UTEP Bounces Back in Win Over Former WAC Foe Wyoming, 76-65
Everything that could go wrong went wrong for the Miners in the opening round against Norfolk State, where they lost 75-62 and shot an abysmal 26 percent from the floor.
But in the consolation game of the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational on Saturday evening, the Miners (5-6) stormed through former WAC foe Wyoming, 76-65, and shot 47 percent from the floor, drastically improving their performance from Friday.
UTEP was led by Evan Gilyard's six three-pointers, 20 points and four assists. Freshman forward Efe Odigie put up his fifth career double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds). He is also the first UTEP basketball freshman to score in double figures through 11 straight games.
Five Miners, including Gilyard and Odigie, scored in double figures—Nigel Hawkins (13), Jordan Lathon (10) and Paul Thomas (10).
In the first half, the Miners put aside their shooting woes from the Norfolk State game and shot 50 percent (14-of-28) from the floor. They finished the half with a 35-27 lead, including 18 points in the paint.
Odigie led the Miners in the first half with eight points and six rebounds, followed by Gilyard and forward Ountae Campbell who each finished the half with six points.
They caused nine turnovers defensively, to which they scored 11 points off turnovers, and held the Cowboys to shooting 33 percent (7-of-21) from the floor.
In the second half, the Miners controlled an admirable lead and stretched it as much as 18 points. Gilyard lit up the second half with four 3-pointers and finished the second period with 14 points.
Wyoming's Justin James led the Cowboys with 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists, followed by A.J. Banks, who had 18 points and eight boards.
UTEP finished with a +3 turnover margin and scored 18 points in total off turnovers.
Next up, the Miners will have a near two-week break where they will rest up for C-USA play, which commences on Jan. 3 against UTSA.