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UTEP Basketball: Miners' slow start helps ODU roll 74-53

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UTEP got too far behind in the first half, making a second half run a moot point.

Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

Its been awhile since UTEP has gotten off to a cold start, but Thursday night a cold start would end up burying the Miners.

The Miners started off the game 2-of-14 from the field thanks to the Monarchs taking away driving lanes which limited UTEP to 35.1 percent shooting from the field in the game, and snapped UTEP's six game win streak in a 74-53 whooping.

Three Monarchs scored in double figures as ODU shot 47.5 percent from the field, and owned a 51-26 advantage on the boards for the game.   They took the drive away from the Miners drive and kick offense, and did a good job of closing out shooters making offense fairly difficult for UTEP throughout the night.

Brandan Stith led the Monarchs with 16 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks, Zoran Talley also chipped in 16 points, while Trey Freeman finished with 14 points.

It would take UTEP exactly four minutes to get on the board after an 0-of-6 start from the field.

Meanwhile all of ODU's starters would score in the first four minutes, helping the Monarchs power their way to a 17-2 lead after a turnaround jumper in the lane from Zoran Talley at the 14:18 mark of the first half.

UTEP would shoot 26.9 percent from the field in the first half, which allowed ODU to own a 27-11 rebounding margin, and a commanding 35-18 lead at halftime.

The Monarchs continued to hold a double digit lead in the first 11 minutes of the second half, and led 54-39 at the 10:33 mark of the second half after Stith split a pair of free throws.

But then Tim Floyd went to a tricky full court press, and the Miners finally made their second half run.

Trey Touchet would knock down a pair of free throws, then he would get inside the paint for a left handed layup to trim the lead 55-48 with 7:56 to go in the final half.

Terry Winn would make it six straight for UTEP by splitting a pair at the free throw line, then he muscled one up over Stith right at the rim to bring UTEP within four trailing 55-51 with just under six minutes to play.

During the win streak, UTEP has been able to string together stops to either close out a team, or finish off a comeback to close in on a deficit, but none of that would happen in Norfolk.

ODU would finish the game on a 19-2 run after Winn's bucket, including 15 straight points in the final five minutes, as the Miners went scoreless in the final 5:13 to drop to 9-7 in C-USA play.

Omega Harris was the only Miner to reach double figure scoring numbers with 11 points, Dominic Artis, Lee Moore, and Terry Winn each scored nine points.  Touchet finished with eight points off the bench.

UTEP just could not keep the Monarchs out of the paint as they outscored UTEP 47-30 from inside the lane, and were shutout in fast break points with ODU holding an 11-0 advantage there.

ODU's physicality on defense, and dominance on the glass due to UTEP's rim clanking shooting performance were just too much to overcome.  For the first time since UTEP's switch to a four guard look, a bigger team simply manhandled UTEP on defense, and drove past the Miners for easy buckets.

Ball movement was also stale once UTEP cut the lead to within striking distance, playing right into ODU's defensive game plan despite only 10 turnovers committed by UTEP.  UTEP was also 4-of-20 from behind the three point line.

The East Coast road swing continues Saturday at Charlotte at 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time.