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WKU mens basketball wins at home against UTEP

Eli Randolph
WKU guard Don Mchenry handles the ball en route to a 25 point showing in WKU’s 90-80 win against UTEP.

After back-to-back road wins, WKU mens basketball dug the UTEP Miners into their own hole Thursday, with a 90-80 home victory.

WKU, a team that picked up two necessary road wins over conference leader Louisiana Tech and Jacksonville State, defeated UTEP just under a month after their six-point loss to the team in El Paso.

The Hilltoppers dominated the first 15 minutes of the first half. With just five minutes left to play, WKU found themselves with a double-digit lead that would be chipped away by the second. A 17-6 UTEP run ended the half and gave the Hilltoppers a hill to climb in the final 20 minutes.  

The first-half charge by the Hilltoppers was led by junior Babacar Faye. The Senegalese forward had six points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in his 11 minutes of play. The WKU offense was also led by Don McHenry. In his 16 minutes of play, the guard had eight points, three rebounds, and an assist.

The Hilltopper attempt to stop Tae Hardy, the UTEP guard who sits at fourth place in Conference-USA for points per game, was to no avail. His 10 points and three assists on 40%  from beyond the arc was the primary factor in the Miners’ 40-39 halftime lead. 

Team First Half Statistics: 

WKU: 15-30 FG, 1-6 3FG, 8-13 FT | 21 Rebounds: 17 Defensive, four Offensive.

UTEP: 14-35 FG, 4-15 3FG, 8-10 FT | 20 Rebounds: 14 Defensive, six Offensive.

The Hilltoppers opened the second half with short-term memory, but were quickly met with a familiar foe. A 7-0 run accompanied the Hilltoppers out of the tunnel, but a 13-5 UTEP streak quickly followed. 

However, the lead stayed with the Hilltoppers through the majority of the second half, reaching heights of up to 14. Ultimately, WKU settled for a ten-point win, as they defeated the Miners, 90-80.

“My gut, right now, does not tell me that we were the tougher team,” Lutz said, “I get it. We won, we scored 90 points, but in the second half we gave up eight offensive rebounds and those eight were probably in the first six to eight minutes of the half. We gave them opportunities to get back in the game, and we have to be better than that.”

McHenry once again was the man on fire for the Hilltoppers. His 25 points, five rebounds, and five assists was pivotal in the Hilltopper homecoming win.

UTEP’s Hardy did what he does best as well. His 19 points accompanied four assists and three rebounds on 43% from the field

Full Game Statistics:

WKU: 34-60 FG, 6-17 3FG, 16-22 FT | 40 Rebounds: 34 Defensive, six Offensive.

UTEP: 29-70 FG, 8-29 3FG, 14-25 FT | 38 Rebounds: 24 Defensive, 14 Offensive.

WKU will look to keep rolling on Saturday, when they host the New Mexico State Aggies at 2 pm CT.


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