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UTEP Drops Clemson 61-48 in Hawaii

Michael Perez led the way for the Miners with 25 points against Clemson. (Photo by Steve Kaplowitz)

The UTEP Miners took another huge step forward with their 61-48 victory over Clemson in the opener at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.  It’s hard to believe this is the same team that struggled so mightily in their first four games.

The team that struggled to generate offense is now manufacturing it from unlikely sources.  Sophomore Michael Perez hit double digits for the fifth time in six games with his 25 point output against the Tigers.

Freshman C.J. Cooper came off the bench to ignite the Miners in the second half with three huge three pointers.

Defensively, the Miners played another gem.  Whether it was a box and one or straight man, the Miners once again took the opponents leading scorers out of the game.  Andre Young and Devin Booker, Clemson’s two leading scorers, were held to six and five points respectively.

There were a couple of concerning moments for Miner fans.  Freshman Julian Washburn left the game in the first half with an apparent shoulder injury.  Senior Gabe McCulley didn’t log many minutes in the second half, but with Cooper and Perez leading the way he wasn’t missed too much.

Next up will be either Kansas State or Southern Illinois in the semifinal round of the tournament.  That game will tip off tomorrow at 3 p.m. local time.

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