UTEP 69 – UTSA 51: Three Moments That Swayed the Game for UTEP
In a must-win situation, the UTEP men's basketball team answered the call by using a mighty second half performance to top UTSA 69-51, thus splitting the series with the Roadrunners.
When they led 52-47, the Miners went on a 16-2 run in the second half at the 7:56 point to close out the game with the victory. Going into this game, the Miners had lost five of their last six games. Now, the Miners got some much-needed confidence with the win.
Souley Boum led all scorers with 20 points, while Jamal Bieniemy scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Here are three moments that changed the course of Saturday's game:
1. Saucey's rebound, put-back
The Miners saw a pretty back-and-forth opening half. First, the Roadrunners held a lead for the opening five minutes of the game. But the Miners rebounded in a significant way, taking the lead and never relinquishing it in the first half, despite three of their forwards—Bryson Williams, Kristian Sjolund and Tydus Verhoeven—combining for six fouls.
Christian Agnew was a force in the opening half, as the junior guard was tasked with guarding UTSA standout guard Jhivvan Jackson, who went 2-for-7 for four points in the first half. Jackson followed up his 32 points performance on Thursday with only seven on Saturday, and also fouled out. Agnew's hustle and intensity attributes are contagious. At the 8:36 mark, he ripped down a missed 3-pointer by Williams and put it back for a second-chance bucket.
He was a huge reason behind UTEP's 32-29 lead at the half, along with Jamal Bieniemy's nine points and Souley Boum's eight.
Bryson Williams' save & 3-pointer
Following an abysmal first half, in which he racked up two fouls and two turnovers, Williams had a few key buckets late in the second half to help put the game away. Around the 8-minute mark, Williams tossed a loose ball out to Verhoeven, saving the play. Verhoeven dished it right back to Williams for a corner 3-pointer. On the following possession, Williams hit a hook shot to make it 56-47 UTEP, with 7:15 left in the game.
Williams had all of his seven points in the second half and helped put together a mistake-free final 20 minutes.
UTEP shot 45% from the floor (25-of-56), compared to UTSA's poor 30% shooting night (18-for-61). The knock against the Miners tonight was all their turnovers. They totaled 17 giveaways on Saturday, including four from Williams.
Kennedy converts an and-1 and gets a back-to-back double-doubles
For the second straight game, sophomore Keonte Kennedy put up a double-double for the Miners. Last game, it was 12 points, 13 rebounds. He found similar success against the Roadrunners on Saturday—10 points, 14 rebounds.
Amid a 16-2 run that lasted nearly six minutes for the Miners to help seal the win, Kennedy put an and-1 play together over UTSA's Eric Parrish. This propelled him to his 10th point of the contest and gave him another double-double. Kennedy's two consecutive double-doubles become the first time a Miner has done so since Efe Odigie did it for UTEP in 2019.
With the help of Kennedy, the Miners out-rebounded UTSA 45-27.
Up next: UTEP (8-8, 4-6 C-USA) will travel to face the top-ranked team in the C-USA West Divison in UAB next Friday and Saturday.