USA TODAY Sports
The UTEP Miners took their first step towards their 29th Sun Bowl Championship run by defeating Arkansas-Pine Bluff tonight at the Don Haskins Center.
The Miners (5-5) emerge victorious against Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-10) in the second game of the Sun Bowl Invitational Tournament winning by a final of 83 to 61. Anyone who was at the game would probably agree that the score did not dictate how the Miners played tonight. Head Coach Tim Floyd was not present for the game for an unknown reason (when we find out we will inform you).
Arkansas-Pine Bluff was pretty much the annoying little brother who always stayed by your side when you wanted to hang out with your friends. Despite scoring first, the Golden Lions knew that they could hang with the Miners. You saw no fear in their eyes by the way that they played tonight. They were confident about every shot and gave it their all.
The Golden Lions were led behind 15 point games from both Mitchell Anderson and Lazabian Jackson. No other UAPB player scored in double figures tonight. DaVon Haynes was only 2 points shy of a double-double as he had 8 points and 10 rebounds. After John Bohannon and Cedrick Lang made the first 4 points for the Miners, UAPB realized that they must start taking smarter shots and protect the ball.
After sloppy defense by the Miners, UAPB would come crawling back into the game and eventually take their only lead (19-17 at the 10:26 mark). Once again it was the one two punch of Bohannon and Lang to put the Miners on top 21 to 19. The Miners would continue to score and not look back. UTEP's biggest lead of the night was 22 points.
UTEP dominated Arkansas-Pine Bluff thanks to the entire starting five which all finished with double digit points tonight. Senior Konner Tucker continues to win the hearts of Miner fans everywhere as he scored 18 points (all from three point line). Tucker has played exceptionally well the past three games and has accumulated a total of 42 points. Konner does not show any fatigue at all, nor does he look like his injury even affected him.
Junior John Bohannon had 17 points and 8 rebounds tonight. Bohannon continues to improve from a rather shaky start to the season. He is consistently scoring points and pulling in more and more boards every game. Sophomore Julian Washburn contributed with 16 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.
Jacques Streeter provided 10 points and 8 assists tonight for the Miners. The Senior guard has been playing very well these past couple of games and is starting to find more opportunities to dish the ball out to open shooters. We only saw Chris Washburn play for 2 minutes tonight for only 1 point, 1 rebound and 1 assist.
On the post game radio show, Coach Johnson stated that he liked the rotation that he had on the floor during the second half of the game and he didn't want to compromise the flow that the Miners were in. The Miners saw a total of 11 players on the floor. The bench only contributed 12 points tonight but in retrospect, those were important points.
The Miners will face off against the Nebraska Cornhuskers tomorrow night at 7 pm MT for the Sun Bowl Invitational Championship. The Miners have won 28 out of the 50 Sun Bowl Invitational Tournament Championships and looks to make it number 29 in the 51st championship. Nebraska defeated the Central Michigan tonight by a final of 89 to 75. Tomorrow afternoon we will have the pre game write up for the UTEP vs. Nebraska match up.
Final Team Statistics:
FGM-A: 25-64 (39.1%) OREB: 12 AST: 13 TO: 11
3PM-A: 6-29 (20.7%) DREB: 15 STL: 10 PF: 20
FTM-A: 5-10 (50 %) ToREB: 27 BLK: 2
FGM-A: 28-45 (62.2%) OREB: 6 AST: 21 TO: 15
3PM-A: 9-14 (64.3 %) DREB: 28 STL: 5 PF: 13
FTM-A: 18-28 (64.3 %) ToREB: 34 BLK: 1
Miner Rush Player of the Game: Senior guard # 25 Konner Tucker
Konner continues to show us why he was a high recruited player out of high school. When he shoots you cannot help but get out of your seat from excitement. Tucker provides the spark that this team needs going into not only tomorrow night's championship game, but into Conference USA play as well. We can only wonder what it would be like had he played his entire career with the Miners.