The UTEP Men's basketball season came to an end Thursday night, as the Miners fell to #1 seed and host school Memphis 65-47. The Miners were able to keep the game close, holding the Memphis lead to within single digits with under 5 minutes to play, but the Tigers were just too strong. The game ends the Miners Conference USA season, and barring a miracle CBI or CIT invite, it ends the season entirely.
Big shot out to Gabriel McCulley. While we all know he didn't end his career the way he would've wanted to, he carried this team throughout the season, and ensured the success that we did experience. While we as Miner fans hoped for better, we have to be proud of the fight and growth that these young players showed throughout the season. In only a couple of months we went from losing to Eastern New Mexico and Stephen F. Austin (only scored 35 points), to beating teams like Memphis and Southern Mississippi.
The good news today is that we still have guys like Julian Washburn and Cedrick Lang for three more years, Mike Perez and John Bohannon for two more years, and everyone else, minus McCulley, for at least another year. Chris Washburn Jr. and Twymond Howard will add to this already talented bunch, and the Miners will compete for titles in C-USA or whatever other conference we are in for years to come. But, for now, we just sit back, and enjoy the rest of the Madness. Go Miners!
(6) Marshall Thundering Herd (20-12, 9-7) vs. (2) Southern Miss Golden Eagles (25-7, 11-5) 2:00 p.m. MT on CBSCS
As expected, the Marshall/Tulsa game turned out to be the game of the day in the quarterfinal round, going to three overtimes before the Herd finally prevailed 105-100. Sophomore G DeAndre Kane carried Marshall on his back, going for a career high and C-USA tourney record 40 points. The Golden Eagles also participated in and ovetime game on Thursday, knocking off (10) ECU 81-78 behind six players who scored in double figures. In the regular season, both of these teams picked a win against the other, with Marshall grabbing the most recent. If they can find the legs after yesterday's marathon, the Herd might just find themselves playing for the championship on Saturday.
(4) UCF Knights (22-9, 10-6) vs. (1) Memphis Tigers (24-8, 13-3) 4:30 p.m. MT on CBSCS
The Knights got past the (5) UAB Blazers in the nightcap yesterday 64-54, behind 14 points and 7 rebounds from junior F Keith Clanton. The Tigers enter fresh off a 65-47 win over (8) UTEP yesterday, and look to repeat as Conference USA tournament champions. Like in the other semifinal, these two teams split their regular season matchups, with the Tigers taking the most recent, in the FedEx Forum, 84-55. The Tigers not only have the best player in the league on their team, they have the most athletic roster in the league from top to bottom hands down. They are on their own court, and they are hungry. I don't think anyone will stop them before the NCAA tourney.
(4) UAB Blazers (19-10, 9-7) vs. (1) UTEP Miners (27-3, 15-1) 11:30 a.m MT
The UAB Blazers picked up an impressive win in the quarterfinal round, knocking off (5) Rice 72-46. But, the UTEP Women were equally as impressive, dropping a hot Southern Miss team 92-79. The 92 points is the highest total of the season, so hopefully the Miners are peaking at the right time. While yesterday's win should solidify the Miner's spot in the NCAA tourney, it could never hurt to pick up another. Hopefully they do. Go Miners!
(3) Tulane Green Wave (22-9, 9-7) defeated the (2) Memphis Tigers (24-7, 13-3) in the first semifinal of the day. Thus, the Green Wave await the winner of the (1) UTEP/(4)UAB game in the championship.