The UTEP Miners extended their basketball winning streak to five by besting the Texas Tech Red Raiders 82-71 at the Don Haskins Center. UTEP was led by a monster night from Randy Culpepper who exploded for 28 points including three 3-pointers. Julyan Stone finished with 15 points and a game high 10 rebounds despite missing a chunk of the second half after picking up his 4th personal foul with over 16 minutes to play.
Here are my quick thoughts on the game, bullet style of course:
- The Best Player on the Court: There's no denying that even with a Big 12 school on the court, Randy Culpepper was a step ahead of the competition. Seemingly everytime Texas Tech made a run, Culpepper would make a play to keep UTEP ahead. Randy was also 7-7 from free throws. UTEP desperately needed those freebies on a night when the Miners shot a terrible 20-36 (55.6%) from the line.
- Great Britten: Going into the game, I thought Claude Britten would give UTEP an advantage in the game down low over Tech's center Robert Lewandowsky. Britten struggled with Lewandowsky early on as he had 8 quick points. But, as as he settled down, Britten held Lewandowsky to one point in the second half and finished with 11 key points of his own.
- Don't Call Him "Just" a Point Guard: Julyan Stone led all players with 10 rebounds. Clearly, UTEP though they could have success with Stone attacking the rim off the dribble. Stone was aggressive on offense and kept Tech's guards on their heels. He played well on defense. Despite foul troubles, he would have had an excellent game if not for ....
- Not Quite "Free" Throws: Stone finished a disastrous 4-12 from the free throw line. The Miners shot under 56% as a team from the 'charity' stripe.
- The Glue Guy: Gabe McCulley may have only scored 4 points, but he made his presence known over the 16 minutes he played tonight. McCulley was constantly around the ball and was hustling on both ends of the court. McCulley had 5 rebounds and a block. He's going to be a very nice role player for this team.
- John "The Next Big Thing" Bohannon: Coming into the season, I think most Miner fans thought freshman center John Bohannon would be a 5-10 minute per night guy who was just used to spell Claude Britten and Wayne Portalatin. That is not the case. Bohannon is becoming an integral part of the rotation and in 20 minutes tonight he chipped in 9 points and 6 rebounds. Bohannon is getting more and more confident and with no more Hassan Whiteside and Jerome Jordan in the C-USA, the sky is the limit come league play.
- Far From Perfect: This was a very nice one and the Miner Nation desperately needed some good news from the Tim Floyd after the football team laid an egg in Albuquerque. That said, the Miners are definitely a work in progress. While Tech has talent, Brad Reese and Mike Singletary had nice games, the Red Raiders haven't won a road game all season. They have lost three in a row. So, UTEP won a game they were supposed to. The Miners were often times sloppy with the ball (10 turnovers to only 12 assists) and complacent on both sides of the ball. The score might look healthy, but the Miners led by only 5 with minutes to play. It really never should have been that close. With Julyan Stone out of the game with foul trouble, the Miners offense looked very rough at times. While Randy Culpepper bailed UTEP out at times, Christian Polk struggles when asked to be a distributor. Jeremy Williams was a non-factor on offense. Miner fan can celebrate this win against a Big 12 school, but be assured that Tim Floyd will have plenty to coach up this week.