The UTEP Miners men’s basketball team continued their undefeated streak defeating the Austin Peay Governors by a score of 71-63 Friday night at the Don Haskins Center in the opening round of the SoCal Challenge. With the win, the Miners remain a perfect 4-0 on the season.
Senior guard Tae Hardy led the way for the Miners with 25 points, five assists and four rebounds in a game where the Miners led from the opening minutes and never looked back. Once again UTEP head coach Joe Golding used a 10-man rotation over the course of the game as this team’s depth continues to pay dividends.
The most obvious weakness that continues to stand out for UTEP is their free throw shooting, they only shot 45% from the charity stripe. This is where the Miners need to improve the most because free throw accuracy can make the difference in games as the season progresses and they face stiffer competition. This can possibly be put to the test on Monday against Cal in SoCal.
Here’s what happened
- The game took no time to become a scoring affair as both teams combined for 25 points in the first five and half minutes of the game with the Miners starting out ice cold from the free throw line in that time shooting 20% (1 for 5).
- The Miners were able to extend the lead to lead by as many as 13 points with a little more than five minutes to go in the contest. Despite that margin, UTEP head coach Joe Golding was very animated on the bench, presumably because his players weren’t executing to his liking. Still, Golding’s team went into halftime winning 38-27.
- The visiting Governors came out ready to get back into the game in the second half, outscoring the home team 10-5 in the first five minutes. UTEP would over the course of the next five and half minutes, led by Tae Hardy, open up its largest lead of the game (16 points) to lead 58-42 going into the final 9 and half minutes of the game.
- The Miners once again closed out the game with ease and no complications, never allowing the Governors to trail by less than double digits.
What was said
After Tae Harding spoke with the media,declaring that the confidence his teammates have in him is what’s allowed him to have a performance like he did tonight. “It makes it easier when you play with players that trust in you and I trust them.” As for their first road game of the season coming up on Monday Harding said, “It’s a neutral site, so they are playing on the road as well. We have to go out there and play hard, play for each other, and have fun. If we do those things, the game plan and everything will fall into place.”
Despite another win, Joe Golding was quick to point out where his team lacked on Friday night. “We did not have our team prepared (for their defensive scheme), we turned it over a ton. We were bad offensively. We have to do a better job of giving our guys a game plan so they can go out and execute.”
The self-critique continued, “If you’re gonna be a good team, you have to learn to execute in the half court and we did not do a good job”. The UTEP head coach declared that their defensive effort is what allowed them to win.
As for Hardy’s performance, Golding said, “I’m so proud of him. He trusts his teammates and he’s finding other guys. He’s great in huddles, he’s great in practice. He brings it everyday in practice. I trust Tae Hardy 100%”
The Miners will now hit the road for the first time this season and will travel to southern California to face Cal on Monday night in what will be the second round of the SoCal Challenge. The late night game will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network. Tipoff is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. MST.
Author: Joe Rodriguez – 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.