The game came down to the wire, but UTEP was able to hold on to defeat Western Illinois 67-64 in front of 6,132 fans in their opening game of the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.

Despite shooting under 35 percent from the field and allowing Western Illinois to build a 10 point second half lead, UTEP was able to win their fourth straight thanks to a 17-4 run in the final five minutes of the contest.  The Miners were able to out rebound Western Illinois by a 39-30 margin and made 29 of 39 foul shots.

Key contributors for UTEP were Julian Washburn who scored a game high 18 points, while John Bohannon had 15, and Vince Hunter added 14 points.  Bohannon registered a double-double with 12 rebounds as well.  The Miners will now face Denver on Sunday at 7 p.m.  The Pioneers defeated Alcorn State 67-49 to open the tournament and won 22 games last season.

Despite the victory there are still some major issues going on behind closed doors for the Miners as both leading scorer McKenzie Moore and Jalen Ragland where benched for this game and Coach Floyd mentioned they are suspended indefinatley for violating team rules.  Following the game he had this to say,

When asked about his thoughts on playing Denver next Coach Floyd mentioned,

It would be nice to see UTEP end the year on a five game winning streak, especially since conference play is right around the corner.  The loss of Moore and Ragland are rather significant at this point, but all the team can do now is move on and try to continue their recent success.