Julian Washburn notched a season high 18 points, and five Miners scored in double figures as the Miners knocked off the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Saturday night at the Don.
UTEP was hot from the start, knocking down four of their first five shots to jump out to a 10-3 lead just over five minutes into the ball game. They wouldn't be able to stretch the lead any further than that as the Blue Raiders would have the lead down to just three less than a minute later.
A C.J. Cooper three would push the lead back to seven just a minute later, but again MTSU would answer with a 10-3 run that knotted the game at 19 with 10:22 left in the half.
The two teams would trade blows for the next few minutes, but the Miners would continue to shoot hot, and would race out to as much as a ten point lead before taking a 45-38 advantage to the break.
A 10-3 run to start the second half would push the Miners' lead out to 14 at 55-41, and they wouldn't look back from there.
Seven straight by Middle Tennessee around the eight minute mark brought them back to within six at 64-58, but they wouldn't be able to come any closer than that. The Miners would own their biggest lead of the night at 83-68 with 28 seconds to play, and would walk away with an 83-70 victory.
Julian Washburn led the way with a game and season high 18 points on 5-10 shooting, including 4-4 from three and 4-4 from the free throw line. Vince Hunter finished with 17 points, 6 rebounds. C.J. Cooper finished with 12 points, Cedrick Lang racked up a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Earvin Morris chipped in with 10.
Middle Tennessee was led by Reggie Upshaw Jr., who finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Jacquez Rozier had 12 points and 6 rebounds of his own, and Giddy Potts chipped in with 7 points.
For the game, the Miners shot a red hot 50%, including a blazing hot 12-16 (75%) from three, and 27-34 (79.4%) from the line. The Raiders also shot pretty well from the field finishing at 49%, including 33.3% from three, and 68% from the free throw line.
The win improves the Miners to 14-7 overall, and 6-3 in conference play. Middle Tennessee drops to 12-10 and 5-4 in C-USA action.
Overall, it was great win for the Miners. They played with much more desire and flow and obviously, the shots fell. They did a great job capitalizing on free throws, but especially in the first half where they knocked in 17-18.
It was clear that the lack of Matt Willms in the lineup had a big impact on the game, but overall coach Floyd did a great job of running guys in and out, and keeping his bigs fresh.
It also allowed the Miners to play a little quicker with a smaller lineup, something we haven't seen much of. Tonight, it went well for them. That's not to say we're better off without Willms, but it was effective tonight.
Up next, the Miners will hit the road for the Florida swing. First they'll take on Florida Atlantic Thursday at 5:00 p.m. MT, with a visit to FIU coming on Saturday.
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