Two weeks ago, the UTEP Miners went to New Orleans and the Tulane Green Wave mens basketball team didn't show up until the second half. UTEP had little trouble against Kendal Timmons and company on their way to a 69-58 win. Tonight, the UTEP hoops squad had no such luck. Tonight, UTEP got Tulane's best shot. When the dust settled, UTEP earned a hard fought win against a team that simply wouldn't go away.
Tulane started the game shooting absolutely lights out from all over the court. Behind Kendal Timmons 16 points, Tulane led for most of the half. The Wave shot a blistering 54.6% from three point land (6/11) and 54.2% from the field overall. For good measure, Tulane was 6/6 from the line. Timmons, on top of his game leading 16 points, had 6 rebounds and 4 assists. It was quite simply a one an show. Timmons couldn't be stopped for the games first 20 minutes.
In the second half, UTEP battled back and behind efficient play from Julyan Stone and the scoring of Christian Polk. Polk and John Bohannon. In fact, UTEP trailed by three points at the half but tied it up when Polk hit a three pointer to open up the second. Polk led UTEP with 16 points. John Bohannon had 11 points. UTEP pulled ahead 61-55 with with 4:59 to play.
Tulane wouldn't go away behind solid clutch play from guard Jordan Callahan. Callahan was efficient from the floor and had success creating for his teammates, notably forward David Booker who finished with 11 points. Callahan had 13 points and hit 4/7 from downtown.
Tulane cooled in the second half, naturally, but still shot over 43% from the field. UTEP was able to ride out the stor behind some clutch play by John Bohannan and some good free throw shooting from Jeremy Williams and Christian Polk in the final minutes.
Here are the rest of my comments, in bullet points:
- What's Gotten into RC3? Randy Culpepper struggled from the field tonight and finished with only 10 points on 3/10 shooting. Culpepper really struggled from the line and shot an ice cold 3/9 including splitting two pairs of shots in the games final minutes which helped Tulane keep hope alive. Culpepper is usually one of UTEP's best free throw shooters and usually hits over 76% from the line. Randy did have two steals and played aggressively on defense.
- Big Night for Christian Polk: Nice to see that when Randy struggles from the floor, Christian Polk can step up and fill the void. Polk was 6/10 from the field and hit 2/2 from three point land. He also had six assists.
- Big Time Bohannon: Freshman post John Bohannon provided UTEP with a huge offensive boost in the second half. Bohannon showed solid footwork on offense and hit on 5/7 shots. He also displayed an uncanny ability to pass the ball for a big man. In 23 minutes, Bohannon filled the stat sheet and ended with 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 assists.
- Random Stat: With the exception of Randy Culpepper, UTEP shot very well from the free throw line. In fact, Miners not named Randy shot 9/9 from the line.
- Stone Keeps it Going: Julyan Stone had 10 rebounds to lead the Miners yet again. Stone kicked off his current rebounding binge against Tulane two weeks ago when he had 15 boards.
- Keeping Pace: UTEP's win helped the Miners improve to 5-1 in C-USA play. Memphis beat up on UCF (who UTEP plays next week) to stay tied with UTEP. UAB held off Marshall in Birmingham and at 4-2 are now all alone in second place. Five C-USA teams now have three league losses (SMU, USM, Houston, ECU, and Tulsa). Tulsa suffered perhaps the most difficult loss of the night; on a last second Robert Nyakundi three pointer in their loss to 58-59 loss at home to SMU.
- Dead Last: Who would have thought it, but UCF is now all alone at the bottom of the C-USA standings. Rice knocked off Houston in overtime, so UCF's 1-5 record is now the worst in the league. To be fair, Marshall only has 1 league win too, but has lost one fewer game. So, two teams that many thought would compete for the C-USA title, UCF and Marshall, are now 11th and 12th in the standings after 6 league games.