UTSA 75, UTEP 60: UTSA Races Off With 4th Straight Win Over UTEP
Getting downed by 15 points to kick-start the new year is not the way UTEP (5-7) wanted to begin their C-USA slate.
And with a slow start, players getting foul trouble early on, hitting 18 turnovers and shooting just 11.8 percent from 3-point range, their 75-60 loss to UTSA seemed unavoidable on Thursday night.
The Roadrunners have now won four straight against the Miners.
The speck of a bright spot was freshman forward Efe Odigie shrugging off a sluggish start and finishing the game with 19 points, 15 rebounds and his sixth career double-double.
Freshman guard Nigel Hawkins scored his career high's in points and rebounds with 21 and nine, respectively, while sophomore guard Evan Gilyard finished with 14 points as well.
Freshman guard Jordan Lathon did not play due to a hamstring injury he suffered in practice. UTEP played with just a seven man rotation throughout the game.
UTSA had four of their five starters reach double figures in Thursday's contest, including a 23 point performance from guard Keaton Wallace. The Roadrunners also finished with 38 points in the paint, 28 points off turnovers and 16 points off the bench.
“I always tell the guys, whether we get off to a good start or bad start, you got to work the game because you really have to come out and set the tone defensively, and we didn’t do a very good job of that tonight to start the ball game,” first-year head coach Rodney Terry said. “You can’t let a scoring team that really wants to shoot the basketball come out and get comfortable and let them do the things they want to do. They had us on our heals all night and we couldn’t get meaningful stops like we needed to.”
The Miners fell off early on in this one, as UTSA stormed through with a 13-0 run to start the game. UTEP struggled at the beginning against the UTSA zone on offense, starting off the game going 0-for-5 shooting.
With a 15-1 lead early on, UTSA let go of the gas a bit in the game, as the Miners tacked on some early points from guard Kobe Magee and Gilyard.
They cut to lead to six after a 3-pointer by Gilyard in the first half (17-11), but UTSA stretched the lead toward the end and led 33-24 at the break.
In the blink of an eye, the Roadrunners raced off at the start of the second half with a swift 8-0 run, which put the nail in the coffin for the Miners. UTSA's 44 percent shooting from the floor in the second half was enough to seal the game, while the Miners would only get within 13 points in the second half.
Starters Paul Thomas and Ountae Campbell were ineffective on the scoring side for the Miners, finishing with a combined 0-for-9 shooting. Thomas would eventually foul out, while Gilyard (4), Hawkins (4), Odigie (3) and Campbell (3) all were caught early in foul trouble.
Free throws, which have plagued the Miners all season long, were actually another bright point for UTEP on Thursday. They hit a season-high 82.8 percent (24-of-29) at the charity stripe.
Aside to his sixth double-double, Odigie has now scored in double digits in all 12 of the Miners games.
Next up, the Miners will go on a quick turnaround and will take on UTSA again on Saturday, Jan. 5, at the Don Haskins Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.