BIRMINGHAM, Al. – Evan Gilyard scored 21 of his 25 points in the first half, giving UTEP a halftime lead. But UAB outscored the Miners, 47-31, in the second half and claimed a 76-63 victory on Thursday night in Bartow Arena.
“We didn’t start the second half the right way and we really didn’t close the first right and gave up a bad play to end the half,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “Then we weren’t ready in the first four minutes of the second half for whatever reason at the level of intensity you have to have on the road. We let a couple 50-50 balls get away from us and we gave them some easy baskets.”
The Miners (6-10, 1-4 Conference USA) got off to a blazing start, going up 13-2 in the first four minutes of the contest. However, the Blazers (11-7, 3-2 C-USA) answered with a 14-0 run to take a 16-13 lead at the 10:09 mark.
Efe Odigie ended the run with a two-point bucket in the paint, while the Miners finished the first half on a 19-13 run to take a 32-29 halftime lead. At one point, the Miners had a 32-27 lead and possession of the ball with second remaining in the first half, but a turnover led to a UAB bucket right before the buzzer.
The Blazers outscored the Miners 10-4 and took a three-point lead at the 13:32 mark after an explosive dunk by Tavin Lovan. Makhtar Gueye followd with a jumper, giving his squad a 41-36 lead and never looked back.
Gilyard was on fire in the first half, scoring on 6-for-12 shooting, including a 4-for-6 effort from downtown.
Odigie registered his seventh career double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Nigel Hawkins scored 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc, while lead the team with four assists. Jordan Lathon tallied seven points and seven rebounds.
The Blazers took control in the second half, going up as many as 17 points. UAB outrebounded UTEP, 34-26, while the Blazers only turned the ball over 10 times.
Lewis Sullivan led UAB with 18 points, while Zack Bryant and Lovan each chipped in with 14 points.
UTEP will play at Middle Tennessee (4-14, 1-4 C-USA) Jan. 19. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. MT in the Murphy Center. The Blue Raiders are coming off an 89-86 win against UTSA, handing the Roadrunners their first league loss of the season in Murfreesboro.