Miners top the West Alabama Tigers 67-46

Miners+top+the+West+Alabama+Tigers+67-46

Aaron Montes / The Prospector

Luis Barrio, Staff Reporter

After a less than encouraging effort against rival New Mexico State Aggies, the UTEP men’s basketball team came out in their Battle 4 Atlantis home game and defeated Division II opponent West Alabama 67-46.

The Miners had four players in double figures. Cedrick Lang had his best offensive output of the season with 11 points and adding 4 rebounds to that. Mackenzie Moore added 12 points and 6 rebounds to the game. Junior guard C.J. Cooper added 10 points.  It was freshman newcomer Vince Hunter who led the way with 14 points and 8 rebounds.

“We did get a little better on defensive transition, better on half-court defense in terms of staying between the man and the basket,” said head coach Tim Floyd. “Our big guys involvement was certainly better.”

The Miners were up 28-20 at halftime and came out in a 10-0 run to go ahead 38-20.

Freshman forward Vince Hunter for second time in a row produced the most points for the Miners with 14.

“Vince is a guy who came in here with expectations. He’s getting a feel for this level. He played very well at NMSU. As you can tell he’s an explosive athlete. He’s using that on the glass and defensive transition and guarding the screen-and-roll,” Floyd said. “I’m really pleased with his retention level and where he is right now.”

Hunter said that his primary focus is to get better defensively this year.

“I’m trying to get a little tougher on defense and get in and get some more rebounds. Our team is getting more comfortable with each other and we all believe in each,” Hunter said.

Local standout Tevin Caldwell started his first game as Miners against the Tigers and showed his coaching staff the impact he can have on a game. His quick hands on defense and tremendous defensive anticipation propelled the Miners to their lead. He added 9 points and 2 steals in the game.

“Tevin really helped us with a guy (Sandy Underwood) that was averaging 28.5 points per game just by not allowing him to catch the ball. He played defense, gave us energy, deflected passes and steals that led to easy baskets,” Floyd said. “Tevin is great. I think he is one of the best defenders on our team. He’s going to do all the dirty work for us. He’s a great ‘glue’ guy for us and we’re certainly glad to have him.”

The Miners forced the Tigers to take 33 shots from 3-point range. They shot 18.2% from downtown and 24.7% from the field for the game.

Against the small team of West Alabama, the Miners owned the paint with a 30 to 10 scoring advantage.

There was questionable point midway through the second half when Coach Floyd called on Junior guard/forward Julian Washburn to check in the game, but Washburn refused.

Coach Floyd said after the game that Julian was having stomach problems.

Senior John Bohannon did not play in today’s game for several important reasons said Floyd.

“I felt like it was important for him to understand his importance for this team. I felt there was no need to put him in. Bo’s attitude has been great; his performance was not what we expected in terms of effort and energy against NMSU. I think tonight will really help him when we play again.”

Despite that, Coach Floyd said after the game against West Alabama that Bohannon will play against Colorado State and have a significant role in the game.

Bohannon talked about looking ahead to Colorado State

“I’m just trying to get back to how I really play and leading this team like I’m supposed to and being aggressive and playing great defense. I feel like coach made the right decision by not playing me,” Bohannon said.

The Miners improved to 2-1 on the season. This home-game marked the first of a three game home-stand for the Miners. They take on Colorado State who was an NCAA tournament team the last two seasons on Tuesday. They will later renew their I-10 rivalry with New Mexico State on Saturday Nov. 23 at the Don Haskins Center, before going to the Bahamas to take play in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

Luis Barrio may be reached at [email protected]