Five Takeaways From UTEP’s Loss to Hawaii
If you stayed up late last night to watch UTEP lose to Hawaii in the quarterfinals of the Diamond Head Classic, you went to bed upset, distraught, and generally disappointed. The Miners have lost three games this season, and they easily could have won all of them. If you have watched most or all 11 games this season, it is easy to point out that UTEP has not come close to playing their best basketball of the 2019-20 season.
If you are a night owl, tonight's 11:30 pm tip off against Ball State in the consolation bracket of the Diamond Head Classic is perfect for you. Jon Teicher will call the action on 600 ESPN El Paso. To help get you ready for the Miners and the Cardinals, let's look back at the highs and lows from the Hawaii game.
1. Bryson Williams is an elite college basketball player. Simply put, the redshirt junior is a stud and he looks NBA ready now. Last night, Williams' full offensive repertiore was on diplay against the Rainbow Warriors. A 33-point effort should have been enough for a UTEP win, but this team still has plenty of issues to solve.
2. UTEP's interior defense is a big weakness. Last night, Hawaii made a living down in the block, dominating Eric Vila and Tydus Verhoeven for most of the game. The Rainbow Warriors scored 40 of their 67 points in the paint while outrebounding the Miners 34-30. UTEP has plenty of size but they are not playing anywhere up to their potential.
3. UTEP used up all of their time outs too early. Jordan Lathon was forced to call the Miners' final timeout with over two minutes left in the game. Williams scored the team's last seven points of the game, but UTEP's offense seemed unorganized when their best player did not have the basketball in his hands. The Miners could have used at least one timeout over those final possessions to try and pull out the win.
4. Lathon is really struggling. The sophomore point guard only took one shot in 27 minutes, but it was his ball handling that killed the Miners against Hawaii. Lathon had five turnovers including a few costly down the stretch. Lathon's conversion into a point guard is still a work in progress, and opponents are sure to pressure him more and more during the season. Coach Terry could always move Boum to the point and give more minutes to either Nigel Hawkins or Kaden Archie if Lathon's struggles continue.
5. Where is Efe Odigie? The sophomore big man only played five minutes against Hawaii and he had a basket, a pair of rebounds, and two fouls. Odigie struggled on defense in his limited minutes, but sso did every other UTEP post player. Unlike Verhoeven and Vila, Odigie actually has upside offensively so it will be interesting to see if he can get more playing time in the next few games of the Diamond Head Classic before the start of C-USA play.