College Hoops Wednesday Recap: UTEP Lets One Slip Away

    
December 17th, 2009
In a game filled with runs the UTEP Miners looked to be in good shape up 70-58 with 5:31 remaining. The Miners had just run off eleven straight to take the double-digit lead and with the Ole Miss frontcourt in foul trouble Tony Barbee's team simply had to get to the finish line. But the Rebels proved to be a difficult bunch to put away, with Andy Kennedy's team outscoring UTEP 14-2 to get the game into overtime. From there the Rebels scored nineteen points on their way to the 91-81 victory. Chris Warren, who played a game-high forty-two minutes, led all scorers with 32 points while Randy Culpepper led the Miners with nineteen.

Derrick Caracter had a much better outing in his second game for the Miners, posting an impressive double-double of fifteen points and fifteen rebounds before fouling out in 32 minutes of action. UTEP will look back on this one as the game that got away and the disparity in three-point shooting and the foul line had a lot to do with the result. UTEP was just 6-for-24 from distance while the Rebels finished 12-for-26. At the charity stripe Ole Miss was a +12 on the night while attempting thirteen more free throws.

The Miners also didn't do themselves any favors in the turnover department, racking up twenty-one on the evening. Only six of those came by way of Ole Miss steals while eleven of the Rebels' sixteen turnovers were the result of UTEP thefts. Ole Miss did well to fight back and get the game to the overtime session that they controlled but they had an awful lot of help from the Miners. If UTEP should find itself on the bubble come March they'll remember this night in Southaven, Miss.

Three Key Happenings

1. UAB dominates from start to finish. The Blazers got out to an early lead and didn't look back in Birmingham, dominating Cincinnati to the tune of a 64-47 beating. The Bearcats may have been dealing with some mental fatigue due to that double-overtime loss to city rival Xavier on Sunday night but even with a clear mind it's tough to think that they would have won if that weren't the case. Elijah Millsap took over the game, finishing with 22 points and 15 rebounds and the Blazers controlled the glass as well (47-34 edge). Dion Dixon led Cincinnati with thirteen points on a night in which they shot just 31.7% from the field and 36.7% (22 of 60) of their field goal attempts came from behind the arc.

That can be justified by the Bearcats falling behind by double figures early but it isn't a good sign when Dixon (6 attempts) and Deonta Vaughn (7 attempts) have taken nearly as many threes as Yancy Gates has taken shots (8 field goal attempts). UAB did a very good job of controlling the run of play and not allowing the Bearcats many good looks. In a rush to get back into the game the Bearcats went away from what makes them successful and as a result dug themselves an even deeper hole.

2. What's happened to Illinois State? The Redbirds have now lost two straight following their 7-0 start to the season after falling to Ohio 75-57 in Athens. The Bobcats opened the second half on a 22-7 run to push their lead to 50-30 and the lead didn't go under thirteen the rest of the way. Neither team shot the ball well in the first half but the home team got hot in the second half, making 53.6% of their field goals and 55.6% of their looks from behind the arc.

Why the improvement? The Bobcats were able to find much easier looks while also turning the ball over just five times in the final twenty minutes. Dinma Odiakosa (13 points) was the lone Redbird to score in double figures and Osiris Eldridge scored just two second-half points; that won't get the job done. The disappointing thing about Illinois State's loss isn't the loss itself; it's how quickly things fell apart. They're a better team than the group that played the final twenty minutes at Ohio.

3. South Carolina's win over Richmond is better than many will think. The Gamecocks, who are without two starters due to injury, had their hands full with the Spiders for nearly thirty-two minutes in Columbia. But with the game tied at 52 apiece with 8:10 to go Darrin Horn's team closed the game on an impressive 24-6 run to win going away 76-58. The Gamecocks did their best work on Richmond's Dan Geriot and David Gonzalvez; those two combined for seventeen points on a night in which Chris Mooney's team needed more from them.

The South Carolina pressure defense also forced nineteen turnovers and held the Spiders to 39.7% shooting. They've been overlooked somewhat due to the presence of Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida and Vanderbilt in the SEC East but it wouldn't be a surprise if South Carolina is 12-2 when they begin conference play at Auburn on January 9th.

Top Three Games

1. Oklahoma State 71, Stanford 70: The Cowboys did their best to give this one away despite solid second half performances from James Anderson (28 points) and Obi Muonelo (20 points). But they made sure that Landry Fields didn't get the ball on the final possession and Andrew Zimmerman's miss sealed the road victory.

2. Ole Miss 91, UTEP 81 (OT): See above.

3. Duquesne 86, Canisius 77 (2OT): Bill Clark (17 points, 14 rebounds) and Damian Saunders (10 points, 11 rebounds) both finished with double-doubles for the Dukes and B.J. Monteiro led the winners with 27 points.

Three Notable Performances

1. F Elijah Millsap (UAB): Millsap led the Blazers in their 64-47 win over Cincinnati with 22 points and 15 rebounds.

2. F Hassan Whiteside (Marshall): The freshman posted a triple-double off the bench in the Thundering Herd's beating of non-Division I member Brescia. Whiteside finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds and 11 blocks in just 25 minutes.

3. F Trevor Booker (Clemson): Booker helped lead the Tigers to an 80-63 win at East Carolina with 13 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. He also had three blocks on the night.

Thursday's Best

1. Auburn at Florida State (7 PM) A good opportunity for the Tigers to show that they can be competitive in the SEC West this season with many expecting it to come down to the two Mississippi schools and LSU.

2. Oakland at Seattle (10:10 PM) If you can find this on any kind of television check out Seattle's Charles Garcia, who is one of the nation's most productive forwards so far. 

3. Weber State at UNLV (10 PM) The Wildcats are just 5-4 this season but they have won four straight, possibly making this a tricky game for Lon Kruger's Runnin' Rebels.