El Paso, Texas- The UTEP Miners fell to the UAB Blazers 69-66 Saturday night at the Don Haskins Center. The Miners could not parlay the lead they took into the locker room at halftime into a win.
On a night where Keonte Kennedy made his return to the hardwood after being injured, he played 22 minutes and scored in double figures. Kennedy played within himself and did not try to overextend himself.
Unfortunately for the Miners they failed to execute in their last three possessions when the Blazers created a four point swing in the final four possessions of the game.
The record now stands at 16-12 and 9-6 in Conference USA play.
Here’s what happened
- UTEP’s starting five consisted once again of the same five we’ve come to know; Souley Boum, Tydus Verhoeven, Jamari Sibley Jorell Saterfield and Jamal Bieniemy. The visiting Blazers got off to a clumsy start turning the ball six turnovers in less than three minutes. The Miners then went on a 10-0 run five minutes into the game to take their first lead.
- UTEP’s Keonte Kennedy came into the game with 12:33 left in the first half, officially coming back from his foot injury (broken foot). Kennedy had missed 15 games because of it. He went on to score his first points of the game with 8:55 left in the game. UTEP played tough and quickly stopped any momentum that the UAB wanted to generate. The Miner took a 34-27 lead into the locker room at halftime.
- UAB came out hot to start the second half, UTEP came out slow. The Blazers went on a 9-0 run to start the second half taking a 36-34 lead. The game would start to score three minutes into the second half and the game entered a back and forth in every aspect including lead changes until with about 12 minutes to go in the game.
- The Blazers would take their biggest lead in the game up to that point with 10:06 left in the game, leading by seven, 52-45. UTEP cut the lead to four in a couple of possessions but UAB would not relinquish the lead. Then UTEP went on a 10-0 run in 3:16 to take the lead in the second half for the first time 60-58.
- The game came down to the last few possessions. Kennedy took an unnecessary three pointer when they were only down by one with less than 90 seconds to go. They then took too long to foul on the ensuing possession, leaving themselves with less than 15 seconds to try and tie the game. In the final play of the game UTEP did not execute the play the wanted when the Blazers came at them with unexpected high pressure.
What was said
After the game UTEP head coach Joe Golding said, “Late game situations we didn’t handle right, that’s on me. It starts and ends with me. We gotta do a better job of that and have our guys prepared to know exactly what we’re doing.”
Golding acknowledged a new development within his team, saying their belief and confidence is blossoming. “I think we believe in that locker room that we can play with anybody…and we’ve come a long with that.” Golding said.
As for the mood in the locker room after tonight’s game, Golding simply said, “They’re a hurt locker right now. That’s as hurt as I’ve seen them all year.”
Souley Boum showed that in the press conference after the game when he spoke to members of the media. Boum acknowledged that rebounds cost them tonight, “Everybody can look at those last possessions but that’s not the reason we lost, it was the game within the game rebounds and blockouts so we didn’t come to play on the rebounding part tonight.”
The Miners will have five days to prepare for their next opponent. The Miners will host Rice Owls next Thursday in their next to last home and regular season game of the season. The Miners defeated Rice 72-70 in Houston back on February 5th.
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.