Amid a Two-Game Skid, Miners Left to Regroup Against Ball State
We knew the month of December would tell a lot about this UTEP basketball team.
It started with the unorthodox scheduling, as the Miners faced two Division I teams all of November and through Dec. 7, UTEP had only played four Division I games—two being against NMSU. Starting with the Sun Bowl Invitational, the Miners are undergoing a 10-day stretch where they will have played five Division I teams.
And after back-to-back losses—first, to Houston (77-57) and to Hawai'i (67-63) in the first round of the Diamond Head Classic—UTEP is left to regroup quickly for a matchup against Ball State (6-5) in the consolation round of the tournament.
Maybe we don't know everything about the 8-3 Miners.
The Miners controlled the game against the home Hawai’i team on Sunday but crumbled in the end and fell to the Rainbow Warriors. UTEP turned the ball over 17 times, lost the rebound battle (34-30) and could not use a Bryson Williams 33-point performance to give them the win.
Hawai’i used big games from Bernardo Da Silva (17 points, five rebounds) and Samuta Avea (16 points) to beat the Miners in the closing minutes of the first round.
Now, UTEP has lost 15 straight road games and still hasn't won a road game under second-year head coach Rodney Terry.
“We had opportunities and there were times when we had the game the way we wanted it and going in the direction we wanted it,” second-year UTEP head coach Rodney Terry said. “We were up nine, but then had unforced turnovers that you can’t have and gave [Hawai’i] momentum, especially at their home.”
Williams has been relied on heavily by the Miners, scoring on 13-of-26 shot attempts last night and tied his career-high in points (33). Williams also had five rebounds, two steals four turnovers in 35 minutes of action. Daryl Edwards (12) and Souley Boum (10) also scored in double-figures for UTEP.
Ball State lost to No. 22 Washington (85-64) in the first round of the tournament. They have three scorers in Tahjai Teague (14.2 ppg), Ishmael El-Amin (14.2 ppg) and Kyle Mallers (11.4 ppg) that score in double figures for the Cardinals.
It will be a late tipoff tonight at 11:30 p.m. MT. We will have all the action starting at 11 on 600 ESPN El Paso.