UTEP cruises past Florida International 84-71


Michaela Roman

Junior point guard C.J. Cooper has scored more than 10 points per game in eight of the last nine Miners games.

Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter

After a heart breaking loss on Thursday, the Miners came back with a 84-71 win over the Florida International Golden Panthers in front of their biggest home crowd of the year at 11,176.

Contrary to the game against Florida Atlantic, the Miners were locked in on defense in the first half, holding the Golden Panthers to 21 points and 30 percent shooting from the field. The Miners went into halftime with an 18 point lead, with their most complete half of basketball this season.

“We played inspired defensively in the first half,” said head coach Tim Floyd. “We really did a great job in all areas. It might be our best half of the year. Defensively and offensively the ball movement, playing through the post, and shot selection.”

One of the reasons why the Miners had a huge lead going into halftime was junior guard Julian Washburn. The Duncanville native, had a career in points for a half with 15. Washburn finished the game with 20 points on eight for 11 shooting and a perfect four for four from the three-point line.

“Julian Washburn was terrific,” Floyd said. “That’s as good as he’s played since he’s been here. Very good in the first half.”

As good as the first half was, the Miners turned in one of their worst second halves this season. Florida International turned in 50 second half points. At one point the Golden Panthers cut the UTEP lead to seven in the second half.

Capitalizing on UTEP fouls and turnovers were the key to the Golden Panthers success in the second half. The Miners committed 12 turnovers and personal fouls in the second half.

“We were committing turnovers, we weren’t getting back on defense. We gave up 50 points, but we’ll fix that mistake for the next game,” Washburn said.

With the win tonight the Miners are in a three-way tie for first place at 9-2 in conference play. The Miners do have the upper hand over Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee State, in case of a tiebreaker with wins over both teams.

The Miners will now head on the road to play against Tulane (Feb. 20) and Southern Mississippi (Feb. 22). The two game road trip will be the start of the Miners last five games, with four of them being on the road.

“We have to big road games coming up,” said junior forward Cedrick Lang. “You always want to win on the road. It’s going to take great defense, and playing together. If we do what we did in the first half, we’ll be alright.”

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]