Five Takeaways Following UTEP Basketball’s 3rd Straight Win
The UTEP men's basketball team completed the sweep against travel partner UTSA in a tight 59-54 battle on Sunday.
Now, the Miners (11-8, 4-3 C-USA) will take its momentum and turn to another two-game road stretch against Florida Atlantic (Thursday) and Florida International (Saturday) this week.
“I thought we were really good defensively,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said following the Roadrunner win. “I thought overall it was a good defensive effort. At the end of the day we found a way to win, and you have to celebrate that."
Five takeaways from the win:
1. Miners win first game at Convocation Center in 7 years
The Miners' win against the Roadrunners on Sunday actually has some historical context. It was the team's first win at UTSA since 2015, as UTEP has now won three straight against UTSA in men's hoops.
In the first half, the two teams were locked in at a 6-6 tie before the Miners went on a 13-2 run over the next six minutes to lead 19-8. They ended the half with a 10 point lead, 30-20, as Jorell Saterfield hit four 3-pointers in the opening period.
UTEP got off to a solid start out of the half, but then cooled off a bit in the midway point. They led by as much as 15 points four minutes into the half, but UTSA marched back around the 10 minute mark. After the Roadrunners completed a 14-2 run to make it a one-score game (45-42), the Miners were able to rally back and responded with a 13-3 run to close the game with the win.
UTEP held UTSA to shooting just 34.5% from the floor (20-of-58). The Miners shot 40% from the floor, 40% from 3-point range and hit 75% of their free throw attempts.
“We got to 59 (points) and found a way to win the game,” Golding said. “You’re going to be in close games in this league. We are finding different ways to win games. (Give) credit to our guys. Adversity makes you strong, we’ve been tested on that this year. Our guys have stuck together and they deserve this (victory).”
2. Jorell Saterfield's 3-point hot streak continues
Jorell Saterfield has become an integral piece to this team as a trusted sharpshooter.
Following his career-high 18 point performance on six made 3-pointers Thursday, Saterfield scored 15 points with five 3-pointers on Sunday. He scored 33 points combined against the Roadrunners on 11-of-16 shooting from beyond the arc. What an exceptional weekend.
Saterfield is UTEP's most efficient 3-point scorer, nearly shooting 50% from the perimeter (49.4%). He's made 40 3-pointers on the year (40-of-81) and is also shooting 47.1% from the floor. The coaching staff continues to urge Saterfield to get better on defense, which is the next step for the sharpshooter to round out his overall game.
Let's see if he can keep it up this week at home.
3. Verhoeven & Sibley lead the Miner defensive intensity
The Miner defense totaled a whopping 11 blocked shots against UTSA, which was the highest for the program since the team blocked 12 shots against Middle Tennessee on Jan. 12, 2016. It was UTEP's two starting forwards that led the way blocking shots and protecting the paint.
Jamari Sibley (career-high five blocks) and Tydus Verhoeven (four) combined for nine of the team's 12 blocks on Sunday. Both Verhoeven and Sibley also combined to score 10 points for the team.
UTEP created 13 turnovers and scored 17 points off the Roadrunners' miscues.
4. Jamal Bieniemy is among the top guards in C-USA
There's a short list of the top guards in Conference USA and Jamal Bieniemy is definitely on that list. When the Roadrunners were starting to march back into the game, Bieniemy helped the Miners slow things down offensively and hold onto the lead to take the win. On Sunday, we saw one of his most complete games of the season thus far.
Bieniemy flirted with a triple-double as he totaled a team-high 18 points (6-of-17), 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals. He was instrumental in helping the Miners down the stretch solidify the road win.
He's now averaging 14.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
5. Can UTEP make it four straight wins?
This is the second three-game win streak that the Miners have strung together this year. The first came after the squad beat McNeese, New Mexico and NC Central before losing to Bradley in the championship round of the Sun Bowl Invitational.
Next up, the Miners take on a Florida Atlantic team that is equally as hot. The Owls have won three straight (Charlotte, Western Kentucky and Marshall), including a recent 11-point win over the Thundering Herd.
Fortunately for the Miners, they will host both Florida schools this week.