MINERS
UTEP Ends Memphis' 64-Game Conference USA Winning Streak

UTEP forward Arnett Moultrie, left, tries to steal a rebound from Memphis guard Elliot Williams during the second half on Wednesday.

UTEP forward Arnett Moultrie, left, tries to steal a rebound from Memphis guard Elliot Williams during the second half on Wednesday.

Jan. 20, 2010

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Memphis' 64-game domination of Conference USA came to a halt on Wednesday as UTEP ended the Tigers' NCAA record-tying winning streak.

And in the end, it took a bunch of hometown players to deal the Tigers their first league loss in nearly four years.

Memphis natives Randy Culpepper, Arnett Moultrie and Jeremy Williams scored 10 of UTEP's points during a 13-3 run midway through the second half that sent the Miners past the Tigers, 72-67, at the FedExForum.

"This is a big win, obviously, because it is a very good Memphis team, and they have dominated the conference the last four or five years," UTEP coach Tony Barbee said. "That in itself makes it a big win, but in terms of my team, I didn't sell it that way. This just happened to be the next game on the schedule.

"Our goal from the start of the season, one of them, was to win C-USA in the regular season. To do that, you have to take care of your home court and go on the road and steal a couple. Tonight was as good of a night as any to go on the road and steal one."

UTEP (12-5, 3-1 C-USA) trailed 53-50 before the 13-3 run and led 63-56 after it. The seven-point cushion was the Miners' largest of the game.

Memphis (13-5, 3-1 C-USA) pulled within 65-64 with 3:30 remaining, but the Miners made the big plays down the stretch on this night.

They held the Tigers to one field goal over the final 4:24 - a desperation three pointer by Robert Sallie with 49 seconds to play that closed the gap to 70-67 - and Christian Polk closed it out by nailing two free throws with four seconds left.

It was Memphis' first loss to a Conference USA team - in regular season or tournament play - since an 80-74 setback at UAB on March 2, 2006.

It was Memphis' first home loss to a C-USA foe since a 75-74 setback to Louisville in the final of the Conference USA Tournament on March 12, 2005. It was only the Tigers' fifth home loss to a Conference USA team since the FedExForum opened for the 2004-05 season.

Williams posted his first double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds and was relentless on both ends of the floor, collecting four of the team's five dunks - including a highlight-reel jam over the Tigers' Wesley Witherspoon early in the second half.

The 12 rebounds tied Williams' high in a Division I game, originally achieved at Oklahoma when he was a freshman at Colorado.

"Jeremy can shoot. He was aggressive from the start," Barbee said. "That is the Jeremy Williams I thought I recruited. We all know how nice of a kid he is, and that is his personality. I have told him all year to have an alter-ego on the court, and he had that tonight and played huge for us. Everybody played huge for us tonight."

Polk added 17 points, Derrick Caracter 14 and Culpepper 13 for the Miners.

Elliot Williams scored 23 points to lead Memphis.

The Miners will play at UCF on Saturday at 3 p.m. MT. The game will be televised in El Paso on KVIA ABC 7. The Knights are 2-2 in league play following Wednesday's 78-71 triumph at Houston.

 

 

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