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November 29, 2012

Washburn Sinks Free Throws for UTEP Win

EL PASO, Texas - After his older brother took control throughout the game, the younger Washburn stepped in, took the hand-me-down to win the game and finish what his sibling started.

Chris Washburn hit the go-ahead free throws with five seconds remaining and the UTEP Miners defeated I-10 rival NMSU 55-54 Wednesday night at the Don Haskins Center.

"I was just thinking, 'don't miss.' I could either win the game or lose the game," Washburn said. "I was blessed to make them so I just went to go try and knock them down."

Washburn's free throws capped a 5-0 run over the final 1:34 after the Aggies seemed to have a comfortable lead at 54-50.

John Bohannon missed the jumper on the ensuing UTEP possession but NMSU turned the ball over when C.J. Cooper came up with the steal on Bandja Sy.

UTEP used up much of the clock on their ensuing possession but it paid off when Bohannon hit a layup, was fouled and hit the free throw to cut the lead to one at 54-53 with 26 seconds remaining.

"Bo's and-one was a big play. We wanted to go to the block and get something deep," head coach Tim Floyd said. "But our real concern was that we only had (four) team fouls and we were under 45 seconds on the clock."

After intentionally fouling once with 1:14 left, Tyrone Watson then inbounded the ball off Julian Washburn's back to get the ball in play. He then dribbled up court and turned it over when he was called for double dribble with 24 seconds to go.

"I think we could have managed it different at that point. We had a lead so that's one where you maybe dribble it out, get fouled, get spacing," NMSU head coach Marvin Menzies said. "At that point, you want to get to the foul line."

Get 30 Days Free!With five seconds remaining, Bohannon missed a jumper but Chris Washburn was there for the offensive rebound and was fouled by Tshilidzi Nephawe to put him on the line to shoot two.

Then came the emotions not only for Chris Washburn but from his brother and coach. Floyd said he wasn't too comfortable with Chris Washburn at the line but he proved him wrong.

"I don't think he's made one in practice and I wasn't feeling real comfortable with him up there but we will the next time he gets up there," Floyd said.

Julian Washburn said he was confident in his brother, just like Chris felt.

"I just told him to shoot with confidence. I knew they were going to be big shots and those moments he dreamed about growing up," Julian Washburn said. "I knew he wasn't going to miss them so I wasn't even worried."

Chris Washburn hit both and NMSU's leading scorer Daniel Mullings missed a three at the buzzer that hit the backboard and front of the rim that would have won the game.

Mullings did not start as he had his jaw wired prior to the game, according to head coach Marvin Menzies, and was replaced in the lineup by Renaldo Dixon. Mullings made his first appearance early in the game and played 27 minutes off 3-of-6 shooting for seven points and six rebounds.

UTEP shot 46.3 percent from the field, just slightly better than NMSU but held the Aggies to 38.1 percent in the second half after a 50-percent performance in the first. Floyd said that may have to do with him switching Julian Washburn from Sy to Watson in the second half, who scored all 13 of his points in the first half and missed all three of his attempts in the second. Washburn also did it on the offensive side with 20 points off 8-of-13 shooting, while playing the entire game.

"(Floyd) wanted me to just lock in on (Watson), make sure he didn't score and he didn't score anymore," Julian Washburn said. "Coach wanted me to send him to his left hand because he went right most of the time but I felt like I did a great job."

William Vega can be reached at show@minerillustrated.com or you can follow him on Twitter at @WillVega21. Make sure to follow Miner Illustrated on Twitter at @minermaniac for more up-to-date news and information about UTEP.



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