UTEP 60 – MTSU 56: Miners Squeeze Past Blue Raiders for Third Straight Win
The UTEP men’s basketball team punched their ticket to the Conference USA Tournament, as they squeezed past Middle Tennessee, 60-56, on Wednesday night.
The Miners (16-14, 7-10 C-USA) have reeled off three straight wins and have the best streak in the league with one more matchup left in Bonus Play against Rice on Saturday.
And the win came off another phenomenal performance by Daryl Edwards. The grad transfer led UTEP with 25 points and is averaging 28.3 points through his last three games. He continues to lift the Miners on both ends through this final stretch of the season and his 71 made 3-pointers make him the sixth Miner ever to make 70-or-better in a single season.
While Souley Boum chipped in 13 points of his own, it was an uncharacteristic game for Bryson Williams on Wednesday. The redshirt junior had an unusual 3-for-15 shooting performance on Wednesday, where he ended with nine points, eight boards and three steals in 31 minutes of action.
However, Williams had the go-ahead free throws with 27 seconds left in the game. It was a reflection on how everyone on this UTEP squad seemed to contribute to the win.
Boum made a pair of free throws to ice the game with nine seconds left. Forward Tydus Verhoeven made a potential game-saving block down the stretch. Even guard Kaden Archie contributed defensively after starting with a trio of turnovers early into the game.
This team has folded many times on the road in the final parts of their previous games. Granted, the competition was against the worst team in the conference, but the Miners edging out the Blue Raiders felt like a spirited win for the group.
It's their third game where they shot over 40 percent from 3-point range. They also dominated MTSU on the boards, 37-29, and held them to shooting just 37.7 percent from the floor.
Even though the Blue Raiders are among the conference's worst, they hung in throughout the game with the Miners. UTEP's largest lead was only by eight points in the first half but MTSU finished the half on a 6-0 run to narrow the gap. From then on, it was back-and-forth until the finish.
The three-game win streak is the first time UTEP's done so since 2016-17. And their 16-wins are the most for the program since the 2015-16 season.
UTEP faces Rice on Saturday, March 7, with the tipoff set for noon.