The #21 UTEP Miners rolled past the Tulsa Hurricane in front of a hometown crowd to advance to their first ever Conference USA Tournament Championship Game and extend their school record winning streak to sixteen games. The Miners will play the winner of this afternoon's Houston and Southern Miss game tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. MST.
Quick Thoughts on the Game:
Quiet Storm: In their two prior meetings, UTEP's defense held Tulsa to under 40% shooting from the field. Tulsa shot exactly 40% from the field today. The Miners shot 51.9%. There only real struggles from the field came from the three point line (3/15), but it didn't matter. Tulsa's senior stars, Ben Uzoh and Jerome Jordan, were both stuffed offensively. Uzoh finished with 9 points and Jordan had 11.
Leave No Doubt: UTEP dominated this game from start to finish. Tulsa got it to within 8 with 2:14 to go, but Claude Britten and Christian Polk got huge rebounds and added key buckets down the stretch to seal the deal.
Great Britten: Derrick Caracter was once again plagued by foul trouble that limited his minutes (only 23 today). Claude Britten showed us the depth of UTEP's front-court. Britten had 8 points and six rebounds, most of which came in the game final minutes to help UTEP close the door on Tulsa.
M-V-P! M-V-P! Randy Culpepper led the Miners with 21 points. Give credit to Christian Polk who gave the Miners 25 hard minutes and pitched in 15 points of his own off the bench.
Patience is a Virtue: It seems like every game over the last month has provided a showcase for a new Miner to explode offensively. Jeremy Williams did it against Rice. Myron Strong did it against UAB. This time, Old Faithful Arnett Moultrie stepped up for the Miners with 18 points on an incredible 8/10 shooting from the field. Moultrie hit his first six shots and was instrumental in helping the Miners build an early lead.
Depth: Remember when Tony Barbee said this to the El Paso Times:
"Once again, as I've said all year long, depth is our strength," Barbee said. "We were able to rest some guys and Myron played the most minutes with just 27. Obviously, it's not like I'll be concerned about fresh legs tomorrow."
Depth has been instrumental throughout the Miners incredible run in 2010. Claude Britten and Christian Polk chipped in 21 points and 9 rebounds today. UTEP has now played over 30 games this year. The depth of talent that Tony Barbee has put together has enabled this team to take on the opposition's best shots and stay standing.