It wasn't the start that we had hoped for, but the Miners overcame a cold shooting night and a scrappy Southeastern squad to down the Storm 70-63. UTEP actually trailed late in the first half, but used a 10-0 run to jump ahead, and took a 38-30 lead into the intermission.
The Miners opened up their lead to as many as 13 in the second stanza, but were unable to create any more separation, and the pesky Storm kept making shots to keep the game close. In the end though, the Miners were able to gain control, and come away with the victory.
Coach Tim Floyd had this to say following the game:
"This time last year, I believe, we were licking our wounds from a 20-point loss to Eastern New Mexico...We have a lot of room for growth [this year]...I thought that for the most part we weren’t a big turnover team until about a four-minute stretch of the second half...I thought we got back on defense for the most part and didn’t give up easy layups in transition."
The Miners were led by Jacques Streeter and Konner Tucker who scored 11 points a piece. John Bohannon pitched in with 10 points and 8 rebounds, and Julian Washburn finished with 8 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. Cedrick Lang and Maclolm Moore had 4 points each, but combined for 14 rebounds, and Chris Washburn finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists.
The bad news coming out of this game is that guard Konner Tucker spent most of the second half in the locker room and on the bench with an ice pack on his wrist. There's no exact word yet as to the extent of the injury, but Coach Floyd did fear it was broken.
"We think it could possibly be broken...He's a guy we were really going to have to rely on at the off-guard position, along with Jalen Ragland. He has been really steady and his experience has helped us. We certainly hope it's not broken, because he has been our best shooter throughout camp."
And Tucker certainly was the best shooter Saturday night, knocking down three of his five three point attempts, and both of his free throws. Hopefully the situation isn't as bad as it seems, and he'll be able to recover quickly.
As for the rest of the team, this was certainly a bit of a rusty start. It was very reminiscent of a year ago, although as coach Floyd mentioned, we lost that one. Perhaps much of the rust was do to the substituting. Again, much like last year, Floyd was regularly subbing guys in and out, trying to get a feel for what this team has got.
In the end, 11 guys played double digit minutes, and only one played better than 30 minutes (Julian Washburn). Cedrick Lang and Jalen Raglend each played 20 minutes, and Jacques Streeter played 28. All other players played less than 20 minutes.
Considering that, its tough for guys to get into a rhythm, and it showed. Maybe though, we should all just get used to these slow starts. After all, it doesn't seem like Coach Floyd isn't so much interested in a win in these types of games, as he is interested in finding out exactly what he's got.
And we'll all get to find out exactly what the Miner have got this Friday as they will open up the regular season against Oral Roberts in the Don Haskins Center. ORU is team that won 26 games a year, and knocked off some stiff competition. While it may not be a name the most people recognize, they are certainly a quality program, and will be a challenge for this young Miner's team.
"It's a Sutton coached team, so they'll be inside oriented...We're going to have to do a better job with our interior defense than we did tonight. Hopefully we'll have a great turnout for that game."
Tipoff for the game is slated for 7:00 p.m. MT, and tickets are still available.