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Miners starts conference play with a win

UTEP Men’s basketball defeated Louisiana Tech 60-55 at the Don Haskins Center Dec. 17. Photo courtesy of UTEP Strategic Communications

UTEP men’s basketball (7-3, 1-0 Conference USA) hosted Louisiana Tech University (6-5, 0-1 C-USA) Saturday, Dec. 17. The Miners defeated Louisiana Tech 60-55. This is UTEP’s first C-USA opening win since the 2015-2016 season. 

The Miners scored first courtesy of a three-pointer from junior guard Mario McKinney Jr., who made his first start for UTEP. Louisiana Tech took the lead after scoring four straight points. Later, junior forward Jon Dos Anjos scored a two-pointer to put the Miners up by one in the first half, 5-4.  

The game remained a one-point lead until a pass from senior guard Shamar Givance led to an ally-oop by junior forward Calvin Solomon to give the Miners a two-point lead of 9-6. Louisiana Tech answered back with a three to tie the game at nine apiece. It was a back-and-forth battle during the next few minutes, but the Miners shut Louisiana Tech’s momentum down by going on a 7-0 run to bring the score to 21-14 with 7:14 left in the first half. UTEP was able to keep going into halftime, but after a missed shot that was tipped by Louisiana Tech it was able to bring the deficit down to three. At halftime the score was 26-23. 

In the first four minutes of the second half both teams came out swinging. UTEP was able to keep a five-point lead over the Bulldogs after a layup by McKinney Jr. Louisiana Tech was able to cut the lead to one with a three-pointer at the shot clock buzzer. The Bulldogs put up five straight points to bring the Miners’ lead down to three, but UTEP responded with a lay-up and two free throws to bring its lead back up to eight. 

With 3:14 left in the game the Miners lead was up to 10. Louisiana Tech kept fighting and brought UTEP’s lead down to three with seconds left in the game. Sophomore forward Otis Frazier III was able to close out the game with a free throw. 

The final score was 60-55. 

Junior guard Tae Hardy finished the game with a team-high of 15 points for the Miners. Givance had six points, six rebounds and six assists, sophomore guard Carlos Lemus had eight points, McKinney Jr. finished with seven points and Solomon recorded six points, four rebounds and three assists. The Miners shot 44.4 percent from the floor and recorded eight steals.  

“The narrative out there is going to be the free-throw shooting. We need to get better making free throws,” said Head Coach Joe Golding in a post-game interview. “We’re practicing free throws. We’re going to get better at it. We all understand that, but we just beat a really good basketball team and we were 15-37 at the free-throw line. Why did we beat a good team? We got back to who we are defensively. We held them to four threes, 29 percent from the floor and we had some tough plays, multiple effort plays all night. That’s growth for me with our locker room.” 

UTEP will be back at the Don Haskins Center to host the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational Dec. 21 and 22. The Miners will open the invitational with a game against North Carolina A&T at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21. 

All stats and quotes courtesy of UTEP Athletics, 

Katrina Villarreal is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected]  


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About the Contributor
Katrina Villarreal
Katrina Villarreal, Multimedia Editor
Katrina Villarreal is senior multimedia journalism major with a minor in theatre at UTEP. She is going into her second year at The Prospector and is currently the Multimedia Editor. Once she graduates, she plans on becoming a sideline reporter for the NFL or ESPN.  
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Miners starts conference play with a win