UTEP lost traditionally at Tulsa Wednesday, 59-48. Tulsa broke open a close game late.
Here's the bottom line: UTEP's "froshsophs" can't be expected to, literally, have their feet placed correctly when playing 1) a home team and, 2) a more-veteran team. Young traditionally loses to wily vets, especially on the road.
It started early. Only a minute and a half into the game, UTEP's big man, 6-foot-11 John Bohannan, already had two fouls. Tulsa has two big guys - vets - too. But it was an early hack-shove against Bohannan. And UTEP's other top inside guys, frosh Cedric Lane and sole senior Gabe McCulley were having to play under the circumstance of too many fouls most of their minutes on the floor. Advantage older, big-guy Tulsa.
I thought that was a key for Tulsa. But it was also a game where UTEP missed some of the few inside shots it got, and the Miners were mysteriously short on many perimeter shots. No, no, no. Not tired. Just one of those nights.
Both teams are now 8-9 overall and 1-2 in Conference USA. UTEP is young. Tulsa fans are said to be all over their coach, a reason fewer than 5,000 fans showed up. Tulsa still trumped.
Tulsa is no great shakes this year, just like Houston. But the good news is that the UTEP basketball program will, by next season, be beating teams like these. UTEP, so young, remains on the way up. The indication, yet again, was that the young Miners were in the game ... almost all the way.