Miners Wear Down Demons

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

McKenzie Moore was huge in his return to the lineup, as the Miners defeat the Northwestern St. Demons 84-74, and improve to 6-5 on the season.

What a difference McKenzie Moore makes when he is on the floor for the UTEP Miners.

Moore returned after a one game suspension, and did what he does best; stuff the stat sheet.

The Miners point guard led the bounce back win with 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists, and 3 steals, but more importantly got to the free throw line 14 times, converting 10 free bees.

The game started fast, with UTEP jumping out to a 4-0 lead after Moore hit his first two free throws, followed up by a 7-0 Demon run as Jalan West nailed a 3-pointer.

Both teams would play mano y mano in the first ten minutes, the Demons managed an 11-9 lead after a huge put back dunk from DeQuan Hicks.

Then the Miners caught fire, Jalen Ragland knocked down a three-pointer to give the Miners a 14-11 lead, then three minutes later, Ragland would knock down another long ball, sparking an 7-0 Miner run, giving UTEP an 8-point lead coming out of the under eight minute timeout.

Although the Demons would answer again cutting the Miner gap to three, as Brison White threw down an emphatic jam off a Miner turnover.

Ten first half Miner turnovers would keep the Demons in the game, though John Bohannon would dominate the paint in the first half with 10 rebounds and 2 blocks

A Bohannon stuff on Sabri Thompson would start a 10-0 Miner run in the last three minutes of the half, capped off by McKenzie Moore sinking a three-pointer from the top of the key as time expired giving the Miners a 42-29 lead at the break.

Though too it was the return of the Miners signature aggressive defense that protected the rim all night, as they held the Demons to 29.4 percent shooting in the first half, and blocked 6 shots as a team.

The Miners used their size to their advantage, scoring 40 of their 84 points in the paint. Cedrick Lang scored 14 points on 7/7 shooting, he had 10 in the first half, most came from him moving well without the ball leading to easy bunnies.

Moore bullied his way to the rim all night against Northwestern State's smaller guards,  drawing a whistle seemingly every time he went up.

His 17 points makes it the 5th time this season he has lead the Miners in scoring, and third straight game he has lead the Miners in points when he has played.

Playing their second game in a row, while traveling from Waco to Dallas to El Paso this morning and afternoon, seemed to catch up with Demons in the middle of the second half.

The Demons shot 4/20 from behind the arc, including 2/13 in the second half, which the Miners turned into 33 defensive rebounds for the game.

The Miners held a held 10-12 point lead from 13:28 mark until the Demons cut the Miner lead to six at 56-50 with a little under 10 minutes to go.

UTEP would Bear back down on defense, as a Julian Washburn layup gave UTEP its largest lead at 70-56 with 5:24 left as the Demons ran out gas.

Vince Hunter sealed the game away with a huge one-handed poster over DaQuan Hicks, as the Miners bounced back from the horrific loss to New Orleans with a nice 84-74 win.

The Miners out rebounded the Demons 40-32, making it three straight w's in the rebounding margin for the Miners.

Hunter had an active night scoring 13 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, add 3 assists and 3 crowd ohh-ing blocks, and the freshman collects his second very impressive double-double of the season.

Bo also had a double-double finishing with 10 points and 13 rebounds, while adding 6 assists and 3 blocks to the party.

Even though the Miners had 18 turnovers, they had 21 assists on 29 field goals, every starter had more than 2 assists, with Bohannon being the stat leader in dimes. The ball moved very well in the half court for UTEP.

Justin Crosgile also returned from a suspension and had rough night on offense with only 1 assist, and 5 turnovers, but was solid on defense grabbing 6 rebounds.

DaQuan Hicks lead four different Demons in double figures with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

The Miners had five in double figures, Julian Washburn had an efficient offensive night, scoring 16 points on 6/9 shooting from the field, while going a perfect 4 of 4 from the charity stripe, and as always adding his usual prowess on defense.

Tomorrow morning the Miners fly out to Pullman, Washington for a Saturday night battle with Washington State of the Pac-12, at 6:30 PM MDT on the Pac-12 Network.

This was a good win for the Orange and Blue as they head on the road Saturday, then return for five straight back in the Haskins Center starting with Montana State on Monday.

Washington State possess way more height and talent, after losing three in a row, the Cougars have won four out of their last five games.

Floyd jokingly told C.J. Cooper to get home and get to bed in the tunnel after the game, Floyd knows it will be an all night dance on Saturday.

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