POSTED: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 11:35pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 - 11:56pm
UTEP 70 East Carolina 56
John Bohannon picked up his third double-double of the season and Cedrick Lang keyed a 9-0 second half run as UTEP toppled East Carolina, 70-56, on Wednesday at the Don Haskins Center.
The Miners (10-9, 3-2 C-USA) moved above .500 for the first time this season while stringing together consecutive wins for the first time in nearly a month. UTEP survived a three-point barrage from the Pirates (9-8, 0-4 C-USA), who went 10-for-29 from long range.
UTEP shot 71.4 percent (15-for-21) from the field in the first half, but took only a four-point advantage (36-32) into the locker room as East Carolina buried six triples and committed only two turnovers in the first 20 minutes. The Pirates took their first lead since the 17:12 mark of the first half, 45-43, on a three-pointer by Paris Campbell with 12:26 to play before UTEP embarked on the 9-0 spurt.
Jacques Streeter's jumper tied the game at 45 with 12:12 remaining, then Lang converted a three-point play to put the Miners ahead 48-45 with 11:06 to go. On East Carolina's next possession, Lang stole the ball from Maurice Kemp and, following consecutive misses by Mike Perez, scored a putback layup to extend the lead to 50-45. Gabe McCulley capped the run with a pair of free throws at the 9:43 mark, putting UTEP up 52-45.
After East Carolina sliced the gap to two (52-50) on a three-pointer by Miguel Paul with 8:25 left, the Miners scored the next five points and the Pirates couldn't get closer than five thereafter.
"We were really scared at halftime shooting 71.4 percent and being up four," UTEP coach Tim Floyd. "You know you're not going to continue that, so what are you going to do when the shots stop falling? I thought coach [Phil Johnson] made some great adjustments when we went high screen and roll. I thought our guys did a phenomenal job of getting that into the game. Cedrick Lang's minutes in the second half were tremendous. We couldn't get a handle on those guys defensively. He really changed it for us with those minutes in the second half with offensive and defensive boards and not allowing any post touches by [Darrius] Morrow, who is one of the better posters in our league."
UTEP shot 52.1 percent from the field and 85.7 percent (18-for-21) from the line while outrebounding ECU 39-19. It marked the Miners' first rebound margin of +20 or more since Dec. 29, 2007 at Texas Southern (59-26).
Bohannon finished with 17 points and tied his career-high with 14 boards. McCulley added 16 points and seven rebounds, while Julian Washburn (12 points) and Perez (10) also scored in double figures.
"The ball is moving for us. We're sharing the ball," Floyd said. "It's a fun way to play and it leads to high percentage shots. It leads to guys getting to the free throw line. When guys are driving it for us, they're looking for the next open guy. They're turning down good shots in lieu of trying to get a great shot, and there's a big difference."
Kemp and Paul scored 14 points each for the Pirates, and Morrow chipped in with 12.
UTEP outscored ECU 40-12 in the paint and didn't allow a second-chance point for the second consecutive game.
The Miners will play three straight road games starting on Saturday at Tulane (6 p.m. MT). UTEP will also play at Houston on Jan. 28 (6 p.m. MT) and at Rice on Feb. 1 (6 p.m. MT) as it seeks its first road win of the season.