The Miners rode a red-hot Souley Boum (26 points) and a stealthy Bryson Williams (21 points) en route to a 72-54 win over North Carolina A&T in the first round of the WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational Monday night.

Boum tied his collegiate-high with five 3-pointers and the 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting, while Williams snagged his second double-double on the season, totaling 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 10 boards in 29 minutes.

UTEP is now 7-0 at home, which is their best start since the 2003-04 season. They also hit their season-best 13 3-pointers on 48.1 percent shooting from beyond the arch.

“I thought our guys came out tonight and really executed against a combination of defenses,” second-year UTEP head coach Rodney Terry said. “We knew we would see some 1-3-1 and I thought our guys did a nice job seeing the 1-3-1 in a game situation. We did a great job of handling that in the first half. We saw a 2-3 zone in our previous game, which was good for us for 40 minutes. I thought tonight we were much better against the 2-3 zone. We got great looks all night long, whether we were attacking in the middle of the zone, or whether we were getting it into the interior.”

UC Irvine handled Kent State 74-68 in the first game, which will pin the Anteaters against the Miners in the championship game on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

UTEP is vying for their first Sun Bowl Invitational championship since the 2014 season.

 

“It’s a program I’m very familiar with,” Terry said. “Russ (Turner) is a great coach and he’s built a solid program. We’re trying the build a program here, and he’s built one there that has a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament every year. We’re going to play to play some good senior guards and have played in postseason play. Their interior players are really good as well and they put a lot pressure on the basket. He’s always had really big teams and they execute well. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”