UTEP 100 – UTPB 81: Batch of Miner Newcomers Dazzle in Opening Win
The Miners had six players score in double figures, as UTEP cruised to a season-opening 100-81 victory over UTPB in an empty Don Haskins Center on Wednesday night.
Junior guard Souley Boum scored a team-best 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting and totaled four assists and two steals. Other top scorers included sophomore Keonte Kennedy (16 points, 10 rebounds), senior Bryson Williams (14 points), Jamal Bienemy (12 points, 9 assists), sophomore Kristian Sjolund (12 points) and sophomore Adam Hess (11 points, 3-of-3 shooting).
"I think our guys were excited about playing," Rodney Terry said following the game. "The one thing I keep telling everyone is that we need to learn to continue to get better every night. We did some really good things. Without an exhibition, this is our trial run. We did a good job of taking care of the basketball. We moved the ball pretty good. We need to get better defensively."
UTEP got off to an early lead and never looked back. They first got off to a 6-0 run which built up to an 11-4 lead over the Falcons.
Their starters—Bienemy, Boum, Williams, Kennedy and Tydus Verhoeven—set the tone nicely and weren't asked to do too much in the opening half besides Boum, who led the team with 15 points at the break.
The real treat was getting to experience the newcomers for the first time. Bienemy paced the game nicely at the point guard spot. Georgia Tech transfer forward Kristian Sjolund flashed his 3-point shot, going 2-of-3 from beyond the arc and finishing the opening half with eight points. Adam Hess also impressed with his perimeter shot, scoring a pair of 3-pointers and totaling eight points in eight minutes off the bench in the first.
The shooting was drastically better than it's looked in a long time during the first half. The team shot 63 percent from the floor and made 50 percent from 3-point range.
Though the team came out of the second half a bit sluggish, the Miners held firm control for the last 20 minutes. Both teams entered scoring droughts to start the half. The Miners took a dip in shooting in the second period too (41.7 percent FG/23% 3 point FG).
Other newcomers that had their Miner debut include freshman point guard Vuk Vulikic (2 points) and freshman forward Ze'Rik Onyema (2 points).
Next up: The Miners will be traveling to Tucson, Ariz. to face the Arizona Wildcats on Sunday, Nov. 29. The Pac 12 affiliate will be facing Grambling State on Friday, Nov. 27 before they host the Miners.