EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- All preseason UTEP Men's Basketball head coach Joe Golding has said that this is the best team he's had in his three seasons here - there's more team chemistry, talent and that gritty mentality. All of it was on full display on Monday in the Miners 89-76 win over UC Santa Barbara.
UTEP entered the game with a 2-0 record where they put up back-to-back 100+ performances, but both of those wins came against non-D1 teams.
Monday was the Miners first real test against a quality opponent. UCSB has been to the NCAA Tournament twice in the past three seasons but on Monday they were without their star player in Ajay Mitchell.
The Miners got out to a five point lead early in the game but the Gauchos quickly cut the deficit and took as much as a six-point lead. UTEP with the help of 17 first half points from Zid Powell tied the game up at 44 at half time.
UTEP came out firing int he second half going on an 8-0 run and the Gauchos were never able to get back into it.
Powell finished with a tied game-high of 23 points. While Tae Hardy, the driver of the second half scored 19 and had 8 assists Calvin Solomon finished with a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
The Miners put up 89 points with only nine of them coming from beyond the arc, they shot 54% from the floor and 58% from the line.
UTEP now move to 3-0 to start the season and will finish out their four-game home stand by hosting Austin Peay at 7 p.m. MT on Friday.