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UTEP Basketball: Guards need to go back and rebound says Tim Floyd

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We knew it was going to be an issue, but the rebounding woes of the past two games have the Miners searching for immediate answers.

Tim Floyd offered up no excuses after allowing NMSU to out rebound UTEP 50-27, 23 of which came from Pascal Siakam.

He instead offered a challenging solution to his back court members.

"We have had our rebounding woes.  We got dominated last Saturday [against Colorado State] and were able to win a ball game."  Tim Floyd said.  "It didn't quite work like that tonight.  Siakam had 23 boards and our team had 27."

"Until that mentality changes with our team, including our guards who need to go back and rebound the ball to help us or we're going to continue to have these kinds of struggles." Floyd added.

UTEP's starting guards combined for eight rebounds, with Earvin Morris being held without a rebound for the first time this season.

In contrast, NMSU guard Matt Taylor led all guards with nine rebounds, and Braxton Huggins added four boards to the rebounding party.

Make it two games in a row that an opposing player goes off for 20 or more rebounds in a game, as UTEP has allowed 30 second chance points in the last two games.

It appears Floyd will challenge his guards to become more active on the boards something senior Earvin Morris acknowledged has to starting happening after the game.

"Going forward we just have to get on the boards more." Morris said.  "We aren't real big because we've had a couple of injuries in the front court, and so as guards we have to come down and help rebound."

Another point of emphasis Floyd touched on after the game was UTEP's poor shot selection.

"I thought our shot selection was very questionable, even early in the game to late in the game," Floyd said.  "We only had three turnovers at the half and I thought, ‘Maybe we have a chance.'  But when we cut it to four a couple of times we came down and turned it over on back-to-back trips, and then we took back-to-back bad shots which are like turnovers.  I credit the Aggies for putting us in those situations."

UTEP only had 10 points in the paint which came sporadically, and the Miners only got to the free throw line 12 times after averaging 29.6 trips in their first six games.

The Miners were 8-of-24 from three point land accounting for 41% of UTEP's points. Although majority of the attempts came off one pass with very little ball movement or dribble penetration that led to kick outs, something UTEP had done consistently well in Corpus.

"I feel like we didn't get to the foul line enough." Hooper Vint said.  "We've been doing that a lot in the past five-to-six games, and we shot a lot of threes"

UTEP also let the game slip away after cutting the lead down to four in the opening minutes of the second half.

Lee Moore's fast break layup at the 17:11 mark cut the Aggie lead to 40-36 thanks to an effective 1-3-1 zone that forced three NMSU turnovers in a row, and three missed jumpers.

The Miners would turn it over five times in the next three minute segment, with only one field goal attempt, as NMSU went on a 6-0 run to grab a double digit lead.

Even though rebounding was the biggest issue, that three minute window was a key missed opportunity in keeping UTEP within a four-to-five point margin heading into the final ten minutes of the second half.

Wednesday was a much needed reality check for this still growing UTEP basketball team.

The good thing is both the coaching staff and players have identified their flaws, but how they correct those going forward now becomes the biggest thing to look out for over the next few games against solid competition.