UTEP men’s basketball starts the season with an easy win


Courtesy of UTEP

UTEP senior forward Bryson Williams throws down a thunderous dunk on an aggreisive break to basket against the University of Texas at Permian Basin Nov. 26.

Michael Cuviello, Sports Editor

The UTEP Miners led from wire to wire Wednesday night in a 100-81 victory over Division II opponent, the University of Texas at Permian Basin(UTPB) Falcons, with minimal turnovers and balanced scoring. 
“The surreal part for us is that we’re actually getting a chance to play,” third-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We were unsure, uncertain that we were going to play a season, and now we’re actually getting a chance to play. It’s a season where we don’t start off with an exhibition game, and we didn’t have a controlled scrimmage. So, it’s your first game and you’re trying to figure your team out.”  

Sophomore guard Keonte Kennedy made his Miner debut, scoring the first basket of the game within seconds of the opening tipoff. The Miners went on to score the first six points of the game. After six minutes of play, the Miners had stretched out to a 20-9 lead on a junior Souley Boum layup 

Transfer sophomore Kristian Sjolund made his presence known early in the game, scoring almost immediately with a forceful dunk off a clean pass from Boum. Sjolund followed that up two minutes later with a contested 3-pointer  that extended the Miner lead to 14 points. UTPB fought back with a 3-pointer from freshman guard Wesley Hayes that cut the Miner lead to seven points. This would be the last time that the Falcons would be within 10 points of the Miners 

Back to back 3-pointers from transfer sophomore guard, Adam Hess increased the Miner lead to a gamehigh to that point 19 points. Junior forward Efe Odigie then scored in the paint to put the Miners up by 20 points with four minutes remaining in the half. 

Jamal Bienimey, a junior transfer guard from Oklahoma, then closed out the Miners’ half with an open 3-pointer that gave the Miners a 61-43 halftime lead. For the half, the Miners shot 62% from the field and 50% from the arc but struggled on 4-10 shooting from the charity stripe. 

About a minute into the second half, UTPB closed the scoring gap to 15 points, which would be the closest that the team would get to the Miners the rest of the night. At about the halfway point of the second half, the Miners cruised after an Odigie jumper that put the Miners up by 26. 

The Miners were still holding onto a 25-point lead with about three minutes left in the game when the Falcons started to succeed against the Miners secondstringers. After cutting into the Miner lead and making it a 17-point game, the Falcons could get no closer as UTEP closed out the game 100-81. 

Boum led the Miners in scoring with 23 points along with four assists and two steals. Constantly attacking the ball and stepping back to make clutch 3-pointers Boum was a constant threat to the Miners’ score 

Six Miners finished in double figures scoring, including four transfer players. Kennedy finished with a doubledouble with 16 points and 10 rebounds. An active presence all night for the Miners Kennedy also logged the most minutes with 29.  

New starting point guard Bienemy paced the team with three steals and proved an effective floor general for the night. Bienemy had 12 points but struggled from the 3-point line going one of six. Bienemy also provided five rebounds and led the team with nine assists as well as three steals. 

“Jamal’s a good player,” Terry said. “There’s a reason he started two seasons at Oklahoma. He was a steady glue guy for those guys, a guy who could steady the ship, a really low turnover guy. 

“The thing we try to challenge him here, we didn’t want him to be that same guy. He’s a guy who can score, he can do more, he can be a vocal leader. That’s why he chose to come here, to do more.” 

Sharpshooters Hess and Sjolund scored 11 and 12 points, respectively. Hess made all three of his 3-point attempts and Sjolund made two out of his three.  

UTEPs lone senior on the court expected all-conference player Bryson Williams had a very efficient night on 6 of 11 shooting, scoring 14 points and seven rebounds. 

Overall, the Miners made minimal turnovers on the way to an easy victory over a team that had zero chance to compete with them. With all the newcomers, this was a game that was important to see how the players would react to playing with each other for the first time. The Miners ended the game with only 10 turnovers. Free throw shooting was a prominent sore spot as the team only made 10 of 19 on the night. As a team, the Miners shot 52 % from the field and 37% from the 3-point line. 

Senior guard Jordan Horn paced the Falcons with 26 points but he and his teammates struggled shooting from the arc and were unable to keep the game close. Horn also paced the Falcons with four steals. Surprisingly, the Falcons were able to rebound the much bigger Miners 30-29. 

The Miners will take the road to take on perennial Pac-12 Power Arizona  4 p.m. Sunday, Nov.29 in Tucson. Arizona. 

Michael Cuviello may be reached at [email protected]