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February 28, 2009NEW ORLEANS, LA. - Tulane built a 16-point second-half lead before holding off a late rally by UTEP and beat the Miners, 86-77, on Saturday at Fogelman Arena in New Orleans.
The Green Wave (13-15, 7-8 C-USA) had a big offensive night, shooting 51 percent from the field, 50 percent from three-point range and 81.6 percent from the line, in posting its longest winning streak of the season at three games.
No one had a bigger game offensively for Tulane than junior guard Kevin Sims, who poured in 22 points -- two shy of his career high -- while shooting 7-for-8 the floor and 4-for-4 from outside.
UTEP (17-11, 8-6 C-USA) led just twice, at 2-0 and 3-2 in the first two-and-a-half minutes. For the second straight game, the Miners shot 20 percent in the first half, as they fell behind 41-28.
Tulane tied its largest lead of the night at 51-35 on a three pointer by Eric Vianney with 17:18 remaining. The Miners were still down by 16, 75-59, with 3:22 to play before a furious 14-2 spurt, capped by a three-point play by Stefon Jackson, cut the gap to 77-73 with 1:12 to go.
The Green Wave's Asim McQueen made two foul shots to put his team up by six points, but Jackson scored again with 59 seconds left to make it 79-75. After Sims committed a turnover, Jackson missed a jumper that could have sliced the deficit to two points, and Tulane's Kris Richard secured the defensive rebound.
Tulane put the game away by going 7-for-8 from the line over the final 48 seconds.
Jackson scored 18 of his 23 points in the second half to pace UTEP. Randy Culpepper scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half. Tavaris Watts added 13 points, including 10 in the first half.
Robinson Louisme scored 15 points in his final home game for Tulane, while Richard added 11 and McQueen 10.
The Miners are alone in fifth place in the C-USA standings with the loss and probably need to win their final two games to have a shot at a top-four seed in the C-USA Tournament. UTEP will host UAB on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. in the final home game for Jackson and Watts. Tickets are $5 (plus $1.50 surcharge) and are available at the University Ticket Center, (915) 747-5234.
The Miners will wrap up the regular season slate at Southern Miss on Saturday, March 7.