by The Ball Boy
UTEP Basketball is back! If Friday nights game against Oral Roberts is any indication of the excitement and momentum that is back in the Don then we are in for a fun season. UTEP’s win by 20 points was electrified by the help of the revamped Miner Maniac student section. Huge heads, jerseys, Bo-zilla and blue wigs definitely got the crowds momentum up during the game. Although it was not a sell-out,(8,400 fans) I do expect with more success the Don Haskins will see some sell-out crowds by mid season. The Bringing Back the 80s marketing campaign is a fun theme that has brought nostalgia and community to the Don.
Freshmen Chris Washburn was the surprise hit for the miners. 14 points and coming off the bench helped UTEP come alive in the second half. Despite Washburns early success I do not see him taking Cedric Langs spot because Langs experience and especially with rebounding is going to be a huge factor in Arizona. UTEP claimed a 69-49 victory over Oral Roberts on Friday in both teams’ season opener. The Golden Eagles led 38-37 with but then UTEP went on an amazing 22-3 run which was led by John Bohannon. UTEP led 59-41 with 7:38 left, and Oral Roberts was left in the dust. The miners did not look great at the three point line but they didn’t take many attempts either. This 20-point win gives the miners the exact kind of confidence they need going against an 11th nationally ranked Arizona Wildcats team. Interesting fact about Floyd and that former Wildcat Derrick Williams was originally recruited by Tim Floyd when Floyd was at USC.
This past weekend Arizona struggled a bit with Charleston Southern. An 82-73 victory that didn’t really take off till the end of the 2nd half. An outstanding recruiting class of freshmen had little effect on the outcome of this game. Seniors Mark Lyson and Nick Johnson led the way with respectively 17 and 12 points. The most interesting fact of this game was Arizona being out-rebounded 34-31. This is definitely something the miners had trouble with and could help level the playing field on the boards. Arizonas frontcourt had a difficult time defending the zone. Arizona also had a great three point game, something the miners did not have against Oral Roberts.
In recruiting news:
5-star recruits Isaac Hamilton and Daniel Hamilton have narrowed their schools down to Baylor, UNLV and UTEP. Isaac has been quoted as saying that he will not sign during the fall signing period but will wait till April along with his brother. Recruit CJ Williamson has said that he will take his visit to UTEP on the night the miners face off against NMSU. Should be a great rivalry game with a good crowd to show the recruit how fun playing in the Don Haskins center can be.