UTEP Wins Big; Stone All-Time Assist Leader


POSTED: Saturday, January 15, 2011 - 10:54pm

UPDATED: Saturday, January 15, 2011 - 11:48pm

EL PASO, TEXAS -- Julyan Stone dished out five assists to become the Conference USA career leader, and UTEP held Rice to one point in the first eight and a half minutes of the second half on its way to a 66-43 demolition of the Owls on Saturday night at the Don Haskins Center.

UTEP (15-4, 3-1 C-USA) won its 12th straight home game, the longest string of victories for the Miners in the Haskins Center since they reeled off 15 wins in a row over the course of the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons.

The Miners have reached the quarter point of their C-USA schedule and are tied for first place in the league standings with Southern Miss (13-3, 3-1), which knocked off 23rd-ranked UCF in Hattiesburg earlier in the day.

UTEP had a surprisingly easy time with a Rice team that had beaten LSU and TCU and lost by three points at Texas. The Miners bolted to an 8-2 lead in the first three and a half minutes, built a 28-16 cushion with four minutes to go in the period, then blew the Owls out of the water by opening the second half with a 16-1 run.

Stone tied and broke the C-USA assist record on back-to-back possessions. His fourth helper of the night came on a three-pointer by Christian Polk with 12:47 remaining, and his fifth came on a Jeremy Williams trifecta at the 12:01 mark. Stone has 633 assists, one more than USF's Reggie Kohn accumulated from 1999-2003.

Stone didn't commit a turnover in 30 minutes, and tied for high game honors with 10 rebounds. Stone has had consecutive games with double-figure boards for the first time in his career after snaring a career-high 15 caroms at Tulane on Wednesday.

Williams led the Miners with 14 points, Randy Culpepper had 12 and Polk 11.

The Miners held Rice star Arsalan Kazemi in check as he finished with one field goal and eight rebounds in 19 minutes. Kazemi came in averaging 17.5 points and 11.2 rebounds with 11 double-doubles.

UTEP had a 22-2 advantage in points off turnovers as the Owls committed 16 giveaways to the Miners' seven.

The 43 points tied the second-fewest allowed by UTEP in a Conference USA game. The Miners beat Rice 71-43 on Jan. 12, 2008 in El Paso. UTEP held UAB to 37 points in a 65-37 win on Feb. 8, 2006.

Following a one-week break between games, the Miners will return to action at Houston on Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. MT. Hofheinz Pavilion has been a house of horrors for UTEP in past years, with the Miners posting a 1-5 record in the facility.

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