POSTED: Saturday, February 26, 2011 - 7:10pm
UPDATED: Sunday, February 27, 2011 - 9:22pm
Native Memphians Randy Culpepper and Jeremy Williams combined for 34 points as UTEP beat Memphis for the second straight season, 74-47 on Saturday at the Don Haskins Center.
The Miners (21-8, 9-5 C-USA), who ended the Tigers' NCAA record-tying 64-game conference win streak at the FedExForum a year ago, coerced Memphis into 33 percent shooting this time around. The Tigers also coughed up the basketball 22 times, leading to 22 points for UTEP.
The 47 points were the fewest scored by Memphis (21-8, 9-5 C-USA) since a 50-45 setback to UCLA in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament on March 25, 2006. It was the Tigers' worst loss in C-USA play since a 102-75 pounding at UAB on Feb. 16, 2000.
UTEP scored the game's first seven points, then fell behind 12-9 before embarking on a 10-0 run. The Miners led 33-20 at the half, holding the Tigers to 7-for-25 shooting -- including 1-for-10 from three point range.
Things didn't get much better for Memphis in the second half, as it went 0-for-8 from beyond the arc and was outrebounded 21-14. UTEP mounted a 15-point lead (37-22) in the first two minutes of the period. After Memphis pulled within eight points (41-33) on a layup by Tarik Black with 14:46 remaining, the Miners blew out to a 20-point cushion (54-34) with a 13-1 spurt.
Culpepper (14 points) and Williams (nine) teamed to score 23 of UTEP's 33 points in the opening period. John Bohannon had a big second half with 11 points, part of a 15-point afternoon.
UTEP shot 49.1 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from three-point range and outrebounded Memphis 36-34. About the only thing the Miners didn't do well was shoot free throws (16-for-29), but it didn't matter on this day.
The Miners received 26 points from their bench, including 15 from Bohannon and a season-high nine from Isaac Gordon.
The victory keeps UTEP in the hunt for a first round bye in the Conference USA Tournament March 9-12 in El Paso. The top four teams in the league receive byes, and the Miners kicked the Tigers out of a first-place tie in the league standings with Southern Miss and UAB.
UTEP will close out the regular season with a home game versus Marshall on Wednesday (7:05 p.m.), followed by a road date with SMU on Saturday (1 p.m.). Eight UTEP seniors -- including Culpepper, Williams, Gordon, Julyan Stone and Christian Polk -- will be honored at Wednesday's game.