UTEP looked like a lost team Thursday night in their first road game outside of New Mexico this season.
A team lost without an offensive identity, lost without a head coach, lost without their leading scorer, who suddenly took a leave of absence, just could not find a heartbeat in their first C-USA road test.
All that stemmed into a forgettable outing, and a 85-75 loss to undermanned Southern Miss that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates.
Four different Golden Eagles scored in double figures led by Dominic Magee who dropped 21 points, and former UTEP commit Tyree Griffin who added 19 points and six assists.
Doc Sadler’s group shot 60.3 percent from the field, and 70 percent in the second half, scoring on 54.9 percent of their 71 total possessions on the evening.
UTEP started the game 1-for-10 from the field, then an Omega Harris deep 3-ball against a USM zone opened things up a bit, but the Miners trailed 8-5 inside the opening four minutes of game.
A 6-0 Southern Miss run stretched the Golden Eagle lead to double digits after a long jumper from the right corner from Magee made it 24-14 USM with just under six minutes left until halftime.
UTEP cut it to 24-20 after a Tirus Smith bucket, but a 11-4 USM spurt to end the half fueled by multiple UTEP turnovers and a 5-for-7 shooting stretch for the Golden Eagles put UTEP in a 35-24 hole at the half.
It took UTEP nearly three and a half minutes to score their first bucket, and finished the half shooting 29 percent from the field, and 2-for-8 from long distance.
UTEP’s offensive struggles in the first half would actually snowball into some poor second half defense.
USM made their first six shots in the second half led by Tyree Griffin who hit a 3-pointer, then completed a 3-point play as USM took a 49-34 lead just four minutes into the second half.
That run would grow to a 12-2 USM run and gave USM a 53-34 lead, Doc boy’s led by 23 points at the 11:29 mark of the second half turning the game into a laugh-er after multiple Miner miscues showed this UTEP team might be in deep trouble.
The Miners actually shot 68 percent in the second half, finishing the game at a 47.4 clip from the field, but 17 UTEP turnovers turned into 17 points for USM off UTEP mistakes.
UTEP made 11 3-pointers, Isiah Osborne hit three of those and led UTEP with 17 points. Harris also hit a trio of trifectas and scored 11 points, while Matt Willms also chipped in 11.
Trey Touchet hit a pair of 3’s and scored 10 points, adding three assists in 22 minutes of action. UTEP out rebounded USM 32-26, but were out scored 36-28 in the paint.
USM picks up their first C-USA win of the season, while UTEP drops to 1-2 and will face LA Tech Saturday evening.