UTEP shut down Tulane’s top two players and held the Green Wave to 40.4 percent shooting – including 34.8 in the second half – on its way to a 62-50 victory on Saturday at the Don Haskins Center.
The Miners (12-8, 5-2 C-USA) moved into a third-place tie in the Conference USA standings with UCF, which lost earlier in the day at Marshall. More importantly, UTEP picked up a crucial victory on the first leg of a three-game homestand.
“I liked a lot of things about our effort tonight against what I think is a good Tulane team,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “We were so disappointed in our last ballgame. I don’t recall a game where the two primary players on the other team had their way with us, which happened at UAB with [Rod] Rucker and [Jordan] Swing. Tulane’s two primary players tonight, [Ricky] Tarrant and [Josh] Davis, were limited by Julian Washburn and Jacques Streeter, which is really who we have to be.”
Davis, the C-USA leader in scoring and rebounding entering the night, finished with eight points and two rebounds. Tarrant, who was averaging 17.5 points in league play, finished with two on 1-of-5 shooting. No player scored in double figures for the Green Wave (14-8, 2-5 C-USA), which had rolled out to double digit leads at one point in each of its previous four games – including at Memphis on Jan. 22.
This one was over early in the second half. UTEP closed the first period with a 14-5 run to surge to a 34-19 lead. The Miners extended the lead to 21 in the first four minutes of the second half, and led by as many as 23 before a late Tulane flurry cut a 19-point lead down to 12 in the final three minutes.
“I loved the way we handled their press late,” Floyd said. “We didn’t do that very well at UAB. I liked our poise better. I liked the fact we had more than one guy with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio. Generally it has just been Jacques Streeter all year long. The ball moved and it moved out of the post. We had deep post-ups and it came out of the post.”
The Miners recorded 18 assists with only seven turnovers. The starting backcourt of Streeter, McKenzie Moore and Konner Tucker combined for 16 assists and three turnovers. The Miners shot an efficient 48.9 percent and were particularly good in the second half, when they converted on 12-of-21 field goal attempts (.571).
Moore (14 points) shot 6-of-11 from the floor. Julian Washburn (12 points) shot 6-of-9. Tucker (11 points) was 6-of-7 at the line for a UTEP team that got its groove back at the charity stripe (10-of-14, 71.4 percent).
Even reserve Hooper Vint got into the scoring act with a late dunk after coming off the bench for the first time in five games.
“It’s nice to see him get some time,” Floyd said. “He’s just a freshman, and a very young freshman with a redshirt year. We haven’t given up on him, and this was a great opportunity for him to get a little time tonight.”
The Miners will look to build on their 10-1 home mark versus Rice on Wednesday and Tulsa on Saturday. Tip-off for both games is 7 p.m.