Miners’ Win Streak Halted in Orlando
The entire basketball world is convening in central Florida for the NBA All Star Break. Tim Floyd once coached in the NBA, Michael Jordan's son hoops it up for UCF, and Julian Washburn's father was the third pick in the 1986 NBA draft. Those are the only all NBA tie-ins I can think of for UTEP or Central Florida.
In much less publicized and hyped basketball news from central Florida, the UTEP Miners put their four game win streak on the line against the UCF Knights. This was not just any old four game winning streak. After home wins over Tulsa and Tulane, the Miners downed Memphis at the FedEx Forum. UTEP slayed another C-USA top dog at home with a 76-68 double OT win over Southern Miss.
The Miners were quickly earning that reputation of 'the team you don't want to face come tournament time.' The veteran, talented Knights brought UTEP and their fan base back to Earth with a 63-45 victory over the Miners last night.
The score doesn't indicate how hard fought the game was. UCF led by two at the half, and held a 5-10 point lead for most of the second half. Leading 52-45, the Knights put the game away with consecutive three point plays from Isaiah Sykes and Keith Clanton. Despite a dismal shooting effort from the Knights (38.3%), UCF was adept at getting to the charity stripe. UCF attempted 19 foul shots to just 6 by the Miners.
Once again, the Miners struggled to generate consistent offense. John Bohannon contributed 16 points, but no other Miner reached double figures. Wednesday's hero, C.J. Cooper, could only muster three points in 21 minutes off the bench.
Miner fans shouldn't feel too discouraged by the loss. The Knights are 15-1 at home, and feature a core of veteran players. UTEP is still capable of making a run in the C-USA tournament and 'stealing' a bid a la Houston 2010.
UTEP closes its home schedule on Wednesday against Rice. Gabe McCulley will be the only senior honored on senior night.