16 in the first 9 1/2 minutes of the second half to grab a commanding 65-38 lead with 10:23 left in the game. The Aggies went deep into their bench in the final 10 minutes allowing UTEP to close the gap.
The Aggies dominated the Miners over the final 10 minutes of the first half to grab a 39-22 halftime lead.
The Aggies led by just one, 14-13, with just over 9 minutes left in the first half, but put together a 13-0 run over the next 5 minutes to grab a 27-13 advantage.
The Aggies held UTEP scoreless from the 9:16 mark until the 4:12 mark of the first half. The Aggies held the Miners without a field goal for over 8 minutes, with UTEP getting just four free throws during that stretch. In fact, the Aggie defense allowed the Miners only one field goal over the final 11 minutes of the half.
Jason Fontenet started the scoring run by scoring six straight points with a pair of jumpers, a steal and a layup. Brandon Mason then scored seven consecutive points on a 3-point shot, a layup and a jump shot.
UTEP cut the Aggie lead to 10, 30-20, with 2:54 left in the half, but the Aggies put together a 9-2 run to close the half. The Aggies scored on three consecutive 3-point baskets, two by James Fontenet and the final one by his brother Jason.
The Aggies made 7-of-15 3-point field goals in the first half and turned the ball over just 3 times while forcing 13 Miners turnovers. Mason had 12 first half points with Jason Fontenet adding 11 and James Fontenet coming off the bench to contribute 9 points. The Aggies led 17 at the half despite no points from starters James Felder and Kelsey Crooks.
UTEP shot 14 free throws compared to just 4 for the Aggies in the first half, but the Miners were held to just 33 percent