A Season in Review: UTEP Men's Basketball

USA TODAY Sports

This is a look back at the UTEP Men's Basketball season.

All good things must come to an end and the men’s basketball season is no exception. We went from the low points to even the chance to be in the NCAA field of 68. We saw injuries that plagued us to one of the better home records we have had in the past couple of years. While all the success we had did not lead us to where we wanted to go, the fact that we possibly denied a CBI invitation is not the end of the world. Miner fans should be excited for the future with one of the (if not the best) recruiting classes the university has ever seen. UTEP is only a few good pieces away from being an NCAA team, but let us take a look back at this season and reflect on how much we have grown as a program and why we should be excited.

Non-Conference Play (November 3rd 2012 to January 2nd 2013)

The Miners got a lot of praise for having one of the tougher schedules in the nation at the beginning of the year. They also got a lot of ridicule as well being that this Miners team did not have a true leader or true go to guy compared to teams of the past such as Randy Culpepper or Stephon Jackson. UTEP did not find this to be a serious problem and added former Sam Houston State guard Konner Tucker to the team. Highly coveted out of high school, Tucker did not have the greatest of college careers going from school to school. To make matters worse, the Miners were going to be without McKenzie Moore for the first half of the season due to NCAA transfer rules. The Miners opened up the season with everyone on the team with the exception of Red Shirt Players (Tyler Tafoya and Matt Wilms), as well as Moore. UTEP opened up with an exhibition against Southeastern Oklahoma. The Miners won the game but in the process lost Konner Tucker to a broken hand. UTEP’s first official game was against Oral Roberts University which they won by a total of 20 points. The biggest test of the season at the time for the Miners was a four game stand away from home, one game at the University of Arizona and three others at the Old Spice Classic (Oklahoma, Clemson and Vanderbilt). This stretch of games for the Miners showed us why we really needed that sharp shooter. UTEP was getting blown out of the water and was straight up being outplayed by teams that the Miners could have beaten. Losing 4 straight was a low point for the team and the city, no one knew what was going to happen and most fans might have gave up early. The remedy to this team’s record was a rivalry game vs. New Mexico state. NMSU was a 20+ win team and an NCAA team from last season but they had not fared well recently in the Don Haskins Center. The Miners would fight it out and get a one point win. The next five games were at home including the Sun Bowl Invitational tournament. UTEP took on the likes of Idaho, UNLV, and Oregon before the tournament. The Miners would go on to defeat the Vandals by 4 before facing UNLV. This game was surrounded by horrible officiating that ended up being the dagger against the Miners. Several fans who were watching on TV got pictures and then posted them to social networking sites showing Anthony Bennett from UNLV standing clearly on the line with the ref looking at him. The result of that play was boost for the Running Rebels to get out of the tie and provided the spark for the two point win and the first loss at home this season for the Miners. The Miners only hope for getting out of another slump would be to defeat a tough Oregon Ducks team lead by former Rice player Arsalan Kazemi. No one imagine the Miners to defeat the Ducks or even to go to triple overtime with them but both these cases happened. The two remaining games took place against Arkansas Pine Bluff and Nebraska. UTEP went on to win the tournament behind MVP Konner Tucker’s outstanding performance. Colorado State was the next Miners opponent and the first away game since going 0-4 from November 15-25. UTEP held on as long as they could and put themselves in the position to win but came up short losing by 4. This would end up being a trend that UTEP could not escape this season. Now with a full squad, the Miners were ready to head into conference play with a 6-6 overall record on the early season (6-1 home, 0-5 away).

Conference USA play (January 9th 2013 to March 15th 2013)

UTEP continued playing on the road against a Tulane team that had not lost at home. The Miners would take that game and hand them their first loss of the season. All seemed well as UTEP defeated Marshall at home and was one of only three teams at that point of CUSA play to have 2 wins and have won 1 game on the road. In the midst of conference play, the Miners had two non-conference opponents in Houston Baptist and NMSU. Houston Baptist would be the first team they would face. The Miners easily won the contest by a final of 72 to 44. This was a fine tuning point for not only the starters, but the bench players as well. UTEP went on a stretch of games where they had poor shooting nights and even poorer free throw shooting nights. UTEP lost twice to Tulsa this season with both games being decided by three and four points respectively. One of the high points was an amazing buzzer beater by McKenzie Moore against East Carolina. UTEP would go on a bad stretch losing four out of five games against Tulsa, Houston, USM and rival NMSU. The only win in that stretch was against a UCF team with really nothing to play for this season since they were on a post season ban. UTEP would close the season with 2 home games and 2 away games. The first home game was a rematch vs. a Houston team that had the upper hand against the Miners back in Houston. UTEP prevailed and won by 10 points in a game that looked like a blow out. The Miners then traveled to Houston to face Rice. This time UTEP left Houston with a victory en route to the biggest home game of the season vs. Memphis. After a tough fought battle between both schools, Memphis walked away with a two point win. After the loss it was revealed that the Miners had secured the number three seed in the CUSA tournament and would face the winner of Rice and a team to be later revealed. UTEP really had nothing to prove against SMU, but left Dallas with a win. The Miners went three for four with the only loss coming against the Tigers. UTEP found out that their next match up would be against either Houston or Rice. After both teams dueled it out in the CUSA tournament opener, the Cougars earned the right to play the Miners. UTEP would defeat the Cougars for the second time this year and ended up playing against Southern Mississippi in the semi-finals. This game was a lot like the Oregon game, surrounded by horrible officiating and costly mistakes. UTEP would go on to lost to USM by a final of 85 to 67 behind a 20 point effort from C.J. Cooper. With UTEP going 18-14, 10-6 in conference play, they knew their season was now over and their fate was left to the selection committees. After all the selection shows commenced, UTEP’s name was left out of all the post season tournaments. It is not officially known if UTEP was offered a bid and it was denied, but we can only hope that UTEP had the best intentions if this was the case.

Final Statistics (Courtesy of ESPN):

Player

GP

MIN

PPG

RPG

APG

SPG

BPG

TPG

FG%

FT%

3P%

Julian Washburn

32

34.6

12.3

4.2

1.7

0.9

0.3

1.8

.448

.700

.191

John Bohannon

29

24.8

10.2

6.3

1.4

0.7

1.7

1.9

.576

.649

.375

Konner Tucker

25

30.5

10.1

1.7

1.4

0.4

0.0

1.7

.390

.919

.397

McKenzie Moore

25

24.4

8.6

5.2

2.0

1.4

0.8

2.3

.454

.727

.351

Jacques Streeter

32

34.3

7.9

2.0

5.3

0.9

0.0

1.7

.402

.766

.394

Cedrick Lang

32

21.3

5.7

5.3

0.4

0.4

0.4

1.0

.576

.541

.000

C.J. Cooper

32

15.8

5.1

0.8

1.0

0.3

0.0

0.8

.405

.743

.385

Chris Washburn

32

14.9

4.4

2.9

0.6

0.8

0.5

1.5

.474

.495

.000

Jalen Ragland

24

13.7

3.8

0.9

0.4

0.1

0.1

0.2

.295

.900

.281

Hooper Vint

12

5.8

1.6

0.8

0.0

0.1

0.4

0.3

.600

.000

.500

Malcolm Moore

14

5.3

1.4

0.9

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.5

.500

.800

.000

Twymond Howard

12

5.6

1.3

1.1

0.2

0.2

0.1

0.1

.238

.545

.000

Season Statistics (Courtesy of ESPN):

Player

MIN

FGM

FGA

FTM

FTA

3PM

3PA

PTS

OFFR

DEFR

REB

AST

TO

STL

BLK

Julian Washburn

1106

160

357

63

90

9

47

392

30

104

134

54

59

28

11

John Bohannon

719

110

191

74

114

3

8

297

49

135

184

41

54

20

50

Konner Tucker

762

73

187

57

62

50

126

253

4

38

42

36

42

9

0

McKenzie Moore

611

74

163

48

66

20

57

216

28

102

130

51

57

34

20

Jacques Streeter

1099

76

189

59

77

41

104

252

6

58

64

171

55

28

1

Cedrick Lang

681

68

118

46

85

0

0

182

53

118

171

13

33

12

12

C.J. Cooper

506

51

126

26

35

35

91

163

4

21

25

32

26

8

0

Chris Washburn

478

46

97

48

97

0

1

140

33

59

92

18

47

26

15

Jalen Ragland

328

28

95

18

20

18

64

92

4

17

21

9

4

2

2

Hooper Vint

69

9

15

0

2

1

2

19

3

6

9

0

4

1

5

Malcolm Moore

74

6

12

8

10

0

2

20

4

8

12

1

7

1

1

Twymond Howard

67

5

21

6

11

0

2

16

3

10

13

2

1

2

1

Totals

--

706

1571

453

669

177

504

2042

274

730

1004

428

396

171

118

Final Ranks:

Points Per Game: 264th with 63.8

Rebounds Per Game: 304th with 31.4

Assists Per Game: 130th with 13.4

Field Goal Percentage: 87th with 44.9%

Final Thoughts: UTEP had a better season than the record showed. They made great strides for being one of the youngest teams in the nation. Sure some felt that we were deserving of a tournament for experience purposes, but at the same time I cannot wait to see how awesome this new team is going to look next season especially in a weaker Conference USA.

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