It was a rough day for the Musketeers as they dropped their first game of the season to the Miners of UTEP. UTEP was led by their star player Vince Hunter who posted a double-double with a stat line of 17/12/1. Hunter was truly a force in this game, especially in the second half, as UTEP defeated Xavier by the tally of 77-73.
UTEP's leading scorer was starting guard C.J. Cooper who put up 22 points in this contest. The Miners looked good all game, especially their frontcourt. Xavier went into the half with a five point lead but the Miners came out with a full head of steam in the second half and did a great job of keeping Xavier's bigs off the glass. They would go on to outrebound the Muskies by a count of 40-31.
Matt Stainbrook fell beneath his average today for both rebounding and scoring. He put up a stat line of 11/6/2 which is not awful by any stretch, but it was not enough to springboard the Muskies to victory. Trevon Bluiett, Xavier's leading scorer, also fell below his average as he posted 13 points in the contest.
Free throw shooting was not exceptional for either team, but the difference in free throw attempts for both sides definitely impacted the outcome. The Miners shot 65.4 percent, making 17-26 from the stripe while Xavier shot 60 percent, making 9-15 from the charity stripe. On a high note for the Muskies, Myles Davis came out and shot pretty well and posted fifteen points after sitting out the game last night against San Diego. The race for minutes at the off-guard position is heating up, expect either Myles Davis, J.P. Macura or Edmond Sumner to get most of the minutes at that spot.
- UTEP is the hands-down favorite to win the Conference USA title this year. So come tourney time, this loss will not blemish the Musketeers' record much.
- It will be interesting to see how Xavier plays offensively the next few games. It is not wise to bank on a freshman to lead the team in scoring night in and night out, unless you're Kentucky, so look for an upperclassman to step up his scoring. My guess is Remy Abell.
- Xavier got outrebounded for just the second time this season and that is a major reason they lost this contest. Expect to see them focus on rebounding and come out wiping the glass clean in their game tomorrow versus either Washington or Long Beach State as well as against Alabama come next week.
- Xavier played and defeated the 49ers from Long Beach State already this year at Cintas Center with a final score of 97-74, so playing them again would not be very frightening.