Make it five in a row. The UTEP Miners Men’s Basketball Team defeated the Florida International Panthers 79-68 Saturday night at the Don Haskins Center to extend their current winning streak to five games, winning six of their last seven games.
UTEP may have just put together their best half of basketball this season in the second half against the Panthers. The Miners were trailing at halftime, a deficit that was extended in favor of the visiting team early in the second half. Still, the Miners put together an effort that saw them lead by as many as 13 points.
The Miners settled in the final two and half minutes to close out the game by double digits enroute to improving their record to 13-8 overall and 6-3 in Conference USA play.
Here’s what happened
- Tonight’s starting five for the UTEP Miners consisted of Souley Boum, Tydus Verhoeven, Jamari Sibley, Jorell Saterfield and Jamal Bieniemy. The Miners got off to a hot start going 5 for 6 from 3-point range to jump out to a 17-12 lead in the first six minutes of the game.
- Florida International came roaring back to lead by as many as nine points with 5:40 left in the first half. Still the home team would rally back, get some defensive stops to cut the margin in the score down to two points, making the score 38-36 at halftime.
- The Panthers would extend their halftime lead to eight out of the gate in the second half. UTEP would come roaring back, going on a 9-0 run to take a 49-48 lead with 12:46 left in the game. These two teams were not only even when it came to the score, they were also even across the stat sheet.
- UTEP settled in and produced another run, this time it was an 8-0 run to allow the Miners to take a 61-53 lead. From there UTEP worked on building its largest of the game, 13 points.
- The Miners maintained a double digit lead with two and half minutes left in the game and were able to close out the game and maintain that type of lead with relative ease. UTEP did have a couple of turnovers down the stretch, still that was not enough to shake them up to put their win in any kind of serious danger.
What was said
After the game Tydus Verhoeven and Souley Boum spoke with the media. Both agree to key to tonight’s game was their defensive effort. Out of all of the aspects of the second half that allowed the Miners to get the comeback win, Verhoeven elaborated by saying, “(We’re most proud of) the fight back of course, to make those runs. But also keeping the lead is huge. You don’t relax, you play with poise and that’s a big thing for us, so we’re proud of the guys for that.”
Despite being on a winning streak, both players are in agreement there is still obviously room for improvement. Boum pinpointed defense, specifically saying, “We need to continue to play hard to rotate and scramble. The team’s were gonna play (on the road in their next two outings) their gonna run a lot of ball screens and fly around.”
To that Verhoeven simply added, “…and rebound”.
As for Miners head coach Joe Golding said, “In the second half we did a much better job at getting stops and rebounding the ball, we took care of the ball and found a way to win. We took care of home court, we won both games and obviously we have a tough February ahead.”
The Miners will play five of their next six games on the road.
It is the heart of the college basketball season. This means the regularity in which games are played is consistent. The Miners will return to action next Thursday as they make a two game trip through Texas.
UTEP will face North Texas in Denton next Thursday night and Rice in Houston two days later on Saturday afternoon
Author: Joe Rodriguez | Photog: Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post
Rodriguez is a life long El Pasoan. Joe has covered sports locally across the Borderland since 2007 for various media outlet both in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez as a personal passion as he is a professional in the world of healthcare (Physiatry). His favorite sports include soccer, auto racing, golf and horse racing.