Vince Hunter once again flirted with a double-double, and all five Miner starters scored eight points or more as they improved to 3-1 in league play with a 74-40 blowout of Southern Miss.
This one wasn't in question for very long. The Golden Eagles held an early 5-3 lead following a Norville Carey made just 3:10 in, but it would be all UTEP from there.
The Miners exploded for a 17-0 run that turned a 5-3 deficit into a 20-5 lead with 8:20 left in the half. They would continue to press the issue and would lead by as many as 26 in the first half before holding a 40-15 advantage at the break.
It would be more of the same in the second twenty minutes as UTEP would open on an 8-2 run, and would continue to expand its lead almost for the rest of the night.
The Miners would double up the Golden Eagles, owning their biggest lead of the night at 70-35 following a pair of Cedrick Lang made free throws with 6:36 to play. They'd pump the brakes from there, and would eventually walk away with the 74-40 victory.
Hunter led all scorers with 14 points and 8 rebounds on 6-10 shooting. C.J. Cooper finished with 12 points, 4 assists and 0 turnovers, while shooting 4-5 from range. Omega Harris had 10 points, Matt Willms finished with 9 and 8, and Cedrick Lang, Julian Washburn and Earvin Morris all finished with 8 points apiece.
Southern Miss was led by Norville Casey who finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds, but was the only Golden Eagle player to score in double figures. Michael O'Donnell finished with 9 points, and Jeremiah Eason chipped in with 8.
As a team, the Miners shot 57.1% from the field, and a red hot 10-20 from three point range. Southern Miss finished at 30.6% from the field and hit on just 4-19 from deep. Neither team shot extremely well from the line, with UTEP finishing 8-15, and Southern Miss 6-9.
The Miners held a 38-24 advantage on the glass, and had 17 assists to just 11 for USM. They also turned the ball over just 8 times to 10 for the Golden Eagles.
It wasn't a very good return to the Don for former head coach Doc Sadler, but it was sweet for the Miners as this was a much needed response to what was a very uninspired effort Thursday night against Louisiana Tech. The intensity was much better, the execution was there, and it all turned into a run away victory.
This team is talented enough to have an off night and still win against many teams in this league, but it will take efforts like the one tonight to be able to hang with, and beat, the top teams in the conference.
The Miners, who improved to 11-5 and 3-1 on the season, will now have three straight on the road against UTSA, Western Kentucky, and Marshall. They will do well to go 2-1 on that trip, but again, solid efforts could allow the Miners a sweep.
Tipoff for next Saturday's contest against UTSA is slated for 1:00 p.m. MT, and will be carried by the American Sports Network.
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