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UTEP Gets Board: Miners Rip Ball, Game from Pirates in Win, 70-56 [VIDEO]

Duke Keith

You’ll forgive Tim Floyd if he preaches the fundamentals. The Miners head coach is trying to teach his young team how to play basketball at the Division 1-A level in many respects.

One of the problem areas this season has been defensive rebounding, and to that end practices have always focused on positioning, hustle and muscle.

Floyd’s Miners don’t have a whole lot of the latter, but they’re getting better at the first two, which he says makes coaching much more enjoyable (see post-game video at bottom).

On the other hand, in UTEP’s Wednesday Conference USA tilt, Jeff Lebo’s East Carolina team seemed content to view the paint as a rifle scope to aid in the aiming of three-point shots, of which the Pirates floated 29 in the game — more than half of their total attempts — making 10.

The result was a rebounding bloodbath that the Miners were only too happy to claim. UTEP out-boarded ECU, 14-5, in the first half and by 20 in the game, 39-19. And though the Pirates took a brief lead in the second half, the Miners regained their fundamental focus and pulled away for a second straight conference win.

Check the final stats, and it was more lopsided than the final score indicated. UTEP missed only three of its 21 free throws while East Carolina attempted only three from the line all night.

Three.

When it comes to fouls, getting hometowned is one thing. But ECU played offense like it was a risk-aversion exercise.

Sophomore center John Bohannon is making double-doubles a de rigueur occurrence. His 17 points and 14 boards were game-highs. The 14 rebounds ties his career high.

Senior Gabe McCulley overcame a shaky first half to pour in 16 points and seven rebounds, while Julian Washburn got the crowd on their feet twice in the second half with a pair of powerful dunks en route to a 12-point night.

Michael Perez also got into double digits with 10 points, his last three coming from a well-timed three-point shot — one of only three he took — that came with East Carolina still nipping at the Miners’ heels.

At 3-2 in Conference USA, it’s the first time UTEP has been over .500 in C-USA play as it readies for a three-game road swing.

East Carolina drops to 0-4 in league play. Maybe that scope is off.

NOTES OF NOTE: Wednesday saw another Miners great have his jersey lifted to the rafters. Former UTEP and NBA big man Antonio Davis was on hand as his number 34 jersey was retired at halftime.

Floyd, who recruited Davis but never got to coach him after taking the head coaching job at Idaho, called him a “self-made man” in his post-game comments (see video at bottom).

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