Photo by Duke Keith
Photo by Duke Keith

The UTEP Miners squandered an 18 point lead, but held on to win their second consecutive game by defeating Idaho 64-60.  The Miners were fortunate to get the win, considering that they were held to just two field goals over the final 12:15 of the game.

UTEP won this game because of two primary reasons.  Their defensive play was stellar as they held Idaho's primary scorers Kyle Barone and Stephen Madison to 14 points.  Both players combined to score 49 points in their previous game at Eastern Washington.  UTEP's free throw shooting was also a key to their victory.

They finished 14-18 from the line, and Julian Washburn made two crucial free throws with 9.2 seconds remaining to give UTEP the 64-60 lead.  For the Miners, it was their second straight game that they were able to finish strong from the charity stripe.

UTEP was also successful from the field, shooting 52.3 percent.  With the win, the Miners improved to 3-0 at home this season.  The team will now have 8 days off to take finals.  Their brutally challenging non conference schedule will resume when they host UNLV on the 17th, and Oregon on the 19th.

Following the game I asked Coach Floyd what his thoughts were about the Miners ability to finish strong in their last two games, he mentioned,

There is no doubt that this team has some real talent, and their last two wins have come against quality opponents in NMSU and Idaho.  The team will continue to be tested as they finish off the year facing fierce competition.  Once conference play begins in January, the Miners will be ready to put up quite a fight.  After all, playing great teams not only makes your team more resilient, but also builds confidence, especially if you can beat some of these Titans.