Strong second half lifts UTEP over New Mexico 77-69
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Behind a 16-1 run over the first eight minutes of the second half, Texas-El Paso built a big lead en route to a 77-69 win over New Mexico on Sunday.
Keonte Kennedy equaled a career-with with 22 points and eight rebounds to lead UTEP, and Souley Boum added 26 points, including 13 of 15 from the foul line.
Although the Lobos (6-5) immediately responded to that second-half run with an 11-1 surge of their own, the Miners (5-4) tacked on a 9-0 spurt toward the end of the half to put the game out of reach.
Javonté Johnson led New Mexico with 16 points and nine rebounds.
The game was an ugly affair with teams combining for six technical fouls.
Missing point guard Jamal Bienemy to a concussion, the Miners put Kennedy on the ball.
“I thought Keonte was terrific, put in the position that he was put in,” Texas-El Paso coach Joe Golding said. “And I thought our guys executed. We had better ball movement. Offensively, we were able to get into the paint a little bit.”
Defensively, the Miners were stout, as well, holding top Lobos scorers Jamal Mashburn Jr., and Jaelen House to 3 for 19 from the field.
“We tried to take some things away from New Mexico,” Golding said. “We knew House loved to slip ball screens and we knew Mashburn likes to back you up and take you downhill. And I thought we did a good job early on on those two, making it rough. Anytime you let good scorers get comfortable early, it’s a long night.”
UTEP: The win for the Miners ends a two-game losing streak and will give them much-needed momentum heading into the back end of the non-conference schedule.
NEW MEXICO: With the loss, New Mexico continues its uneven play of late, having lost 4 of 6. The Lobos are desperately trying to find some consistency heading into the holidays.
THIS AIN’T KANSAS
The Miners were coming off a tough 78-52 loss Tuesday at Kansas, when the Jayhawks ball movement had the Miners running ragged chasing passes.
New Mexico continues its month-long slate of home cooking Sunday against SMU, followed by a final Mountain West tune up against Norfolk State before getting into conference play Dec. 28 against Colorado State.
Texas-El Paso returns home for a three-game homestand, starting with McNeese State on Thursday, followed by the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational that also includes North Carolina Central, Bradley and Sam Houston State.
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