El Paso, Texas- The UTEP Men’s Basketball Team defeated the best team in Conference USA, the North Texas Mean Green 70-68.
The Miners beat a team that came into the Borderland on a 15 game winning streak.
The win improved UTEP’s regular season record to 18-12 overall and 11-7 in Conference USA play. A more than solid regular season campaign for a UTEP team that was under the command of Joe Golding in his first season as the Miners’ head coach. This was the most games the Miners have won in a regular season campaign since 2015-2016.
Souley Boum came up big in the second half scoring 20 points to lead the way and locking up the victory against a team that had not lost on the road all season long.
All-in-all significant win for UTEP to end the regular season no matter how you look at it.
Here’s what happened
- Today’s starting five for the Miners changed up a bit from what has become head coach Joe Golding’s “go to” starting lineup. Souley Boum, Tydus Verhoeven, Keonte Kennedy, Alfred Hollins and Jamal Bieniemy. The Miners got off to a blazing hot start going on a 15-0 run over the course of 7:47 to take a 17-2 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game.
- The Miners kept the defensive pressure on despite not taking advantage of a few easy baskets on a number of possessions to maintain a double digit lead. Keonte Kennedy led the way for the Miners with 13 points in the first half, giving the Miners a 35-21 lead at halftime.
- UTEP started the second half by scoring only one basket in the first 6:46 of the second half allowing the Mean Green back into the game as the Miners lead dwindled to only six points with a little more than 13 minutes to go in the game.
- The game became a bit of a free throw battle down the stretch and UTEP prevailed making 19 out of 21 free throws to keep the Mean Green at bay. In addition, the defensive effort never waivered.
- UTEP had three players in double digits, the biggest surprise of them all today was Jamari Sibley who had 11 points coming off the bench in the 22 minutes that he played.
What was said
After the game, Keonte Kennedy was asked if he thought this team was peaking at the right time to which Kennedy said, “We keep getting better every game, so we haven’t played our best basketball yet”
As for Joe Golding and this significant win he said, “I wanted a big win here at home and to get it in the last home game and beat what I think is one of the best teams in college basketball, I’m just so excited for our fans, our community and obviously our players.”
Golding concluded, “For our players, to trust the process, fight all year and be rewarded in the last game I’m just so proud. I can’t thank the fans enough, as the season came to an end the fans got bigger and bigger. If we want to compete for championships and build this program, a big part of that is our home court advantage and crowd.”
The Miners will now head to Frisco, Texas for the Conference USA tournament. They will face Old Dominion on Wednesday in the first round of the tournament. Tipoff is scheduled for shortly after 7 pm.
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.