Christian Agnew | photo courtesy Southern Miss Athletics
HATTIESBURG, Ms. – Jamal Bieniemy kept his hot hand, scoring 20 points and dishing out seven assists with zero turnovers to lead UTEP past Southern Miss, 77-62, on Saturday afternoon in Reed Green Coliseum.
The Miners (5-3, 1-1 Conference USA) only turned the ball over three times, while shooting 65.2 percent (15-23) in the second half. Overall, UTEP shot 50.9 percent (27-53) and went 10-for-22 from beyond the arc. Despite shooting over 53 percent and outrebounding the Miners, 32-17, the Golden Eagles (5-4, 1-1 C-USA) tallied 18 turnovers, and were outscored 27-4 on points off turnovers.
“We knew we were going to play a team who was confident, after we gave them a win the night before,” third-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We had to come in today and take this win. And my guys took this win.”
Saturday’s victory at Southern Miss was the first since Feb. 24, 2010, while UTEP snapped a nine-game losing streak in Hattiesburg.
The Miners controlled the pace of the ball game and led for over 37 minutes. After being down 29-28, UTEP took a one-point lead (30-29) into the locker room after a Bieniemy layup following a USM turnover. UTEP then came out of the second half firing and built a 20-point lead (64-44) at the 8:40 mark after a Souley Boum three. Boum scored all of his 17 points during the second half, shooting 6-of-8 from the foul line and 3-of-5 from downtown.
Tydus Verhoeven, after being held scoreless on Friday night, tallied 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. He added two rebounds and assist and two steals. Bryson Williams hit double figures with 10 points and recorded three boards.
Terry only went two-deep off the bench, but received efficient play from Christian Agnew and Kristian Sjolund. Agnew played over 25 minutes and scored eight points with three rebounds and two assists, while Sjolund was a spark in over 17 minutes of action, scoring nine points on a trio of threes in the first half.
“Kristian Sjolund came in and does what he does in terms of shooting the basketball and made some shots for us. He really spaced the floor and did a great for us,” Terry said.
Bieniemy during the last two games, is averaging 19.0 points on 61.5 percent shooting (16-26). The junior point guard is also averaging 7.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds, while only turning the ball over three times. He’s added two blocks and a pair of steals.
“JB [Jamal Bieniemy] was really good in transition today,” Terry said. “He took care of the ball and made really good decisions in transition.”
Tyler Stevenson, who poured in 26 points on Friday night, was held to 10 points. Jaron Pierre Jr. led USM with 15 points.
“[Stevenson] got loose on us last night, but I thought Tydus’s defense was really good today,
Terry added. “We made a few adjustments on their sets they did the night before and I thought our post guys did a really good job.”
Up next, UTEP will host Rice in its C-USA home opener in back-to-back games on Jan. 8 and 9. Both games are set for a 7 p.m. MT tipoff in the Haskins Center.
The Miners and Golden Eagles can be heard on 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling the action. Friday’s game will be streamed on CUSA.tv, while Saturday’s contest will be streamed on ESPN+. The Owls are 2-0 in league play after a pair of wins against UTSA.