Cougars Top Miners, 89-68

Sports

POSTED: Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 10:38pm

UPDATED: Friday, December 24, 2010 - 6:44pm

BYU caught fire after a slow start and UTEP went ice cold over the last 10 minutes of the first half, as the 23rd-ranked Cougars dealt the Miners an 89-68 loss on Thursday in Provo.

The Miners jumped out to a 9-0 lead, surprising the Cougars (12-1), who were playing their first game at the Marriott Center in a month. UTEP (9-3) extended its lead to 17-6 on a layup by John Bohannon with 11:06 remaining in the opening period.

Following back-to-back three pointers by Jimmer Fredette and Noah Hartsock, the Miners went ahead 19-12 when Christian Polk nailed a jumper at the 9:30 mark. But UTEP would manage just one field goal the rest of the half – a Polk jumper with 3:52 on the clock – and were outscored 33-9 over the final 10:47.

The Miners made just 9-of-29 shots in the first half, as leading scorer Randy Culpepper was held in check with four points on 1-for-8 shooting.

After UTEP sliced the deficit to single digits (43-34) in the first three minutes of the second half, BYU reeled off seven straight points to forge a 50-34 advantage and was in control the rest of the way.

BYU won for the 26th time in its last 27 home games.

Claude Britten and Christian Polk tied for top scoring honors for the Miners with 15 points, and Jeremy Williams chipped in with 11. Culpepper and Bohannon both fouled out, and Culpepper finished with four points in 28 minutes.

Fredette scored 25 points and Jackson Emery added 23 for the Cougars, who buried 12 three-pointers – including seven in the first half. With BYU firing away from long range, the Miners had a 48-20 advantage in points in the paint.

UTEP had its six-game winning streak snapped in its first visit to Provo since 1999.

Following a brief holiday break, UTEP will return to action at the Bank of the West Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Haskins Center. The Miners will take on Western New Mexico on Tuesday at 7 p.m., and Air Force on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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