Five Takeaways from UTEP’s 69-64 Comeback Win Over UTSA
After trailing for nearly 30 minutes of the game, the Miners men's basketball team overcame an 11-point halftime deficit to rally back and beat UTSA, 69-64, at the Haskins Center on Thursday night.
In front of 5,021 fans, the men's basketball team used a 16-4 run in the second half to lift them to the close home win. UTEP (10-8, 3-3 C-USA) will now have to travel on Sunday to face the Roadrunners as part of the home-and-home series.
“We showed maturity and found a way to win,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. “It wasn’t a pretty game, but I like those types of games. You find out a lot about your team when they continue to fight and we did. We fought the second half, we showed some maturity and we were better defensively in the second half.”
Here are five takeaways from last night:
1. Slow start hurts Miners in first half
To say that the Miners overlooked the Roadrunners is an understatement. The Miners came out in the first half uninspired and allowed the visitors to get on a 12-3 start through the first five minutes of the game. UTEP was able to tie the game up, 25-25, with 5:31 left in the opening half. However, UTSA closed out the half on a 13-2 run and led 38-27 at the break.
The Miners struggled to find any consistency offensively in the first half. Conversely, they also allowed UTSA to shoot 67% from the floor in the opening period.
2. Fans are selling the grey 'Mineros' jerseys
Prior to the game, I asked the UTEP faithful what they thought of the team's all grey uniforms that they sported on Thursday. The early consensus is that the Miner fans are out on these jerseys, which were worn in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Night. While the honor is great for this program, the jerseys didn't sit well with the fans.
3. Saterfield ignites second half rally
To start things off in the second half, the Miners went on a 7-1 run to cut it to a five-point UTSA lead, 39-34, at the 17:19 mark. But the squad needed a lift from someone offensively. Jorell Saterfield stepped up to the plate and answered in a big way.
The sharpshooter drilled a career-high six 3-pointers for the Miners (6-of-8) and finished the game with 18 points. He hit a trio of 3's in the second half to give UTEP its second lead of the game, 46-45. The Miners, fueled by Saterfield's red-hot shooting, went on a 16-4 run to take a 10 point lead in the second half at the 7:25 mark.
4. Boum seals the game with an off-balance floater
UTSA started to mount a late-game comeback thanks to 38 points in the paint that they finished with. However, the Miners were able to hang on due to missed free throws by the Roadrunners and a clutch late-game bucket by Souley Boum.
Prior to the shot, it was just a three-point game and UTSA could've had a chance to send this one to overtime had they stopped Boum on this possession. Instead, the Miners captured the home win, 69-64.
5. No upcoming game is a given for UTEP
Going into this four-game stretch, the Miners were set to play three teams (UTSA, Florida Atlantic and Florida International) that had a combined 2-11 C-USA record going into this week.
Yet, the Miners can't take any of these games for granted as they started off Thursday. UTSA came into the game with only eight active players, six whom were scholarship student-athletes. The Miners struggled mightily in the first half, possibly due to the fact they overlooked this depleted bunch.
With a first year coach and a first year team, nothing can be taken for granted.
Florida Atlantic pulled off a significant win against Western Kentucky on Thursday, 78-69, while Florida International just beat Marshall, 70-66, for their first C-USA win of the year. The advantage for UTEP is they have both of these Florida teams at home next week.
But first, the Miners will have to face UTSA once more on the road in San Antonio. UTEP hasn't won in San Antonio since 2015. Tip-off for this matchup is set for 2 p.m. MT on Sunday, Jan. 23.