Arizona 69 – UTEP 61: Miners Hang In But Fall Short Against the Wildcats
Rodney Terry had a goal for his team—improve each game during the tough three-game road stretch.
Through 40 minutes of back-and-forth basketball, UTEP proved that they got better from their loss to Saint Mary's (73-61), as they fell 69-61 to Pac-12 affiliate Arizona on Saturday.
Though they were out-rebounded 46-25 and allowed 22 fast break points, the Miners held Arizona to shooting 39% FG, 0% 3-point FG and forced 16 turnovers against the Wildcats. Souley Boum led the Miners in scoring for the fourth straight game with a team-high 16 points (4-of-12 FG), while Bryson Williams scored 10 points (4-of-13) and totaled seven rebounds.
"We kept battling," said third-year head coach Rodney Terry. "I love my team. This team is really good. We needed a physical mindset game like this. You're on the road, you're not going to get the calls. We got better this game. We did better in the second half... We gave ourselves a good opportunity to be in the game late."
Both teams went back-and-forth for the majority of the first half until the Wildcats pulled away in the final three minutes.
It started with the Miners pushing the ball inside the paint and flashing a zone defense. Before Tydus Verhoeven picked up two fouls and was out the majority of the first half, he put up a pair of early buckets. The Miners led by four points in the first five minutes (12-8) of the game.
Arizona went on a 13-4 run to lead the game 21-17, as the Miners fell into a five-minute scoring slump. The Wildcats built upon their lead using a 6-0 run in the final three minutes of the first half to lead the game as much as 35-25. UTEP scored a late bucket before the half ended, making it an eight-point game at the break, 35-27.
Boum led the way offensively in the opening half with eight points. Both the Miners (9) and the Wildcats (8) had a combined 17 turnovers in the opening half. There were six different lead changes in the half. Arizona made up for their mishaps by dominating UTEP off the glass (25-13). And for another game, UTEP came out shooting poorly in the first half (36% FG on 9-of-25).
UTEP had a spark early in the second half, breaking away on a 6-0 run early. Arizona followed it up by a 7-0 run of their own. Yet, Verhoeven and Boum had a pair of buckets to cut the Arizona lead to four points (61-57).
Arizona started pulling away a bit late in the game after Verhoeven fouled out, leading 65-57. Efe Odigie provided scoring effort off the bench in the second half, hitting two buckets to cut the lead to four points, 65-61. However, the Wildcats were able to pull away after the Miners went cold in the last 2:52 and couldn't score. Meanwhile, Arizona knocked down two sets of free throws to win the game, 69-61.
UTEP shot 41% from the floor, 33% from 3-point range and totaled 13 turnovers offensively.
Up next: The Miners (2-2) will now face No. 23 Arizona State on Wednesday, Dec. 16th in Tempe, Arizona. UTEP has lost 17 consecutive road non-conference games dating back to 2013.