Miners Shake Off First Half Woes to Defeat Southern Miss, 76-64
In the midst of a transfer carousel and with head coach Rodney Terry returning to the bench following his hospitalization from an allergic reaction in Miami last week, the Miners were in desperate search of some stability.
Through 40 minutes of up-and-down basketball, UTEP (10-6, 1-2 C-USA) was able to break away through the final five minutes to defeat Southern Miss (76-64) and win their first game in C-USA. UTEP is now 9-0 at home for the first time since 1988-89.
This is one step forward in finding stability for the group, while there are still some kinks to work out.
Souley Boum led the way for the Miners with a career-high 26 points, while Bryson Williams scored 20 points and propelled the Miners on a solo 7-0 run at the 3:56 mark to put the game away.
As a team, the Miners were an exceptional 34-of-37 from the charity stripe, including a perfect outing from both Boum (14-of-14) and Williams (10-of-10) at the line.
“We knew it was going to be a competitive game tonight, both teams were desperate for a win in conference play,” Terry said. “We knew we’d get a team in Southern Miss that’s well coached and that was going to come in here with guys who can score the basketball. We were going to have to do a great job defending and we did that in the second half. We knew we’d have to grind it out and continue to build the team moving forward.”
In the first half, the Miners struggled setting up their offense in halfcourt sets. They shot an underwhelming 38 percent from the floor (8-of-21) and an abysmal 10 percent from 3-point land (1-of-10). UTEP led 30-28 at the break, as the Golden Eagles hit four 3-pointers in the first half and hung in with the Miners.
UTEP locked down defensively in the second half, holding Southern Miss to shooting 33 percent from the floor and 29 percent from beyond the arch. They used a late-game scoring spurt from Williams and Boum to anchor the victory.
Kaden Archie scored nine points, grabbed three boards and had an assist and a steal in his second start for the Miners. Eric Vila, Nigel Hawkins and Daryl Edwards scored six points for UTEP, while Vila led the team with 11 boards.
Efe Odigie, who registered his first start of the season, and Jordan Lathon were the only two Miners held scoreless in this game. This also marked the first game back on the hardwood for Lathon.
The Miners will now be tasked with hosting LA Tech on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m.
Check out the photo gallery by Gaby Velasquez: