UAB 63 – UTEP 51: Blazers Storm Through Miners in Series Opener
In what was largely a defensive battle, UAB held onto a lead for the entire game and downed UTEP on Friday night, 63-51. The Miners have now lost four consecutive road games and they are currently 2-7 away from the Haskins Center.
The Blazers dominated their road foes inside the paint, winning the rebounding margin 43-32 while scoring 42 points in the paint. UTEP continued to fall in their shooting woes, hitting just 34% from the floor (15% 3-point FG). UAB has now won six straight home games and boasts a 12-1 record at Bartow Arena.
Senior forward Bryson Williams (19 points, eight rebounds) and junior guard Souley Boum (22 points) combined for all but 10 of UTEP's total points scored. No other Miner scored more than five points.
Tydus Verhoeven (0-for-1 FG), Keonte Kennedy (4 points, 2-for-5), Kristian Sjolund (5 points, 2-for-6), Christian Agnew (0-of-5) and Jamal Bieniemy (1 point, 0-for-9) all combined for 10 points. Junior Efe Odigie was out for the third consecutive weekend as he continues to deal with concussion protocol.
"I think it's what you expect when you see two good defensive teams. We were right where we needed to be at the half," said head coach Rodney Terry. "We didn't play great offensively in the first half. We were still in. We had some really good looks in the first half and the second half."
UTEP's struggles began early and remained throughout the matchup. They totaled two turnovers to start the contest, and the Blazers got off to a 8-2 early lead (13:51). Boum started the scoring for the Miners with all six of the team's early buckets, as UAB led 14-6.
Just three players—Boum, Williams and Sjolund—scored in the first 15 minutes of the game. They sparked a bit of a comeback thanks to Boum's 15 first half points, cutting the UAB lead to four points (32-28) at the half.
The Blazers got off to a 6-0 run to start the second half and led 38-28 at the 17:36 mark. UTEP pulled within six points (49-43) around the eight-minute point, but went absolutely cold in the scoring column. They couldn't hit a field goal for the next seven minutes and UAB never looked back, outscoring UTEP 14-8 over the last stretch.
The Miners (8-9, 4-7 C-USA) will turn around in less than 24 hours to face UAB (15-2, 8-1 C-USA) on Saturday at 3 p.m.