UTEP Defense Too Much for Washington State in Hoops Opener
UTEP's offense may have reflected the change in the local weather. Ice cold.
The Miners' defense, on the other hand, was too long, too tall, too Vince Hunter-y.
"D" stood for dominant in a 65-52 opening night win over Washington State in front of 10,419 at the Don Haskins Center Friday night. Power forward Vince Hunter lived up to the position with 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds.
Hunter's double-double was the foundation of UTEP's smothering effort, and the stats supported it. The Miners out-hustled the Cougars for second-chance points (18-4), steals (11-5), rebounds (46-37) and blocks (7-5).
UTEP head coach Tim Floyd pointed to his team's height and length as a key reason behind the win. How long and tall were the Miners? Check out the video of 7-1 C Matt Willms putback dunk after Hunter's miss above. Nobody in a dark jersey was close to out-jumping either Hunter or Willms.
The "D" almost papered over a chilly night shooting the ball for the hosts. Almost.
Perhaps it was a small case of opening night jitters playing in front of a large home crowd, but the Miners followed a 35.7% effort in the first with an even colder 34.3% in the second.
Floyd feels there is still much to be done offensively before UTEP's next home game, Saturday, Nov. 22, against I-10 rivals New Mexico State.
But the smile he was sporting all through his post-game press conference was a dead giveaway. Defense delights.