UTEP Miners vs Air Force Falcons Basketball Recap
UTEP 71, Air Force 54
The University of Texas El Paso Miners defeated the Air Force Falcons by 17 points in one of the final out-of-conference matchups for both squads. The Miners were led by Christian Polk, who hit four 3-pointers, scored 18 points and brought down 4 rebounds. UTEP improved to 11-3, but while this game won ’t hurt coach Tim Floyd ’s club, it has to be said that it ’s not terribly likely that another NCAA Tournament berth will be on the horizon for the Miners.
The reason to temper optimism in the UTEP camp comes from the fact that the Miners did not beat a very distinguished opponent in this game, which was part of the Sun Bowl Invitational at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso. The visiting Falcons from Colorado Springs, perhaps taking a page from the football team that did barely anything on offense in the recently-concluded Independence Bowl, struggled mightily from the field, hitting only 35 percent of their shot attempts. The errant aerial marksmanship by the Air Force roster caused the low-flying Falcons to place nearly 13 points under their season average in the upper 60s. Air Force was led by Tom Fow, who hit three 3-pointers of his own on the way to a 13-point evening. However, if a 13-point outing is the best a lineup can offer, that is a telling indication of a team ’s general punchlessness from the floor. UTEP hammered teams much better than Air Force in its run to the top of Conference USA last season. This victory – against a lower-tier team from the top-heavy Mountain West Conference – won ’t transform the tone, tenor or trajectory of UTEP ’s season. The hard yards and big battles are coming up in Conference USA ’s regular-season slate, which will kick off when January comes across the calendar. UTEP is already saddled with bad losses to the University of the Pacific and Georgia Tech. It ’s going to take some high-value scalps and a first-place league finish to make UTEP a contender for an at-large NCAA invitation.
UTEP had three players score in double figures with Polk, Randy Culpepper, and Jeremy Williams aiding the Miners in victory. The Miners shot the ball well from the floor, scoring on 50 percent of their shot attempts. UTEP also dominated the rebounding margin, grabbing nine more than the Falcons.
The Miners have now won eight of their last nine ball games. UTEP will begin Conference USA play on Wednesday, January 5 against Tulsa. That ’s when we ’ll find out what this team is truly made of.