UTEP made history on Wednesday night, rallying from a 24-point deficit and coming back to defeat UTSA, 80-77, in overtime, while ending a five-game losing streak to its Conference USA foe in the process.
Now, the Miners (11-7, 2-3 C-USA) and Roadrunners (8-10, 2-3 C-USA) will see each other again, this time at the Convocation Center in San Antonio, on Saturday, Jan. 18. The Texas rivals are set to tipoff at 2 p.m. MT.
Saturday’s contest will feature the top three scorers in C-USA. UTSA boasts the number one and three scorers in junior guards Jhivvan Jackson (26.0 points per game) and Keaton Wallace (17.2 ppg). Jackson also ranks second nationally in that department. Redshirt junior forward Bryson Williams ranks second in the league at 19.3 points per contest.
UTSA averages 77.9 points per game, ranking second in C-USA and 39th nationally, while it gives up 75.5 (13th in C-USA). The Roadrunners shoot at a high rate, ranking 15th nationally with 509 three-point attempts. The Birds rank first in conference and 10th nationally in three-pointers made (181), and third in three-point percentage (35.6).
“We have another tough game coming up,” second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “UTSA is hard to guard and we’ll have to rely on our defense. We’ll have to go over there and guard as hard as we can and try to have as much energy you can have in this ball game on Saturday.”
UTEP has put a clinic on at the charity stripe as of late. The Miners are shooting 89.7 percent (70-78) from the line during the last three games, and 77.0 percent overall. They rank second in the league and 18th nationally in free-throw percentage, while making 281 free throws – good for second in conference. In C-USA only games, UTEP is shooting a league-best 83.6 percent from the line.
On the Wednesday night, the Miners found themselves down 54-30 with 14:43 remaining in the contest. Going into the locker room at the half, Jackson and Wallace had outscored UTEP, 32-28, in the first half alone.
But behind Williams’s career-high 34 points Daryl Edwards career-most five three-point buckets, UTEP surged to its greatest comeback in program history, while it tied for 24th biggest victorious rally in NCAA history.
Williams and Edwards, along with Nigel Hawkins, Souley Boum and Eric Vila played the final 17:33 of the game, outscoring UTSA, 44-21 during that span. Williams and Edwards each played a career-high 42 minutes.
The UTEP defense stepped up, forcing nine turnovers in the final 25 minutes of action. With the Miners down 24 points, they used a 20-2 run to get within six points (56-50) at the 10:00 mark. UTEP forced four turnovers during that span.
UTEP took its first lead, 71-70, since the 14:26 mark (12-11) in the first half on an Edwards’s three-pointer in the overtime period. The Miners outscored the Roadrunners, 12-9, in the extra five minutes on 4-of-7 shooing. Williams and Edwards combined for eight points, while Vila and Boum each scored two in overtime. Vila also added a pair of assists.
Overall, Williams shot 13-of-24 from field and went a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, extending his streak to 21 consecutive made free throws. Williams notched his fourth double-double of the season after gathering 10 boards. He also snagged a pair of steals.
Edwards went 5-for-8 from downtown and chipped in with a trio of dimes along with a block and steal. Vila tied a career high by dishing out six assists and grabbing seven rebounds with six points.
Vila also drew his team-leading fourth charge in the final seconds in regulation. Hawkins tallied a season-high eight rebounds, and Boum tied his season high with four assists.
Fans can listen on 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling the action, while the contest will be streamed on ESPN3.