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UTEP men’s basketball drops ninth-straight road loss

Photo courtesy of UTEP Athletics
UTEP men’s basketball goes winless during their two-game road stretch against WKU and Middle Tennessee.

After a dominating home win versus I-10 rival New Mexico State (11-15, 5-6 C-USA), the UTEP men’s basketball team (13-13, 4-7 C-USA) hit the road for two games against the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers (WKU) (19-7, C-USA) and the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (11-15, C-USA 5-6). 

UTEP at WKU: Feb. 15 

UTEP would start the game with an early three-point lead thanks to a jumper and  trip to the free throw line from junior forward Otis Frazier III. However, it did not take long for the Hilltoppers to take a five-point lead off a fast break play from guard Don McHenry four minutes into the first half. 

Following a successful free throw attempt from WKU, which put the score at 17-9, the Miners clawed back into the game thanks to a 6-0 run with 13:50 left in the first half. This put UTEP within two points from WKU. 

WKU would go on a 7-0 streak of its own after a Miner surge extending the lead to nine points. The Hilltoppers continued the streak with the widest margin being 12 points. In the final minutes of the first half, the Miners finally crept back into the game edging a one-point lead at the buzzer. 

The score at the end of the first had the Miners on top 40-39. 

A Hilltoppers’ three pointer would open the second half as the Hilltoppers would dominate the opening moments. The Miners fell behind as the team was unable to score in the opening moments.  

Following the 8-0 WKU drive, the Miners fought back like they had been all night to ultimately tie the game 49-49 in the fourth minute of the second half. 

The Miners would keep the Hilltoppers within five points for most of the half, tying the game up several times, but WKU would keep the game to its benefit. It was at the fifteenth minute that the Miners’ deficit grew. With a trip to the free throw line, the Hilltoppers’ lead grew to nine and would continue to grow to 14 points.  

UTEP took another road loss after four Miners reached double figures in points. Senior guard Tae Hardy led the team in points with 19 followed by Frazier III with 15, senior guard Zid Powell with 12, and junior guard Corey Camper Jr. with 11. 

“It was a 10-round fight,” UTEP Head Coach Joe Golding said after the game. “We have to do a better job in the last seven minutes of getting better shots and getting to the free throw line. Give [WKU] credit, they executed and hit some shots late.”  

UTEP at Middle Tennessee: Feb. 17 

The Miners then traveled to Murfreesboro, TN to face the Blue Raiders after a lackluster performance against WKU.  

Middle Tennessee took an early lead over UTEP scoring 10 points in the first four minutes of the game. The Miners were only down four points and managed to tie the game at 10 points just a few moments later. The Blue Raiders would keep UTEP at arm’s length with the largest lead at only eight points. 

With a half played, the Miners were down 38-32. 

The first ten minutes of the second half continued the momentum of the first with Middle Tennesse in a comfortable position, but around the halfway mark, UTEP tied the score up 48-48. The Miners rode the momentum wave which culminated in a seven-point lead with six minutes left in regulation. 

Yet, the Blue Raiders chipped away at the lead forcing some back and forth between the squads into the final minutes of the second half. Nine lead changes and eight ties were made in this matchup, culminating in a dramatic overtime situation. 

UTEP finished regulation with a score of 68-68. 

The first regulation period resulted in an additional tie with both teams scoring an additional nine points resulting in a score of 77-77. 

To start the second round of overtime, UTEP nailed a three-pointer to give the Miners an early edge. In the final three minutes of the second overtime, Middle Tennessee tied the game once again. Once the Blue Raiders obtained the lead, there was no looking back. 

The Miners would once again lose on the road with a final score of 96-90. 

Hardy led the team once again in points, scoring 24 for the Miners.  The true MVP of the night was Middle Tennessee’s Jestin Porter who scored a whopping 41 points against UTEP. 

“Tough times pass, but tough people last,” Golding said following the double overtime loss. “Our execution down the stretch was really good. We got the ball where we wanted. It was a great college basketball game. Two teams competing and throwing punches back and forth.” 

Moving forward 

After the long weekend the Miners remained winless on the road losing nine straight away games and sitting in seventh place in the C-USA standings. 

Now, the Miners head back to the Don Haskins Center for a two-game stint versus C-USA leaders the LA Tech Bulldogs (18-8, C-USA 8-3) at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22 and the Sam Houston Bearkats (15-11, C-USA 8-3) at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. 

Prior to Saturday’s game, UTEP Athletics will be hosting a pep rally event at 4 p.m. to unveil the statue of former UTEP Head Coach Don “The Bear” Haskins. 

All statistics are provided by Miner Statistics. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela Armendariz is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram. 

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
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