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UTEP Opens Sun Bowl Invitational With 78-45 Dismantling of Alcorn State

The Miners opened up their holiday invitational with a solid win over Alcorn State, and will play Kent State in the championship game Monday night.

Three scored in double figures, and eight of the nine who played had five points or more as the Miners easily got by Alcorn State in the opening round of the Westar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.

The Miners had no issues starting slow in this one, scoring the game's first 8 points, and jumping out to a 17-3 lead less than seven minutes into the ball game.

UTEP would continue to press the issue, holding the Braves to less than 10 points until the 5:55 mark. They also built a first half lead as large as 24 at 39-15 following an Omega Harris buzzer beater from just beyond the mid court stripe that ended the half.

The Miners would continue to dominate out of the locker rooms, scoring 13 of the first 15 points out of the break, stretching their lead out to 35 at 52-17 with still 13:33 left to play.

A Vince Hunter dunk with 1:31 left to play would give the Miners their largest lead of the night at 78-42, and following three final points from the Braves the Miners would walk away with an impressive 78-45 victory.

Hunter once again led the way, scoring 16 points on 7-12 shooting, while pulling down 6 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists to go along with 3 steals. Cedrick Lang also had a big night, scoring 13 points on 6-6 shooting. Omega Harris was the only other Miner in double figures, scoring 10 points to go along with 3 rebounds, 4 assists and no turnovers.

Marquis Vance and Reginald Johnson each finished with 12 points apiece for the Braves, with Vance pulling down 5 rebounds and Johnson grabbing 3.

The Miners shot 48.4% from the field, including 34.8% from three (8-23), and also knocked in 10 of their 14 free throw attempts, good for 71.4%. The Braves were held to just 31.9% shooting, and 3-14 from deep (21.4%), while knocking down 12 of their 20 free throws (60%).

Alcorn State actually outrebounded the Miners 37-34, including 13 to 9 on the offensive end, but also committed 19 turnovers while UTEP finished with just 5. The Miners also had 23 assists on their 30 made buckets, while Alcorn had just 5 on 15.

The win improves the Miners to 7-4 on the season, and sets them up with a matchup against a pretty good Kent State team in the finals of the Sun Bowl Invitational tomorrow night. Kent State knocked off North Dakota State 53-52 prior to the UTEP game tonight.

While it doesn't exactly make the loss to Arizona hurt any loss, its definitely good to see our guys a.) have a short term memory to be able to get over the loss and take care of business, and b.) be able to start fast.

Another dominant performance tomorrow night against Kent State will go a long way in showing that this team is ready to make a run in Conference USA play. That game will be the final tuneup before opening league play at UNT and Rice January 2nd and 4th. Tipoff for tomorrow's contest is slated for 7:00 p.m. MT.

Make sure to stay tuned to MinerRush for coverage of all things UTEP sports. Also, make sure to on Twitter and as always don't forget to like our Facebook Page. Picks Up, and Go Miners!