UTEP 77 – Southern Miss 62: Miners Bounce Back, Dominate Golden Eagles
Less than 24 hours after the Miners suffered a meltdown in the final minutes, losing 74-66 (OT) in their C-USA opener, the team found redemption by dominating the Golden Eagles, 77-62, on Saturday and splitting the series.
It was the first time the Miners had won against Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, Miss. since Feb. 24, 2010.
The game was really balanced for UTEP scorers, seeing point guard Jamal Bieniemy lead the way with 20 points, seven assists and no turnovers. Souley Boum (17 points), Bryson Williams (10) and Tydus Verhoeven (11) all scored in double figures for the Miners. The team shot 51% (27-of-53) from the floor as a whole today, far better than shooting just 36% (25-of-69) on Friday.
They forced 18 turnovers to having only three turnovers of their own. UTEP scored 27 points off turnovers in this game.
"Really proud of my guys, and really proud of the way they stood tough," Rodney Terry said. "Our guys came in, we met and talked about learning from some of the stuff we didn't do the night before. Our guys came in and took this win."
Their first half of this game was far different from the first half of yesterday's loss. They were red-hot to start, shooting 75% (6-for-8) and led 13-7 early on. Georgia Tech transfer Kristian Sjolund led the Miners with a trio of 3-pointers off the bench, scoring a team-high nine points in the first half.
UTEP led for nearly 18 minutes in the first half, as Southern Miss twice secured a lead but then quickly surrendered it to the Miners. They led by as much as eight points by the 6:50 mark in the opening half, while the Golden Eagles scrapped back to make it a one-point UTEP lead at the half, 30-29.
They shot 40% from the floor in the first half (12-of-30), compared to shooting just 28% in the first half during Friday's 74-66 overtime loss. Plus, they forced eight turnovers defensively in the first half, leading to 13 points off turnovers.
UTEP completely dominated the second half, going on a 16-6 run to open the half. They led by nine at several points of the first ten minutes into the second half and then opened up their lead in the final 10 minutes. UTEP led by as much as 20 points in the second half (64-44). At the end, the Miners held firm and wouldn't let the Golden Eagles come back, as they won 77-62 at the end.
Up next: UTEP men's basketball (5-3, 1-1 C-USA) will gear up for their conference home opener versus Rice (8-2, 2-0 C-USA) on Friday and Saturday of next week at the Haskins Center. The Owls are coming off two wins against UTSA in their C-USA opening series, including an 84-69 win on Saturday over the Roadrunners. There hasn't been any indication on whether or not the game will be in front of fans. Friday's game will tip-off at 7 p.m. MT on C-USA TV and Saturday's contest will be broadcast on ESPN+. Both matchups can be heard on 600 ESPN El Paso.