CONFERENCE USA BASKETBALL: UTEP AT UAB
The Blazers bounced back with a well-balanced performance on Thursday night. UAB had six different players score double digits in points on their way to an 83-75 home victory over UTEP.
Lewis Sullivan led the team in scoring by tying his season high with 19 points on 7 of 8 shooting off the bench. Guard Nick Darling buoyed the Blazers in the first half with a trio of first-half three-point shots. He scored 17 points on perfect 6 for 6 shooting – including 4 threes.
Chris Cokley struggled early offensively but redeemed himself with a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double night. William “HaHa” Lee had two blocks – including one in the final moments that made him the all-time career leader in blocked shots. He finished the game with 10 points and 5 rebounds.
There are still things to work on for the Blazers. They started the game 1 for 8 from three-point land, and while some of those shots eventually started falling, they still finished the game under 30% from three. That is a facet they will need to add to their game if they want a shot at a Conference USA championship.
The night was an important feel-good moment for a Blazer team that was coming off two tough road losses to Western Kentucky and Marshall – something they will need to ride to some more wins if UAB wants to keep from falling behind too far in the conference standings. They improve to 11-1 at Bartow Arena on the season.The Blazers will stay in Birmingham this weekend. They host the UTSA Roadrunners on Saturday night.
It wasn’t all easy sledding for the Blazers.
UTEP got solid performances from some of their freshman talent. All three UTEP players that scored in double figures were first-year players. Guard Kobe Magee pitched in with 11 points. Trey Gilyard made four three-point shots off the bench en route to 14 points in just 18 minutes of playing time.
The big highlight for the Miners was the play of Trey Wade. The freshman forward finished with a game-high 22 points – including the team’s first 8 of the game. When the Miners led for a stretch in the middle of the first half, Wade’s shot-making ability was the catalyst.
If UTEP fans are interested in finding a silver lining in this loss, it’s the play of these young players. These three freshmen – Wade, Gilyard, and Magee – combined for 9 for 17 shooting from three. The Miners got off to a hot start shooting from long range, but once the shots stopped falling in the second half, the Blazers were able to take over.
A lot of positives tonight going up a C-USA contender on the road that is 10-1 on its home floor. Maybe most impressive is hanging with UAB on the boards. Blazers have a slim edge (35-31) and came in with a C-USA best rebound margin of +8.3 per game.— UTEPMBB (@UTEP_MBB) January 26, 2018
Omega Harris and Isaiah Osbourne disappointed. Harris scored 9 points on 2 for 7 shooting - including 1 for 6 from beyond the arc. Osbourne scored just three points – he shot abysmal 1 for 11 from the field. Center Matt Willms was effective on offense, but got into foul trouble early and only played 18 minutes. He finished with 8 points.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Miners, as they head to Murfreesboro to take on the defending back-to-back champion Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in another tough road test.
Join us next Thursday as beIN SPORTS heads to San Antonio, Texas for the first time. The red-hot Marshall Thundering Herd (14-6 overall, 5-2 C-USA) take their high-flying offense to the Convocation Center to play the UTSA Roadrunners (10-11 overall, 3-4 C-USA) at 8:00pm ET/7:00pm CT.
OTHER SCORES FROM ACROSS CONFERENCE USA
UTSA 51, Middle Tennessee 75
Florida Atlantic 53, North Texas 59
FIU 64, Rice 73