EL PASO, Texas - Saturday night's UTEP-Rice game at the Don Haskins Center showed us that the back-to-back game format this season will result in high emotions come weekend's end.
Rice used a 12-0 run at the the start of the 2nd half to open a lead that UTEP couldn't quite close as the Miners fell 71-68 in front of a limited crowd at the Haskins Center.
The teams split their Friday-Saturday weekend series, with UTEP winning 101-89 on Friday night.
In a physical contest, the game was tied 34-34 at the break but the Rice run keyed by Max Fiedler, who finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, put the Owls up for good.
Jamal Bieniemy led UTEP (6-4, 2-2 C-USA) with 16 points.
UTEP had a chance to tie the game down 71-68 under five seconds, but the Owls (9-3, 3-1 C-USA) made the strategic choice to foul Souley Boum rather than let the Miners get a potential tying shot off.
As the horn sounded, Rice coach Scott Pera and UTEP coach Rodney Terry appeared to exchange words while the Rice players celebrated on the floor.
UTEP's players retreated back to the locker room immediately following the buzzer, but Pera and his players remained on the court taunting the small amount of fans that had attended the contest.
After the game, Coach Terry wished the Owls would have showed a little more class in victory.
"When you expect to win every game, then you're never surprised when you do win a game. He's been over there for four or five years," said Terry of Pera. They hadn't beaten us, it was like the Super Bowl for their guys."
"It was agreat example for us to show our guys though when you hope to win, and you really won the game, you act that way."
UTEP next travels back on the road for a two-game series with North Texas in Denton, TX.