Kedren Johnson scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half, and Vanderbilt had a 19-0 run in the first half en route to a 73-49 win over UTEP on Sunday in Orlando.
The Miners concluded the Old Spice Classic with a 0-3 record while facing teams from the Big 12, ACC and SEC.
“This basketball team needs to get home and we need to go to work,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “We need to practice. We need to get better and we need our home crowd. It has been a long time since we’ve been home.”
The good news for the Miners (1-4) is that they will have plenty of time to practice as they play just two games in the next 21 days. They will also start a season-long six-game homestand against I-10 rival NM State on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT. The Miners won’t leave El Paso again until Jan. 1.
When Jalen Ragland hit a three-pointer 30 seconds into Sunday’s game, UTEP had its first lead since the season opener versus Oral Roberts. The Miners led 7-1 less than two minutes later, and were still ahead 12-9 before the Commodores began their 19-0 spurt. Six and a half minutes later, Vanderbilt was up 28-12, and the game was effectively over for a Miner team that has had a dickens of a time putting points on the board this season.
The Commodores (2-3) led 33-17 at the half, matching their scoring output for 40 minutes versus Marist on Friday.
“I don’t like our fight and our lack of resolve right now,” Floyd said. “We gave up 73 [points] to a team that scored 33 in their last outing. It’s unacceptable. We’re making too many mistakes, and that’s across the board in terms of our ball handling. We’re just not valuing the ball.”
Vanderbilt scored 17 points off 20 UTEP turnovers. The Commodores had as much difficulty scoring as the Miners in their first four games, but they exploded for 73 points on Sunday – more than 17 above their season average. Vandy also shot 51 percent from the field and 47.4 percent (9-for-19) from three-point range.
John Bohannon led the Miners with 11 points. Cedrick Lang chipped in with 10 points and seven rebounds.
“I can’t really find many bright spots tonight other than maybe Cedrick Lang’s effort. It was better than it has been. We’re starting to get some good production from his spot, which is real encouraging,” Floyd said.
Lang had tallied eight points and 14 rebounds in the season’s first four games.
The Miners will return to El Paso on Monday afternoon, then get back to working on all facets of the game. There is recent precedent for a turnaround. UTEP was also 1-4 through five games last season, but put together a solid 15-win campaign with victories over Conference USA’s top three teams. In the next few weeks, the Miners will add reinforcements in guards Konner Tucker and McKenzie Moore.
“I’m not going to make excuses about who we don’t have and what we don’t have,” Floyd said. “We’re going to try to get this group that we’ve got better.”