Vince Hunter notched his sixth double-double of the year, and 8 of the 9 Miners who played got into the scorebook as UTEP raced past an overmatched Incarnate Word team 81-65 to break a three game skid.
The opening minutes, again, were a bit slow as the Miners managed just five points in nearly the first five minutes of the game, but it wouldn't take much longer for them to really put their foot on the gas.
Seven straight by Hunter sparked a 29-8 run over about a ten minute span that turned a 5-5 tie into a 34-13 rout with just over 5 minutes left in the first half.
The Miners would let off just a bit to end the first half, allowing Incarnate Word to use a 16-6 run over the final five minutes to get back to within 11 at 40-29 as the teams headed into the locker rooms.
A made free throw on the opening possession of the second half would get Word back to within 10 at 40-30, but they wouldn't be able to get any closer than that the rest of the night.
Earvin Morris would lead an 8-0 UTEP spurt to push the lead back out to 18 at 48-30, and despite multiple efforts by the Cardinals to get back into the game, they would never be able to get over the hump.
The Miners would finish off the visitors from San Antonio with a fairly young lineup, and would see Lew Stallworth break out to score 13 points over the final 12 minutes of the game as they walked away with 81-65 win.
Vince Hunter led the way for the Miners with 16 points and 12 rebounds on 7-9 shooting in just 21 minutes of action. Earvin Morris finished with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Lew Stallworth chipped in with 13 points, and Julian Washburn finished with 10 points, 7 boards, and 4 assists.
Jontrell Walker was unstoppable on the night, going for a game high 30 points on 11-22 shooting. That also happens to be the most points the Miners have given up thus far this year. Denzel Livingston was the only other Cardinal to score in double figures going for 17 points and 7 rebounds.
The Miners shot a blistering hot 64.7% from the field, and a solid 76.5% (13-17) from the free throw line. Incarnate Word was held to just 34.9% shooting from the field, and finished at 65.2% (15-23) from the foul line.
UTEP dominated the glass, hauling in 40 rebounds to just 23 for the Cardinals, but the Miners were very careless with the basketball, giving up 22 turnovers while forcing UIW into 8.
Coach Floyd has this to say following the game:
"We got some solid play out of some guys. Turned it over too much which is a concern. Its something that we've got to get better at...Nice win. Its nice to get back with a win. We'll have eight days off prior to playing again a week from tomorrow. And then we have Arizona rolling in here...We need to use this an opportunity to try to get better with the workouts that we have."
Overall, it was a very good win by the Miners. Despite their soft schedule, Incarnate Word is a team that entered 5-0, and was averaging better than 90 points per game.
Yes it was sloppy, but that more than anything, was due to the Miners shuffling guys in and out, using different lineups, and frankly just trying to play fast against an overmatched team. At times they got careless, but this one was never in doubt which is what you want to see against a team like this.
Hopefully the return home has helped, and will continue to help this team get back to their winning ways. While they might not be a polished, finished product, they are too talented to be giving away games as they have been the last few weeks.
The win improves the Miners to 5-3 on the season, and sets them up with one more opportunity to iron things out against Southeastern Louisiana before the #3 Arizona Wildcats come in to visit the Don on December 19th.
The Miners will be back in action next Tuesday in that contest against Southeastern Louisiana. Tipoff for that game is slated for 7:00 p.m. MT.
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