UTEP Fends Off SMU For 67-57 Victory


POSTED: Saturday, February 12, 2011 - 9:54pm

UPDATED: Saturday, February 12, 2011 - 10:57pm

Julyan Stone scored all 11 of his points in the second half and turned in a lockdown defensive performance on SMU's Robert Nyakundi as UTEP pulled out a 67-57, come-from-behind win over the Mustangs on Saturday at the Don Haskins Center.

The Miners (19-5, 7-2 C-USA) maintained their perch atop the Conference USA standings while snapping SMU's (15-9, 6-4 C-USA) five-game winning streak. It was UTEP's 14th straight win at the Haskins Center. But like the last three matchups between the state rivals in El Paso, this one went down to the wire. SMU led 36-32 at the half and maintained its advantage until Jeremy Williams knotted the score at 50 on a jumper with 7:20 to play.

With the game deadlocked at 52, Stone buried a three-pointer at the 6:11 mark to put the Miners ahead to stay. UTEP extended the lead to 57-52 on two free throws by Gabriel McCulley with 4:33 left. SMU couldn't get closer than four points the rest of the way, as the Miners scored the game's final six points.

The game-changing run spanned from 7:55 to 4:33 in the second half. UTEP outscored SMU 11-2 during that stretch, turning a 50-46 deficit into a 57-52 lead.

Stone added seven assists and went 4-for-4 at the charity stripe for the Miners, who finished 15-for-19 at the line -- including 13-for-15 in the second half.

After SMU shot 53.3 percent in the first half and canned 5-of-12 three pointers, UTEP buckled down defensively, holding the visitors to 21 points on 8-for-20 shooting (2-for-9 from outside) over the final 20 minutes.

Stone, meanwhile, held Nyakundi -- averaging 16 points coming in -- to one field goal and four points.

The Mustangs did get a big night from Papa Dia, who produced 18 points and nine rebounds, and some unexpected scoring punch from guards Samarrippas and Collin Mangrum, who tallied 12 points apiece.

Christian Polk led four UTEP players in double figures with 18 points, while Randy Culpepper added 14 and Williams 10.

Gabriel McCulley posted eight points and seven rebounds for the Miners.

UTEP will face Southern Miss for the lone time in regular season play on Wednesday at 6 p.m. MT. The game will be televised in El Paso on Time Warner Sports Channel 24.

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