Miner Mailbag: UTEP Basketball Must Regroup Ahead of Tough Road Stretch
The UTEP men's basketball team experienced a lapse in their season on Sunday when they fell to the worst team in the C-USA East division.
Marshall (9-16, 2-10 C-USA) had lost 13 of their last 14 games going into the game, but the Thundering Herd looked like the better team for the majority of the contest and beat the Miners handily at the Haskins Center, 88-79. It was the first time this season that UTEP (14-10, 7-5 C-USA) allowed an opponent to score more than 80 points in a game.
"This game's on me," UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. "We did not have our team ready to play. I take complete ownership of that. Give credit to Marshall. We’ve been through a lot, and they continue to grind. They’re playing hard. Tonight it just wasn’t our night, and it wasn’t on them (the team), it’s on me."
UTEP held onto a lead for the majority of the first half before Marshall swept in and stole a one-point halftime lead, 39-38. In the second half, the Thundering Herd built several leads and, despite multiple efforts, UTEP was never able to make it closer than a five-point game.
Souley Boum (32 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) and Jamal Bieniemy (23 points, 4 steals) combined to score 55 of the Miners' 79 points. They had no one else giving them a scoring boost besides Jamari Sibley's 7 points (10 rebounds).
On the other end, Marshall shot an exceptional 56% from the floor and 50% from 3-point range—all while C-USA's second-leading scorer Taevion Kinsey only put up 7 points. It was five other Marshall players scoring in double figures that led to the win.
"They beat UAB, that's a good team," Boum said. "Their record doesn't signify how good of a team they are. We didn't play hard enough on defense."
Let's answer some questions and comment on reactions from over the weekend
"@DanielSilver679: Felt more like a 15-20 point loss"
On paper, it's UTEP's worst loss of the year. Every team they've lost to this year—with the exception of Charlotte (205) and UC Riverside (184)—is a top-100 ranked team by KenPom. The Thundering Herd came into this game ranked 235 by KenPom. UTEP was 168 before the loss.
When you consider how much Marshall was struggling before this one, and how well the Miners were playing, this did feel like a 15-20 point loss. I'll defer to Golding after the game, who considers C-USA a tough league and says his team will be ready to fight back after two losses in a row.
"Every game is [tough]. This is Conference USA. There are good players, good coaches, good teams and you have to be ready to play," Golding said. "We have some fighters in that locker room. We have some guys that want to compete. We have to have some good practices. It's not going to be easy on this trip. We have to keep our circle tight and we'll be challenged on that too."
The Miners will hit the road this week for a three-game road stretch that features LA Tech (Thursday), Southern Miss (Saturday) and Middle Tennessee (Monday).
UTEP fans get disappointed easily. They've been hurt time and time again. Fans still believe this team has inconsistencies that haunt them.
I take a similar approach to the comment that Pinky wrote on Twitter—"First year. Give him a year."
When the season started, I predicted 17-13 for year one of Joe Golding. I think that was being a little ambitious and optimistic, but the prediction also had to do with my trust in the talent and the staff. This staff has proven that they can develop players and maximize their use. They have competed against the best in the conference. Now, they have to find the middle ground and reach the level of consistency that they want. I think it will come, but not in year one.
Maybe when it's all said and done, this loss to Marshall is an anomaly of this year. However, if I were the Miners, I would NOT want to face Marshall in the C-USA Tournament.
"It's a hurt locker room," Golding said after the game. "It should hurt. We should have good practices this week if we're building what I think we're building here. This team's been through a bunch. This team stuck together. They continued to grind. Today just wasn't their day and that's on me."
@MCuvielloNews: "Why hasn't Satterfield been placed on a milk carton? Starting w/ UNM game he averaged 9 shots & 11 ppg while shooting 50% from field. Last 5 games 2 of 13 shooting averaging less than 2 pts ppg. Also, why is he so bad at getting to the ft line. 3rd in minutes 10th in FT attempts."
This has become an issue for the starting sharpshooter.
Jorell Saterfield has cooled off considerably since he started the first 18 games shooting nearly 50% from 3-point range. He was 40-of-81 from downtown through the first 18 games.
Through the last five games, opponents have adjusted to Saterfield and have held him to just 2-of-13 in field goal attempts. He has just 8 points and 2 free throw attempts during the last five games. Against Marshall, he was 1-of-5 and a -10 in plus/minus. The Ranger College transfer was called to be a plug-and-play guard when Keonte Kennedy went out with an injury.
Now, to the point on the free throw attempts, I think that's who Saterfield is (or isn't) on the court. He's asked to be an off-ball, catch-and-shoot guard for this team. He's not asked to be a shot creator. I'm not sure how Saterfield would be as a slasher, but we simply haven't seen it.
Since teams have adjusted to Saterfield and know how to stop him, it's up to the sharpshooter to transform his game and help the Miners as best as possible in other areas.
@ChrisBanks21: "Not just the men’s team but what’s happened to the women’s team? They can’t seem to put it together anymore"
Good point. We've talked enough about the men's team. Let's do a check-in for the women's squad.
The UTEP women's basketball team is undergoing a four-game losing streak following their road loss to Marshall, 60-49. The Miners simply aren't the best road team this year. Some of it isn't their fault. They have lost six of their last seven road games, with the only win coming against UTSA. Not to mention, head coach Kevin Baker has detailed some horrible travel issues that the team has dealt with this year on his weekly radio show.
They have also had trouble keeping a consistent lineup together. Teal Battle missed three games with an injury. Katia Gallegos, playing through injuries, isn't at 100% this year. Scoring has also been an issue for this group.
I'm not sure what the solution is for the bunch. They have a home game this week against LA Tech. Winning solves a lot and for the road-tested Miners, coming to the Haskins Center could be exactly what they need.
@SadUtEpFaN91: "This is why no body shows up to games When it matter for football and basketball they choke. Marshall was 1-10 in conference and they couldn't even be ready for this...."
I think a lot of Miner fans feel this way.
Good thing there were only 4,129 people in attendance that witnessed the loss to Marshall.