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UTEP Basketball: UTEP Falls at Charlotte 88-78

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Charlotte erased a double-digit second half deficit to send UTEP back home with back-to-back road losses.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Braxton Ogbueze scored a game high 24 points, including four 3-pointers that spearheaded a second half run to put UTEP away 88-78 Saturday night in Charlotte.

As expected, offense was a theme in this one and the Miners put up some head turning first half numbers.

UTEP set a school record with a 75% field goal percentage in the opening half, and outscored Charlotte 15-11 during a 5-for-5 stretch from the field in the final 6:36 of the half to take a 47-40 lead into the halftime break.

The Miners largest lead in the first half was nine, as the rabid pace from both teams saw four ties and four lead changes.

Lee Moore would give UTEP a 10-point lead at the 14:58 mark of the second half after he swished a pair of free throws.  But UTEP went away from the paint, and into a scoring drought that allowed the 49ers to close the gap, and take a lead.

Obgueze sparked, and finished a 19-4 run pushing Charlotte ahead 70-65 after back-to-back layups with 8:39 left in the game.

UTEP would go an ice cold 1-of-6 from the field in a three minute span as Charlotte led 77-69, then led 79-71 with 2:36 to go after a pair of free throws by Jon Davis.

Charlotte shot 55.2 percent from the field in the final half, and outscored UTEP 18-12 in the points in the paint department as UTEP couldn't muster up a string of stops to cut into Charlotte's lead down the stretch.

The 49ers were also 18-of-20 from the free throw line in the game, and nipped UTEP on the boards with a 31-30 edge.  Charlotte also out scored UTEP 48-31 in the second half.

Andrien White rained home four 3-pointers and finished with 22 points, Joseph Uchebo added 15 points, and 10 rebounds for Charlotte who moves within a half game of UTEP's sixth place spot in the standings.

Five Miners reached double figures led by Lee Moore who scored 16 points, and grabbed six rebounds.  Earvin Morris added 15 points, Dominic Artis scored 13 points, and Omega Harris chipped in 12 points with a pair of 3-pointers.

Hooper Vint had a strong game off the bench scoring 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting.

UTEP appeared to have Charlotte on the ropes when Moore put UTEP up by 10, but the Miners went 5-for-20 from the floor with seven turnovers in the final 15 minutes of the second half.

Meanwhile Charlotte finished the game 12-of-19 from the field in the same stretch as Ogbueze dropped in two daggers from deep while UTEP was still fighting to cut into the deficit down the stretch.

UTEP scored 30 points in the paint in the first half, but only managed 12 in the second half as they went away from the post, and shot 2-of-11 from three point land in the second half after drilling five 3-pointers in the opening half.

It was definitely a tale of two halves, but poor defense from the opening tip, and a big night from Ogbueze were just too much to overcome on the road.

It's back home for the season finale next Saturday with UTSA coming into the Don.