The Houston Cougars and UTEP Miners split their regular season series, but the Miners got the last laugh Wednesday night with a win at a neutral site. With their 67-62 overtime win in the first round, UTEP has earned the right to play the No. 1 seeded Memphis Tigers in the quarterfinals of the Conference-USA tournament.
Houston pushed the pace and attempted 15 more shots than their opponents, but were ultimately cost by their poor shooting from outside and their inability to capitalize from the free-throw line. The Cougars were 4-23 from distance and shot just 6-15 on free throws.
Though the game was close throughout, Houston took the lead for the first time with 10:06 remaining in the first half and did not fall behind the Miners until overtime. The last two minutes of regulation were extremely back and forth, and Gabriel McCulley was the catalyst for the UTEP comeback. With his team down 55-51, he made a layup inside and was fouled, then converted the three-point play. TaShawn Thomas was sent to the line on the other end but made only one free throw, extending his team's lead to two points. The teams traded buckets in the final minute with John Bohannon hitting the shot for UTEP that tied the game at 58-58 and forced overtime.
Houston missed four three-point shots and was 0-2 from the free-throw line in the overtime period, as bad shot selection and a failure to convert easy opportunities was their ultimate undoing. UTEP converted on open shots and free throws in overtime, taking what Houston gave them to set up a date with Memphis.