Slow start dooms UTEP in 18-point defeat to LA Tech

UTEP

EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – Same old story; same old song and dance for UTEP.

24 hours after looking like a Conference USA juggernaut in a wire-to-wire victory over Louisiana Tech, the Miners came out flat and never led as the Bulldogs took down UTEP 73-55 on Saturday night at the Don Haskins Center.

“You have to come out and set the competitive spirit you want from the very beginning and that’s what LA Tech did,” said head coach Rodney Terry. “Until we get that where we’re consistent, we’ll struggle with the back-to-back situations until we’re able to put that together as a team.”

LA Tech (12-5, 5-3 C-USA) lit up the scoreboard early, leading by as many as 16 points in the first half. Thanks to 23 points from Souley Boum, UTEP (7-7, 3-5 Conference USA) was able to the deficit to just 9 points at halftime, and a flurry to open the second half got the Miners as close as four.

However, the Bulldogs went to work from there, holding the Miners without a field goal for almost nine minutes of game action. On the other end for LA Tech, Isaiah Crawford scored 25 points to help the Bulldogs get the win.

For the fourth straight weekend in C-USA play, UTEP struggled in the second game of the back-to-back slate. The Miners are just 1-3 this year in game two of the weekend series.

“They wanted their vengeance and we didn’t match their energy. You can’t give 20 minutes up in college basketball, especially in conference play,” said Boum. “We tried to claw our way back in but you have to come out, be consistent and play hard like we did the first game. We do that, we would’ve won the game, easy.”

With the defeat, UTEP’s 3-5 C-USA record has them tied with Southern Miss and UTSA for last place in the league’s West division.

UTEP will play at UTSA on Thursday, Jan. 28 with tipoff set for 5 p.m. MT. UTEP and UTSA will meet again on Saturday, Jan. 30 with a tipoff set for 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center.

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