Backcourt Duo Propels Miners to Road Victory Over Owls, 72-64
Through this last up-and-down month, UTEP desperately needed an extra boost from their backcourt as a collective.
On a Thursday road game, where the outside noise was focused on forward Efe Odigie missing the trip, the backcourt carried UTEP to its first road win of the season, defeating Rice 72-64 in Houston.
It was UTEP's first true road win since March 3, 2018, and also the first under second-year head coach Rodney Terry.
Sophomore guard Souley Boum went on a scoring frenzy, finishing with a career-high 27 points including 11-for-12 at the free throw line. His counterpart in graduate transfer guard Daryl Edwards also ended the game with a career-best night of his own: 22 points on 9-of-19 shooting.
The victory is far from a quality win, though. Rice now lost eight of its last nine games and is 1-7 in conference play.
At the same time, the Owls stifled Bryson Williams, the second-leading scorer in C-USA (19.9 ppg), to fouling out with only three points in 27 minutes of action. And per UTEP, Odigie missed the team bus on Wednesday and did not travel with the team to Houston. The Miners struggled to get any offensive production from their frontcourt.
But their backcourt did just enough to win it, as Boum and Edwards combined for nearly 70 percent of UTEP's total points.
UTEP shot 45.3 percent from the floor, including a promising 50 percent (14-for-28) in the first half. But their shooting woes continued beyond the arch, nailing just 5-of-28 attempts at an abysmal 17.9 percent clip.
They made up for it defensively, where they held Rice under 40 percent from the floor and forced six turnovers. After the Owls hit seven 3-pointers in the first half, UTEP limited Rice to three in the second half and stunted their outside shooting game. Robert Martin (20 points) and Ako Adams (17) led the way for the Owls in this game, but they didn't have enough to fend off the Miners late in this game.
Eric Vila went scoreless for UTEP but led all teams with 11 total rebounds. Houston native Nigel Hawkins chipped in with eight points in front of his hometown, while Kaden Archie, Tydus Verhoeven and Deon Stroud each had four points for the team.
UTEP, who averages double-figures in turnovers each game, ended the game with only seven turnovers against the Owls.
Now the Miners (12-8, 3-4 C-USA) will travel to North Texas to take on a Mean Green squad that demolished UTSA 98-68 on Thursday evening. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. MT on Saturday.