Souley Boum recorded a game-high 22 points, but UAB’s stingy defense held UTEP’s offense in check on its way to a 63-51 win on Friday night in Bartow Arena.
The Miners (8-9, 4-7 Conference USA) shot 33.9 percent from the field, including a dismal 3-for-20 effort from beyond the arc. The Blazers (15-2, 8-1 C-USA) won their fifth consecutive game led by Trey Jemison’s double-double (14 points, 13 rebounds) and Quan Jackson’s team-high 18 points. UAB outrebounded UTEP, 43-32, while grabbing 10 offensive boards in the process.
UAB improved to 12-1 at home, while UTEP fell to 2-7 on the road.
“I think they’re a really good defensive team, but I think we did a pretty good job defensively. We were right where we needed to be at the half in terms of getting stops,” third-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We didn’t play completely great offensively in the first half, but still had it at a two-possession ball game at the half. We had some really good looks, but UAB made a couple more plays. I think some of the toughness plays down the stretch and UAB got a couple of offensive rebounds that kept them alive a little bit for second-chance opportunities.”
Boum, who played all 40 minutes, struggled from the field, shooting 7-of-20, but recorded 20 or more points in his fifth straight game.
Randy Culpepper was the last Miner to do so during the 2010-11 season. Boum finished 6-for-7 from the foul line, upping his free-throw percentage to 81.2 on the season. Boum added five rebounds and three assists, but had a career-high seven of UTEP’s 10 turnovers.
Bryson Williams was the other Miner in double figures with 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the floor and led UTEP with eight rebounds in 40 minutes of action. Kristian Sjolund played a career-high over 24 minutes off bench, recording five points.
Keonte Kennedy (four points) and Jamal Bieniemy (one point) were the only other players to score for the Miners. Bieniemy finished 0-for-9 from the field, and tallied six boards with three assists and no turnovers.
The Miners were hanging with the no. 1 team in C-USA, as they cut the lead to five points on three occasions during the second half. A Kennedy layup cut the deficit to six points (49-43) with 8:17 to play, but UTEP followed with five consecutive misses on field goal attempts over a five-minute span.
In the first, the Blazers took a 10-point lead (28-18) after a dunk by Jackson at the 6:13 mark. But the Miners battled back and cut the lead to four points (32-28) going into the locker room. Sjolund drained a 3-pointer and Boum hit a pair of free throws with just over four minutes left that started a 5-0 spurt.
Boum hit another UTEP 3-point bucket that cut the lead to two points (30-28) at the 2:41 mark, but Jackson scored the last basket of the half with 2:13 to go.
UAB shot 42.1 percent from the floor and went 14-of-18 from the foul line. The Blazers bench outscored the Miners, 24-5. Michael Ertel scored 12 of his 14 points during the second half.
Up next, UTEP and UAB will run it back on Saturday afternoon. The Miners and Blazers will tipoff at 3 p.m. MT and will be streamed ESPN+.
The contest can also be heard on the home of UTEP Basketball 600 ESPN El Paso and the UTEP Miners App with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher behind the mic.