Odigie and Williams Help Lead Miners Past Blue Raiders, 67-66
Welcome back, Efe Odigie.
The sophomore forward had his season-best 15 points (6-of-12 FG) off the bench and 10 boards, along with another exceptional performance by Bryson Williams, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds in UTEP's 67-66 slim win against Middle Tennesee.
In front of 4,471 fans at the Haskins Center Thursday night, the Miners (13-9, 4-5 C-USA) forced 15 turnovers on defense and scored 34 points in the paint en route to their third straight home win.
But by no means was it a pretty one.
The Blue Raiders initiated a 14-2 run in the first half that put the Miners in a 22-9 rut. After Odigie subbed in off the bench, the team went on a 15-0 run over a six-minute span. During that stretch, Odigie tallied five points, four rebounds in just four minutes of action. The game was tied at the half, 34-34.
Through a back-and-forth second half and 11 lead changes, the Miners held a firm 65-61 lead through the final stretch. However, Middle Tennessee was able to hit a couple late-game shots to cut it to a one-score lead. With just two seconds left, UTEP inbounded the ball and ran out the clock.
Four Blue Raiders scored 10 or more points—Jo'Vontae Millner (19), Antonio Green (12), CJ Jones (10) and Tyson Jackson (10). They also edged out UTEP slightly in the rebound margin, 37-35.
Though, UTEP clamped down defensively in the second half and held Middle Tennessee to shooting 42 percent from the floor and 22 percent from 3-point range. The Blue Raiders finished the game with an underwhelming 12-of-21 outing at the free throw line.
Freshman Deon Stroud started in his first college game Thursday, where he finished as the team's third-leading scorer with seven points in eight minutes. Daryl Edwards hit a pair of 3-pointers and finished with six points.
UTEP will face UAB on Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Haskins Center, tipping off at 7 p.m.