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February 10, 2013

Tulsa's Wright Overpowers Miners

EL PASO, Texas - It wasn't exactly the offensive struggle like the first time the two met. Then again, Tulsa didn't have a key post player to ignite them like he did tonight.

D'Andre Wright scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane snapped the UTEP Miners' 8-game home winning streak with a 74-70 win Saturday night at the Don Haskins Center.

UTEP head coach Tim Floyd said the game plan going into tonight was to just play straight man-to-man defense, rather than shutting down his opponent's top scorers. Instead, a dark horse in Wright stepped up.

"We made a star out of D'Andre Wright, didn't really know who the kid was until tonight's game. He had a great game," Floyd said.

Wright missed the last game against the Miners, a 45-42 Tulsa victory, with a lingering left leg injury and surprised the entire UTEP team.

"Wright came in and played a hell of a game. I didn't even know who was before," Chris Washburn said.

That also helped the post rotation of a wounded Golden Hurricane team compliment Kauri Black and Brandon Swannegan. Wright and Black combined for 38 points, despite all three battling foul trouble.

"They were throwing guys at us, messing us up a little bit, but all their guys did different things," Cedrick Lang said.

Lang finished with 15 points and a career-high eight rebounds, Konner Tucker had 17 and McKenzie Moore had 14 and six rebounds off the bench.

With Tulsa leading 45-35, the Miners found a way to get easier shots with a 16-5 run that gave them the lead for the first time since it was 2-0. Moore had six and Jacques Streeter had eight points during the run.

"I think it was an act of desperation so we saw that we needed some kind of offense going. So myself and McKenzie started driving and getting guys threes, big guys layups," Streeter said.

Then, the Golden Hurricane went on a run to seal the game. Tied at 58, Tulsa scored six straight and held off UTEP to end the game.

Moore didn't get the start for UTEP, neither did John Bohannon, who actually sat the entire game. Floyd said both players were in trouble for being late to shoot around and film this morning and "it wasn't the first time."

Washburn and Lang said they knew they'd have to step up with or without Bohannon but are anticipating him back soon and would like him back in the rotation, especially against a team that subbed like this.

"We need Bo back, he'll be back. Bo's a great kid, he's a leader and he'll be back soon," Lang said.

This was the second time Bohannon has not played a game, the last coming against Tulane Feb. 2, and he played just 11 minutes Wednesday against Rice.

UTEP was smothered by the Tulsa defense all first half, as the Miners were held to 25 percent on only six made shots. The Golden Hurricane went 51.9 percent, held a 10-0 advantage in transition and led 35-27 at the half.

"We couldn't guard them. They shot 50 percent from the floor, we were 6-of-24, half our shots were threes, we had nobody with more than one field goal, we'd get it in the inside part of the lane and we had a hard time finishing," Floyd said.

Wright led the way with 14 points by the break, as he almost single-handedly built a double-digit lead for Tulsa.

With the Golden Hurricane leading 18-13, Wright went on to score Tulsa's next 12 points, which expanded their lead to 30-19. It marked just the second time all year UTEP trailed by double digits at home since the Dec. 17 UNLV game.

No Miners had double-digit scoring by the half but Lang did have 10 rebounds.

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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