UTEP Fans Should Relish Souley Boum vs. Rodney Terry Sweet 16 Matchup
After the gauntlet that was the first two rounds of the first weekend in the NCAA Tournament, the Sweet 16 looms this weekend. For Miner fans, there are a pair of familiar names locking up on Friday in hopes of reaching the Elite Eight.
600 ESPN El Paso will have the coverage of all NCAA Tournament games, courtesy of West Wood One. You can catch all the games on-air or online via our stream.
Texas (2-seed) interim head coach Rodney Terry, who spent three seasons as the Miners' head coach, will face his former star guard at UTEP in Souley Boum and the Xavier Musketeers (3-seed) on Friday evening in Kansas City.
Things can't get juicer of a matchup than this, right?
How the UTEP journey started
Coach Terry initially recruited Boum from the University of San Fransisco, where Boum earned West Coast Conference freshman honors for averaging 10.9 points per game. After sitting out the 2018-19 season due to—at the time—NCAA transfer rules, Boum exploded onto the scene in the 2019-20 season.
Boum was initially thought to be a sixth man on the 2019-20 team but he morphed into a routine starter at the shooting guard position. Alongside standout forward Bryson Williams, Boum was able to average 12.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
During the pandemic-stricken season in 2020-21, Boum managed to average 18.8 points per game as a focal point of the team's offense. Under Terry, Boum shot 37% FG and 34% from 3-point range.
Over the next two seasons, both would take far different directions.
Terry resigned from his post with UTEP to become the associate head coach at Texas under Chris Beard. Boum decided to stick with newly hired head coach Joe Golding for the 2021-22 season, finishing the year leading C-USA with 19.8 points per game. Then, Boum elected to transfer to Xavier under head coach Sean Miller for his graduate year. Needless to say, the Oakland, Ca. native has made the most of his time with the nationally ranked Musketeers this season, having garnered All Big East Honors (16.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game).
Despite struggling in the opening round against 14th-seeded Kennesaw St. (72-67), Xavier mounted an 11-point win against 11th-seed Pitt on Sunday to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16.
Does the Sweet 16 appearance stamp Rodney Terry as the next Longhorns full-time basketball coach?
Just like Boum, coach Terry is making the most of his opportunities as the interim coach for Texas. Since Chris Beard was fired from an arrest involving domestic violence, Terry is 21-7 overall since taking over as the interim head coach, which included knocking off Kansas to win the Big 12 Tournament Championship.
But more than just the success and hanging banners, Terry and his staff have gotten the most out of the players that they initially recruited. Forward Dylan Disu is playing like a modern-day LaMarcus Aldridge. Senior guards Timmy Allen and Marcus Carr are among the best in the country—oh, and their backup guard Jabari Rice (NM State transfer who also played against Boum) can shoot lights out off the bench. Not to mention, Terry has lauded big recruits for the future of Texas, including All-American and NBA hopeful Ron Holland.
Sure, Terry wasn't as successful at the mid-major level as some would like. He made one NCAA Tournament appearance as a head coach in 10 years prior to Texas. Most recently, he posted a subpar winning percentage at UTEP, going 37-48 (.435) over three seasons.
But at the same time, Terry was a part of the coaching staff under Rick Barnes that saw the last Texas team (2007-08) reach the Elite Eight with players like D.J. Augustin, Damion James and A.J. Abrams. He was also part of the coaching staff that went to the Elite Eight in 2005-06 with the likes of Kevin Durant. So he knows what success at the highest levels feels like at Texas.
From an outsider, it seems like Chris Beard injected life into the Texas fanbase upon his initial hire. What transpired as a result of his firing could've torn the excitement down immediately.
Instead, Terry maintained joy and pride for Texas basketball. He kept the ship afloat amid an off-the-court incident that could've turned disastrous. For doing something that hasn't been done in over 15 years, regardless of talent, is worthy of Terry's full-time hiring at Texas.
More local ties with the NCAA Tournament
Northwestern and former Miner Tydus Verhoeven fell in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to UCLA, 68-63. Verhoeven contributed with three rebounds and an assist in the team's opening round win against Boise State, 75-67.
Memphis lost this weekend to C-USA's own Florida Atlantic, 66-65, in the first round of the tournament. While FAU is still alive and set to play fourth-seed Tennessee, the Tigers were left with a first-round exit. Former Miner Keonte Kennedy spent the season with Memphis, but didn't play in the NCAA Tournament due to a hand injury.
Finally, UConn and Burges High School alum Tristen Newton have advanced to the Sweet 16 after a hard-fought win against Saint Mary's, 70-55. While the matchup was close in the first half, the Huskies pulled away in the second half and will play Arkansas (8th-seed) on Thursday. Newton scored 13 points and totaled five assists in the win over Saint Mary's.
For a full list of former Miners playing in March, check on my story from last week: Where Are They Now: 18 Former Miners Hooping at the Division I Level.
Pitt Comes Back Against UCLA to Win 2022 Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl