The Miners walked into the McKale Center tonight, hoping to validate the excitement surrounding the program with a huge upset of #12 Arizona. It wasn't meant to be. The Miners fell behind early due to a barrage of three pointers from the Wildcats, and they were never able to come within striking distance the remainder of the contest.
Arizona freshman Grant Jerrett got the night started with a pair of back to back threes that put the Miners in an early 8-3 hole. UTEP was able to make a couple shots early on, going 3 of 4 in the opening minutes, but went cold and eventually found themselves down by as many 15 in the first half.
The Wildcats continued the assault from downtown, draining 8 of their 12 first half attempts, and enjoyed a comfortable 35-22 advantage at the break. All things considered, the Miners did well just to keep the game that close heading to the locker rooms.
The Miners came out with a little more spark in the second half, and were able to get the lead to as few as 8 on multiple occasions, as the shots weren't falling at the same rate for the Wildcats. However, every time UTEP was able to gain a bit of momentum, Arizona was able to snatch it right back.
Still, the Miners continued to fight, and brought the score again to an 8 point difference at 57-49 with about 6:30 minutes to play. But, right on cue, the Wildcats answered with a 13-0 run that ballooned their lead to 21 with under 2 minutes to play. In the end, that would be the final margin as the Miners fell 72-51.
Julian Washburn led the way for the Miners, finishing with 11 points on 4 of 12 shooting. Jacques Streeter chipped in with 10 points and 2 assists, Chris Washburn and C.J. Cooper finished with 9 a piece, and Jalen Raglend had 8 points.
Arizona was led by Xavier transfer Mark Lyons who finished with 17 points. Solomon Hill was the only other Wildcat in double figures with 10 points, and fresman Brandon Ashley finished with 9.
The Miners were held to 36% shooting on the night, while the Wildcats dipped just below 50 at 49%. And, after doing a fairly good job taking care of the ball early on, the Miners finished with 15 turnovers. Arizona had 19.
But, the most glaring statistic in this game, however, happened to be rebounds. The Miners managed to pull down only 14 boards, compared to Arizona's 32. It's one thing to face a hot shooting team, but when the rebounding margin is tilted so much against you, you just aren't going to win on the road. Much less against the #12 team in the nation.
Still though, the Miners should not be discouraged at the outcome of this game. They fought hard against a quality opponent, and tonight, they were just outmatched. This isn't the end; it's only the beginning. There are still plenty more quality opponents to come on this schedule. And, it continues this coming week with the Old Spice Classic.