The title says it all. It was a great weekend for UTEP athletics, and there's a ton to go over in the latest edition of The Dig. Here's what's going on around Miner Nation, around Conference USA, and around the rest of the country.
AROUND MINER NATION
UTEP Men's Basketball Drops NMSU 73-69
Call it revenge, call it fate, or just call a group of young men who are rapidly improving. In any case, the Miners won round two of the Battle of I-10 yesterday in the Don Haskins Center 73-69. The Miners sprinted out to a 22-4 lead 7 minutes into the contest, and led 45-38 at intermission. The Aggies were never out of it, and even held a 65-60 lead with only 7 minutes to play, but the Miners fought back to take the lead, and close out the 73-69 win.
Sophomore Mike Perez led the way again for the Miners with 19 points and 4 rebounds, while senior Gabe McCulley had a huge game with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Freshman Julian Washburn had a great game of his own, going for 16 points and 3 rebounds. Sophomore John Bohannon did not play Sunday afternoon. He was held out for "conduct detrimental to the rivalry".
Everyone remembers the comments made my NMSU senior F Wendell McKines only weeks ago after the Miners' loss to Eastern New Mexico. For those who don't, McKines called UTEP a "disgrace to the Southwest", and also said everyone in El Paso should run and hide when the Aggies come to town. Well, no one was hiding, and in fact it was NMSU that was running back Las Cruces after the defeat.
I can't remember who it was, but one of you Rusher's made a comment about McKines looking like a fool if NMSU didn't sweep UTEP. Well, NMSU didn't sweep UTEP, and after being held to only 4 points, I'd say McKines looks like a fool indeed.
Anyway, the Miners will now head to Las Vegas to take on a strong UNLV team on Wednesday, and will now play 6 games in 11 days, including that matchup with UNLV. I think it'd be naive to assume that UTEP will just automatically start winning a ton of games, but there is no doubt that they are improving, and that senior Gabe McCulley's presence has truly inspired this team.
UTEP Women Improve to 8-0
The UTEP women are officially off to the best start in program history. Their 53-43 win on Saturday at New Mexico improved them to 8-0 on the season. Gloria Brown led the way for the Miners with 12 points and 7 rebounds, Briana Green and Kelli Willingham both chipped in with 10 points, and Kristine Vitola also had a solid outing going for 6 points and 10 boards.
Up next for the Lady Miners is a home matchup with Northern Colorado (5-4), and a road contest against Loyola Marymount (3-7). They will also take on UCSB (3-5), Arizona St.(7-1) , and Texas St. (4-3) before opening conference action on the road against SMU on January 5th.
UTEP freshman Julian Washburn has been named this week's Conference USA freshman of the week after his 16 point effort against New Mexico St. Washburn also had the task of guarding NMSU's leading scorer, Christian Kabongo. Kabongo finished the contest going 3-11 from the field, and only scored 9 points. Congratulations to Julian.
AROUND CONFERENCE USA
The University of Tulane is committed to improving their athletics department, and it is starting with the football program. Last week, New Orleans Saints' WR coach Curtis Johnson was named the new head football coach at Tulane, and now the university has announced its plans for a new $60 million football stadium.
According to reports, the university AD and President are currently trying to position the university for "upward movement" as far as conference realignment goes. Apparently, Tulane is one of about 4 to 6 schools that are currently being considered for Big 12 expansion. I'm not quite sure how true that is, but pumping money into your sports programs will certainly help.
Conference USA is not represented in this week's men's basketball top 25 polls. Memphis, who started out the season ranked in the top 10, has already suffered 3 early season losses, and has dropped from the rankings. Tulane, who was started the season 9-0 was receiving votes in last week's polls, is no longer receiving votes after losing to Wofford last week. Memphis is still receiving votes, and will certainly have its opportunities in the coming week to make its way back into the top 25.
AROUND THE COUNTRY
For those who did not get a chance to watch the Cincinatti vs. Xavier basketball game over the weekend, click the link to get filled in on exactly what happened. The heated rivalry turned ugly as Xavier led big with only second to play. Multiple punches were thrown, and the game was called with 9 seconds left on the clock. Players from both teams have been suspended for between 1-6 games, and an Ohio prosecutor is said to be considering criminal charges against players involved in the brawl.
Baylor QB Robert Griffin III was named the winner of the 2011 Heisman Award. Griffin completed 72% of his passes on the season, threw of 3,998 yards and 36 TDs, and also rushed for 644 yards and 9 TDs. The junior QB led Baylor to a 9-3 record, a #12 ranking, and an Alamo Bowl appearance.
Griffin won the Heisman by receiving 405 first place votes, and 1687 total points. Preseason Heisman favorite Andrew Luck finished second in the voting with with 247 first place votes, and 1407 points. Alabama's Trent Richardson, Wisconsin's Monte Ball, and LSU's Tyrann Mathieu rounded out the top 5 for the Heisman Award.