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UTEP basketball: UTEP smothers Old Dominion 62-47

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The Miners displayed their best defensive effort of the season putting on a 62-47 defensive clinic against Old Dominion.

From the opening Old Dominion possession of the game and for the entire 40 minutes UTEP smothered the Monarchs, and then smothered them some more en route to a 62-47 win Saturday night.

Three Miners scored in double figures as Julian Washburn and Earvin Morris each scored 15 on the night, and C.J. Cooper had another strong floor game chipping in 12 points, three rebounds, with no turnovers in 24 minutes.

As expected, the game started off as a defensive slug fest as both teams played to a 9-9 tie in the first seven minutes of the evening.

UTEP contested ODU into a 4/14 start from the field, allowing the Miners to break up the tie with a 9-2 run after Omega Harris finished a fast break chance with an electric open floor layup, foul, and free throw to put UTEP up 18-11 with 7:37 left in the first half.

Washburn scored nine of his points in the first half, and tipped in a fight for a loose rebound at the halftime buzzer to give UTEP a 28-19 halftime lead.

C.J. Cooper and Jonathan Arledge traded three pointers to open the second half, then Earvin Morris converted three free throws after being fouled from behind the three point line with the shot clock running down to put UTEP up 34-22 just three minutes into the second half.

Aaron Bacote would later drill a three to give ODU some much needed momentum, but UTEP got back-to-back layups from Cedrick Lang and Vince Hunter pushing the UTEP lead to 38-25 with 14:26 left.

ODU shot a rim clanking 30.8 percent from the field, and 3/16 from deep. Washburn frustrated ODU's leading scorer Trey Freeman into a 3/9 outing from the floor, holding him to only six points.  Washburn was also a sharp 6/8 from the field himself, and picked up three steals on the night.

Arledge led ODU with 17 points, and Aaron Bacote added 11 points, ODU was 12/20 from the free throw line as well.

Bacote hit a pair of free throws to cut the UTEP lead to 48-42 with 3:02 left as the Miners went on a more than three minute scoring drought.

Free throws became as small issue during the next stretch of a about a minute or so, but the Miners continued to frustrate the Monarchs into bad shots, and made their last nine from the free throw line in the final 1:06 to grab sole possession of second place in the C-USA standings.

UTEP held a slim 35-34 advantage on boards as Vince Hunter added nine to that tally, to go along with seven points and three assists.

Cedrick Lang turned in another inspiring performance, earning a standing ovation after fouling out, adding and an important eight points, eight rebounds, and three assists.

With both Western Kentucky, and UAB falling on the road, UTEP moves into sole possession of second place behind LA Tech via their 100th C-USA regular season win since joining the conference in 2005.

After the game coach Floyd gave assistant coaches Bob Cantu, and Phil Johnson major credit in the Miners' defensive game plan, as UTEP contested almost every ODU look, and forced 11 Monarch turnovers.

UTEP wins their sixth straight and improves to 18-7 overall, with a 10-3 C-USA mark, and will host UTSA next Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in the Don.