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Second half comeback lifts UTSA over UTEP 71-67

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UTEP melted down in the second half giving up a 15-point lead, Christian Wilson and UTSA made them pay.

UTSA out scored UTEP 38-24 in the second half, overcoming a 10-point halftime deficit to shock UTEP 71-67 Saturday afternoon in San Antonio.

The Miners self destructed from the free throw line with a 10-of-19 performance in the game, and turned it over on 17.9 percent of their of 78 possessions in the game for their third straight road loss.

Both teams came up with a whole lot of iron early on in the first half.

UTEP started 5-of-14 from the field, while UTSA started 4-of-14, but a hook shot from Hooper Vint gave UTEP a 11-10 lead at the under 12 minute media timeout of the first half.

Shots would start to fall over the next five minutes for both sides, but neither team could stretch a lead larger than four as the paced picked up.

UTEP would then get five straight points on two trips via a Hooper Vint step out three, and a Tevin Caldwell fast break layup to push ahead 30-24.

But UTSA would answer with an alley-oop dunk finished off by Phillip Jones to cut the lead to 32-30, although Dominic Artis drilled a three from the right corner putting UTEP back on top 35-30 with three minutes left in the half.

The Miners would finish the half on a 13-5 run after the Jones dunk sparked by Trey Touchet drilling a pair of three pointers in the final 18 seconds of the half, the second a buzzer beater to give UTEP a 43-33 halftime lead.

UTEP shot 53 percent in the first half, while Roadrunners only saw two field goals go down in their final nine attempts of the half.

The run would stretch out to 21-9 into the second half with a Hooper Vint layup putting UTEP up 51-37 in the midst of a three minute UTSA scoring drought with under 15 minutes left in the game.

UTEP's largest lead would be 15-points after a Lee Moore free throw (52-37), then after dominating the first 25 minutes of the game, the Miner melt down ensued.

Christian Wilson scored a career and game high 25 points, leading the UTSA second half charge with a pair of three pointers, his dribble penetration, and flat out speed.

Wilson scored 14 of his points in the second half, and would score eight straight for UTSA to cut the lead to under 10 with a three pointer at the 12:43 mark with UTEP leading 54-45.

Lee Moore put the Miners back up 56-45 with a 12-foot jumper on the next trip up the floor, but then the Miners got complacent, and UTSA took control.

The Runners kicked down the door with a 15-4 run tying the game at 60 with a A.J. Cockrell layup right under the basket off a nice offensive set with 7:03 left in the game.

While up 15, UTEP resorted to lots of isolation on offense, resulting in bad shots with no offensive flow, parlayed with missed chances on defensive rebounds and folded at the free throw line which allowed UTSA to put things away in the final four minutes.

UTEP shot 3-of-8 from three throw line in the final 4:36, and finished the game 2-of-14 from the field, while UTSA made three free throws in the final minute to seal it.

With the game tied at 66 with 3:05 left in the game, UTEP came up empty on three straight trips, including a pair of missed free throws by Earvin Morris with the game still tied and 1:34 left.

Wilson would blow by three UTEP defenders on the next possession after the missed free throws for a layup to take a 68-66 lead.  Then Lucas O'Brien sank two free throws after a Earvin Morris miss from about four feet in attempt to tie things back up which finally sealed the deal.

UTSA out scored UTEP 34-15 in the final 15 minutes, Wilson also led UTSA with nine rebounds and five assists.

Four Miners reached double figures with Hooper Vint and Terry Winn each scoring 12 points, and Earvin Morris, and Lee Moore each adding 11 points.

UTSA dominated the boards in the second half with a +10 margin, winning the battle of boards 43-34, despite 10 rebounds from Vint.

14 points off turnovers were key for UTSA's win, but keeping UTEP out of transition was the much bigger aspect in holding UTEP to just seven fast break points, and a 33.3 shooting percentage in the second half.

UTSA grabs C-USA win number two, improving to 4-14 overall, while UTEP drops to 10-8, and 2-3 in C-USA play.

UTEP returns home from a three game road slide next Thursday against FAU.