Culpepper hits 7 3s, UTEP downs SMU 71-49 in first-round

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Randy Culepper scored 25 points, matching a UTEP record of seven 3-pointers, to lead the Miners to a 71-49 victory over SMU in Wednesday’s opening round of the Conference USA tournament.

Culpepper, who averages 12.4 points a game, fell one short of the C-USA tournament record for 3s. His trio of shots outside the arc in the middle stages of the second half built the UTEP lead to 17. The Miners (18-12) will face third-seeded Houston in the quarterfinals Thursday.

No. 6 seed UTEP scored the first six points and never trailed. The Miners closed the half with a 13-5 rally sending them to intermission with a 37-22 lead. Culpepper, who hit four of his first five shots, already had three field goals from outside the arc at the break, leading the way with 11 points.

The Mustangs were stymied by 33 percent shooting in the half and 13 turnovers.

The 15-point halftime advantage matched UTEP’s biggest lead at that point. The Miners eventually would lead by as many as 24.

Marvin Kilgore had 14 points for UTEP. Stefon Jackson, the Miners’ leading scorer at 24.4 points a game, was held to 10 on 4-of-12 shooting as SMU focused on shutting him down with a variety of defenses.

Bamba Fall had 13 points for the Mustangs (10-20). Jon Killen finished with 10, and the Mustangs and coach Matt Doherty missed the quarterfinals for a second straight year.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
Bamba Fall Bamba Fall
4-6,  13 Pts
5 Rebs, 0 Assists
Randy Culpepper Randy Culpepper
9-16,  25 Pts
3 Rebs, 0 Assists

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Wednesday, Mar 12