Five Takeaways After UTEP’s 69-67 Road Loss to FIU
The big story entering this morning's game against FIU was that UTEP head coach Rodney Terry was hospitalized in Miami with an allergic reaction and away from the team. Despite trailing Florida International by 10 points at halftime, it looked like the UTEP men's basketball team was in position to win their first road game since March of 2018. Despite outscoring FIU 37-24 over the first 15-minutes in the second half, the Miners registered only four points the rest of the way to lose their first conference game 69-67 to FIU in Miami Beach. UTEP had plenty of great looks over the final few minutes including a three-point attempt by Anthony Tarke that went in and out and a lay-up by Daryl Edwards that would not stay down. Still, this was a basketball game that the Miners should have won. Instead, they are now 9-5 overall and 0-1 in C-USA play. Here are five takeaways after UTEP's conference opener.
1. UTEP can make second half adjustments. The Miners trailed the Panthers by 10 points, and they had 13 turnovers through the first 20 minutes. The team turned the ball over only four times in the second half and put themselves into position to win the basketball game.
2. Deon Stroud can score. A big reason why the Miners were only losing by 10 points at halftime is because he scored 10 points in 11 minutes coming off the bench. Surprisingly, Stroud did not play at all in the second half, despite Souley Boum and Anthony Tarke struggling offensively. Stroud's offensive output is a good sign for a team that needs more secondary scorers for conference play.
3. Life without Jordan Lathon will be fine for the Miners. With the sophomore guard in the transfer portal and having left the program, Nigel Hawkins picked up the slack with nine points and four assists. Boum and Edwards each had three assists while Eric Vila came off the bench to lead the team with five assists. Unfortunately, Vila's late turnover proved costly in the Miners' loss.
4. The Miners had plenty of chances to win this game. The biggest reason why the loss to FIU stings is because of all the missed opportunities. With UTEP trailing FIU 68-65 with :58 left in the ballgame, they had multiple opportunities for the road victory. However, Hawkins had a missed free throw, Edwards missed layup, and Vila's turnover with 9-seconds left proved costly.
5. Bryson Williams will have to work hard for every point he scores. The second leading scorer in C-USA had just two points over the final 12:50 of the game. Get used to it, UTEP fans. Every team in C-USA will be doubling Williams while making the rest of the Miners beat them. The junior from Fresno still finished with 12 points on 6-9 shooting, but Stroud's first half and Edwards second half kept UTEP in this game.