No cheerleaders and no mascot!
The UTEP men's basketball team was left to fend for itself in enemy territory at the Battle of Interstate 10 in Las Cruces last weekend.
Saturday night at the Pan American Center UTEP and New Mexico State did battle in what turned out to be another great college basketball rivalry game with the Aggies prevailing in a 55-51 thriller!
But while the Aggie cheerleaders and mascot rooted on their team and poked a little fun at the Miners' expense, a pinata was the only sign of Paydirt Pete in the entire arena. And that's because neither he or the UTEP cheerleaders were in attendance.
So ABC-7 asked UTEP Athletic Director Bob Stull why.
"It's pretty simple, from what I understand," Stull said. "There's space issues on the floor for both sides."
Back on November 28 at the Haskins Center, in round one of the rivalry, the Aggie cheerleaders and mascot were also a no-show.
"Both staffs, when they came down, the cheerleaders wanted to bring their entire team and there's really not any area for them to be and they have to stay down all the time and stuff," Stull said. "It became somewhat of a problem, so they just agreed before the season started not to do it."
Security has been a concern at the Pan Am Center in the past. The mascots have come to blows before and ABC-7 cameras spotted an overzealous NMSU fan being wrestled to the floor at the end of Saturday night's game by security.
But Stull denied it had anything to do with security.
"If there's not enough room," he said, "there's not enough room."
Stull suggested ABC-7 contact UTEP cheerleading coach David Vasquez for a further explanation. But he did not return phone calls, texts or emails. The NMSU cheerleading coach also did not return calls and no other Aggie official was made available.
In addition to Stull, another UTEP official told ABC-7 the agreement for the opposing cheerleaders not to attend was made before the season simply due to space reasons.