UTEP Defeats Southern Miss 76-68 in a Thrilling Double OT Game.
It took the majority of the season, but it seems as though UTEP has finally figured out a way to win close basketball games. The Miners have won their last 4 games, 2 of which went into overtime against Tulane and Southern Miss.
Even more impressive was their ability to win at Memphis last Saturday, and defeat the best team in C-USA, Southern Miss yesterday evening. By accomplishing this feat, the Miners became only the second team to defeat both Memphis and Southern Miss this season. The other team to do this is Murray State who just so happens to be 26-1, and ranked 14th in the country.
The 16 point comeback victory was the largest margin that the Miners have ever overcome since joining C-USA in 2005. They were able to outscore Southern Miss 26-10 in the final 12:05 of the game to overcome the double digit deficit. Freshmen guard C.J. Cooper ignited the spark that UTEP needed to get the victory.
Cooper, who had been in quite an offensive slump scored 16 points in the game, all of which came in the 2nd half and in overtime. Coach Floyd mentioned how unexpected the victory was, he had this to say,
Cooper hit the game tying shot with just 8 seconds remaining in regulation, and then helped his team seal the deal in the second OT with a clutch basket putting the Miners up 71-68 with only 41.4 seconds left.
After the game Coach Floyd discussed how pleased he is that his team has been able to comeback in their last 2 games and defeat Memphis and Southern Miss. He mentioned this,
For the Miners it was their 2nd consecutive win over the first place team in C-USA, and they are red hot winning their last 4 games overall,which is their longest winning streak of the season. When I asked Coach Floyd about the team playing so well lately he said,
The Miners seemed to have found a way to play as a cohesive unit by winning some crucial games lately. The most important thing to remember is that it is not how you start the season that counts, but how you finish. Last time I checked UTEP won in Memphis against a team who does not lose conference games at home. I should mention that the C-USA tournament is in Memphis again this season. Confidence is something that the Miners will have entering the tournament next month.