El Paso, Texas- The UTEP Miners Men’s Basketball Team defeated the Western Illinois Leathernecks in the opening round of The Basketball Classic by the score of 80-54.
The Miners were victorious in their first postseason game since 2015 and did it in dominating fashion leading from wire-to-wire.
The Miners simply proved superior to their opponents in every way, shape and form Saturday afternoon at the Don Haskins Center in front of over 3500 fans. UTEP jumped out to a double digit lead in the first five minutes of the game and never looked back.
It was quite the performance by the Miners on the 56th anniversary of the Texas Western College men’s basketball team winning the NCAA Championship.
Here’s what happened
- The starting five for the Miners today consisted of Souley Boum, Tydus Verhoeven, Christian Agnew, Keonte Kennedy and Jamari Sibley. UTEP jumped out to a 11-0 lead as a result of an relentless defensive effort by the Miners and inefficient shooting by Western Illinois as the went 0-12 in the first seven minutes of the half.
- The Miners kept their foot on gas for the remainder of the first half goin on to lead by as many as 16 points. Boum and Kennedy led the way for UTEP statistically with 11 and eight points respectively. They both had eight rebounds. UTEP shot an efficient 51% from the field, 27.3% from three point range. UTEP led Western Illinois by a score of 36-21.
- The Miners picked up right where they left off to start the second half. They continued to dominate and keep the Leathernecks at bay. UTEP would go on to lead by well over 15 points for a majority of the second half until finally winning by a 26-point margin.
- Without a doubt the player of the game was Souley Boum. The redshirt junior guard led the way with only the second triple double in school history. Boum had 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
What was said
After the game UTEP head coach Joe Golding spoke volumes about Boum, not just about today’s performance but regarding his year long’s work. Golding said, “The triple double to me doesn’t mean a ton, I just want to win games. At this historic program that we’re at to only have one triple double and for him to have the opportunity to do it. That guy has been in my foxhole since day one, he’s been a leader for us, has gotten us through this season, he’s been a big part of everything we’re building here and I thought he deserved the opportunity to try and do it.”
As for the Miners participating in this postseason tournament, Golding commented, “I’m proud of our guys, this was a player driven decision to play in the postseason, our players wanted to do it. I said I’d support them 100% as long as they were in and I thought today they showed they were.”
The Miners will now host another Basketball Classic game this coming Tuesday against an opponent, TBA. Tipoff time is scheduled for 7 p.m. MST. .
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.