EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — For the first time this season, UTEP fans got to see their beloved Miners inside the Don Haskins Center and the Miners did not disappoint, hitting the century mark for the second time this season in a 101-89 win over Rice on Friday night.
A total of 459 season ticket holders saw the Miners improve to 6-3 on the season, 2-1 in Conference USA play. It is UTEP’s fourth consecutive home win.
“One thing that been missing this year is not having our community to get a chance to see this group play,” said UTEP head coach Rodney Terry. “My guys have a great competitive spirit about themselves, they enjoy playing and they care. Hopefully we have a good buy-in with the community wanting to get behind this group and support them.”
UTEP set season-highs in points (101), field percentage (54.3), three pointers made (12), and three-point field goal percentage (42.9). The Miners turned the ball over only four times and forced 11 turnovers, outscoring the Owls 26-7 off turnovers.
“Coming into this game, we knew we had to guard hard and get some stops,” said Terry. “The thing we’ve said all year long: if we’re able to get stops and get out and play fast, we’re a handful to deal with when we’re in transition.”
Tydus Verhoeven had 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting had recorded two blocks.
Three Miners scored 20+ points in the win — first time that has happened since 2000. Bryson Williams led the team with 29 points, Jamal Bieniemy added 24 points, and Keonte Kennedy chipped in 22 points. Bieniemy also tallied six assists and Kennedy posted seven rebounds.
“We did a great job of getting out in transition,” said Williams. “We just capitalized on our transition plays. With JB [Jamal Bieniemy] orchestrating the offense — I mean, the guy is a wizard out there. He gets the ball out to wherever he wants to.”
“I think we came out playing fast and we had the right mindset coming out of the gates,” said Bieniemy. “It carried throughout the game and we just kept building on it.”
Max Fielder scored a career-high 22 points and had seven assists for the Owls who fall to 8-3, 2-1 in Conference USA play. Travis Evee added 21 points and Riley Abercrombie had 14 points in the loss.
UTEP’s 101 points on Friday night was the first 100-point game against a Conference USA program since Feb. 4, 2016 when UTEP defeated Marshall, 112-108.
The Miners will host Rice on the back-end of a back-to-back with the Owls on Saturday night at the Don Haskins Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will air on ESPN+.