The UTEP Miners (7-6, 0-1Conference USA) lost their first conference game to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (11-3, 1-0 C-USA) on Dec. 30 at the Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. The Miners could not find their footing offensively and struggled on defense in this matchup.
“They are just explosive at all five spots and I think they (UAB) are an NCAA Tournament team,” UTEP associate head coach Jeremy Cox said. “We guarded and were there a few times, but they hit some tough and contested shots. These things can get out of hand in a hurry and to keep it respectful throughout says a lot (about our guys).”
In the start of the first half, UAB took a 5-0 lead. However, the Miners tied the game 5-5 after a 3-pointer from junior point guard Jamal Bieniemy.
Later on in this game , the Blazers would go on to command a 21-2 run to push their lead to 29-12.
Freshman guard Jorrell Saterfield cut down the lead to 29-14, however, senior guard Michael Ertel for the Blazers sank a 3-pointer to put them up 32-14.
The Miners struggled to get a consistent offense going in this contest with the Blazers. UAB took advantage of the struggling offense from UTEP, and pushed their lead to 40-23 late in the first half.
UTEP scored a couple of more baskets before the end of the first half to cut the lead down to 42-28.
At the half UAB led 42-28.
Saterfield led the way in scoring 11 points in the first half , followed with Bieniemy scoring eight points, and grabbing two rebounds. UTEP as a team would shoot 34% from the field , and 46% from the 3-point line.
In the start of the second half, both teams came out scoreless for the first couple of minutes. Then, UAB ballooned their lead to 55-37 at the 13:57 mark.
The Miners wouldn’t go down so easily as they cut down the Blazers lead to 55-43. Unfortunately, UAB went on a scoring run, blowing the doors open. The Miners would go down by 22 before going on a 9-0 run to put the score at 75-62. But that would be the most they could do as time would expire.
UTEP would lose this match up with a final score of 75-62.
Junior guard Soley Boum led the team in scoring with 20 points, followed with Saterfield scoring a career high 15 points in this matchup. Redshirt junior forward Tydus Verhoeven, tallied six points and grabbed seven rebounds.
The UTEP men’s basketball team can be seen back in action in their next game against Louisiana Tech University at 8 p.m. at the Don Haskins Center on Jan. 8.
Daniel Lopez is a staff reporter and can be reached at [email protected]