In shocking fashion, the New Orleans Privateers started hot, never really cooled down, and just flat out outplayed the Miners in just about every aspect en route to a 71-69 victory.
New Orleans knocked down four of their first five shots, including three from long distance, and quickly jumped ahead of the Miners 17-12 with 13:28 left in the first half.
The Privateers would hold on to that lead for just about seven minutes, but a three pointer by Jalen Ragland with 6:30 to play would put the Orange and Blue back on top at 30-27. UNO would hold one more lead in the first twenty minutes, but it would be the Miners who would hold a 36-34 lead at the half.
New Orleans would score the first three points out of the locker rooms to quickly take back the lead at 37-36, and it would be a back and forth battle the rest of the ball game.
UTEP would eventually go up by as many six at 55-49 with just more than 10 minutes remaining, but the pesky Privateers just simply wouldn't go away. In fact, from there they used an 11-0 run to quickly turn the six point deficit into a five point lead with 7:01 left.
The Miners would answer with five straight by C.J. Cooper to knot the game up at 60, but New Orleans would fire right back with five of their own to get back their five point advantage at 65-60.
Time began to run out on the Miners, as with 24 seconds remaining, they still trailed the 2-4 Privateers by 3. UTEP drew up a shot for Cooper out of a timeout, but his fadeaway three clanked off the rim. Luckily, Cedrick Lang was there for the putback, bringing the Miners to within 1 at 70-69.
New Orleans' Kevin Hill split a pair of free throws with under 10 seconds to play, and a UTEP three and putback both fell off the rim, dropping the Miners to 5-5 on the young season.
The Miners were led by Jalen Ragland who finished with 19 points, 17 of which came in the first half. Vince Hunter had a very quiet 17 points and 6 rebounds, and John Bohannon finished with a somewhat disappointing 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Coach Floyd had this to say following the loss:
"It's a frustrating loss...We played against a team that played very spirited. I thought they played better than we did. I thought they shot it really well, guys like [Isaac] Mack, [Tradarri] McPhearson, [Teris] Bourgeois, guys that had not really shot for that kind of percentage just wore it out. We couldn't stop them and couldn't guard them."
The Miners certainly couldn't stop them, and it resulted in the New Orleans Privateers picking up their first road win against a Division 1 team since they won at Louisiana-Monroe on February 18th, 2010.
Perhaps having McKenzie Moore in the lineup, who was suspended for the game, would have made all the difference. Perhaps even having Justin Crosgile in the lineup, who didn't play for unspecified reasons, would have done the trick.
In the end though, the Miners still have enough size, talent, and ability to handle a team like New Orleans on their home floor. Tonight's loss was extremely disappointing, and completely unacceptable.
This team will now have to get back to the drawing board, and prepare for a slate that will not be getting much easier than what they saw tonight. If this season is going to be a successful one, things will have to change, in a hurry.
Up next, the Miners will face Northwestern State Thursday at 7:35 in the Haskins Center. The Demons are a team that are only 4-5 on the season, but rank 4th nationally in points per game. If the Miners aren't careful, they could find themselves in another dogfight.
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