What a difference a day makes. After losing to Georgia Tech in the opening round of the Legends Classic, the Miners righted the ship against the Michigan Wolverines to win the consolation game. The first half was a well fought battle. After leading for much of the first twenty minutes, the Wolverines rallied late to tie things up going into the half.
The second half opened with something that we hadn't seen from the Miners this year. They came out on fire with a 13-0 run, holding the Wolverines scoreless for nearly the first 6 minutes of the second half. The Miners torched the nets shooting 61% from the field in the final twenty, while holding Michigan to an ice cold 25%. The suffocating defense that had apparently taken the night off vs. Georgia Tech was back in full effect on Saturday. The Blue and Maize were held without a fg in the second half until nearly 8 minutes to go in the game. By that time the Miners had sprinted to a 15 point lead, and never let up winning the game by a final of 65-56.
The Miners were led by reigning C-USA player of the year, and former 6th man of the year Randy Culpepper who shot 10-16 from the field for a game high 24 points to go along with 3 boards, 3 steals, and an assist. For whatever reasons Coach Tim Floyd decided to bring Culpepper off the bench and it definitely worked out well. John Bohannon had his best game thus far with 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Julyan Stone was right on par with 10 points and 5 boards, while Jeremy Williams neared a double double with 8 points and 10 rebounds. Also noteworthy was Wayne Portelatin who had 5 points and 4 boards in only 12 minutes of action. Michigan was led by Darius Morris who was 8-11 from the field for 20 points. Unfortunately for Morris, his teammates were only 8-42 from the field.
Today was a good win for the Miners, but they need to learn how to play with more consistency. We've seen that they can play some great defense and are finding their groove offensively, but they can't take nights off. We've seen it a couple times this year and both games ended in losses. The fact is that we aren't as deep as we were last year, and we can't afford to play like we did yesterday come conference time. If we can make our efforts consistent we can definitely compete for the conference title and a spot in the NCAA tournament.
Up next for the Miners is the sequel to the battle of I-10 on Tuesday at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces. The Miners used the Thanksgiving break wisely playing some good competition to keep the wheels rolling on the season, while the Aggies have been idle since the first game against UTEP. The game will be at 7:00 p.m. and tickets are still available.