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Rams Buck Miners in Sun Bowl Invitational Opener

UTEP Basketball
Gabe McCulley led the way for the Miners with 13 points in the loss to CSU. (Photo by Steve Kaplowitz)

The UTEP Miners had to come back from Hawaii feeling pretty good about themselves.  They downed Clemson and Auburn and hung tough with a talented Kansas State team.

Always the diplomat, Tim Floyd was concerned about facing Colorado State in the opening game at the 50th edition of the Bank of the West Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.

It turns out Floyd’s premonition came to fruition.  With sharp shooting Wes Eikmeier leading the way with 16 points, former WAC rival Colorado State downed UTEP 56-53.  Eikmeier, the Iowa State transfer, made 7 of 8 shots and scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half.  As a team the Rams shot a blistering 57.9% in the second half.

C.J. Cooper’s three pointer with 39 seconds cut the Ram lead to 56-53.  After securing a rebound, the Miners had a chance to send the game into overtime.  Rather than call a timeout and set up an play, Floyd opted to let his young team play it out.

Floyd explained his rationale in the post game presser before he could be asked about it.  The coach said he was sure Colorado State would foul out of the timeout, thus forcing the Miners to hit two free throws and be forced to foul Colorado State.  Floyd also went on to say the spacing wasn’t very good on C.J. Cooper’s shot that was woefully off the mark.

The loss drops the Miners to 6-7.  UTEP will face Arkansas Pine-Bluff at 5:30 in tomorrow’s consolation game.  Colorado State and Jacksonville State will battle for the title in the night cap.

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