After giving up 86 points to I-10 rival New Mexico State, Tim Floyd called his team's defensive performance "pitiful". The men in orange, responded holding West Alabama to only 24.7 percent shooting from the field, while forcing them to jack up 33 3-point attempts making only six for the game.
Though wasted possessions lost by eight UTEP first half turnovers would cut the UTEP lead to only 28-20 at halftime, after jumping out to a 14-5 lead heading into to the second media timeout. Sparked by Cedrick Lang's six early points.
Coach Tim Floyd
We got out rebounded by a team that wasn't really big. That area we didn't get much improvement on. We did get a little better in defensive transition, we got a little better in half court defense, our big guys involvement was certainly better. Not a lot of flow into our offense tonight.
UTEP started an unusual line up with Vince Hunter, Cedrick Lang, and Tevin Caldwell earning their first starts of the season.
Caldwell took advantage of his minutes by holding the Tigers leading scorer Sandy Underwood who came in averaging 28.5 points in the their first two games, scoreless in the first half.
He was also active all over the floor, scoring 6 points, grabbing 2 rebounds, while adding 2 steals in the first frame. Caldwell would finish with 9 points.
Vince Hunter again had a solid night for the Miners, leading the Miners in scoring for a second straight game with 14 points and 8 rebounds, sparking an eventual 15-4 run out of the halftime break with an emphatic two hand jam that would stretch the Miners lead to 19 when Justin Crosgile knocked down a three with 14 minutes left to play.
The Miners allowed 13 first half Tiger offensive rebounds and 23 for the game, though the Miners forced Alabama to shoot jumpers all night and did a better job of protecting the bucket.
The Miners would get out to 58-37 lead with about six and half minutes to play as C.J. Cooper came off the bench to score 10 points hitting two three pointers.
McKenzie Moore added 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists, though had 3 turnovers.
Julian Washburn did not start for just the second time in his Miner career, and did not attempt a shot, while committing three turnovers in just seven minutes.
There were reports that Floyd had called in Washburn to go back into the game in the second half but Washburn refused, Floyd called it "disappointing" after the game as Washburn said his stomach was hurting.
John Bohannon also did not start and in fact did not even see the floor, though will be back Tuesday against Colorado State. Jalen Ragland also did not a see a minute of action.
Coach Floyd on Bohannon
I felt like it was important for him to understand his importance for our team, and there was no need to put him in. I think that tomorrow is a new day. Bo's attitude has been great, his performance was not one that we would have expected over at New Mexico State in terms of effort and energy and toughness on the road. I think tonight will really help him when we play again, and he will play in our next ball game and play a significant role
Cordell Pope scored a game high 15 points for West Alabama as he knocked down three treys and 7 rebounds.
In all UTEP had four players score in double figures and shot 48.9 percent for the game and improves to 2-1 on the young season.
UTEP will continue their three game homestand Tuesday 7:05 PM MDT in the Don Haskins Center against Colorado State who appeared in last year's NCAA tournament.