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January 9, 2008Victor Ramalho recorded his first double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) of the season, which helped lead his team to a 79-66 win against SMU (6-8, 0-1 C-USA) at the Don Haskins Center.
"It was a great win," Ramalho said. "It's like I say all the time, winning in college is really hard. I stayed in the game, played well and helped out my teammates. Let's get ready for the next one."
Ramalho admitted he had played with a purpose during his post-game interview.
"Some players have a goal to have 10 rebounds, 10 points," Ramalho said. "My goal this game was to get two fouls, and I reached my goal. I've been working hard for this, and I got it. I'm just trying to keep it up, working hard everyday like everyone on the team."
Stefon Jackson had nothing but good things to say about his teammate following the senior's performance.
"I just told him in the locker room, that's the best game I have ever seen him play," Jackson said. "He scored in the post, grabbed rebounds; like he should. He just wanted it more. I'm proud of Victor."
Jackson, who had been struggling the past two games averaging 13 points, reverted back to his offensive form, scoring 27 points, and grabbing seven rebounds. The junior guard attributed his output to becoming a gym rat the past week.
"I've been in a slump for the last few games," Jackson said. "Teams have been playing me physical and been coming after me. I got out of the gym this week, and got some extra work. I was really prepared for this game."
The Miners (10-4, 1-0 C-USA) began with an 11-0 run, but lost their momentum, allowing SMU to go on a 13-2 run, tying the game at 13.
"We eased off the gas again," head coach Tony Barbee said. "Its that killer instinct, we have to keep working on it."
UTEP went into halftime with a 38-26 lead, 12 of the points scored by Jackson.
"Good win to start off conference play," Barbee said. "I was worried we would have some hangover from the last two games, and we didn't. We got off to a great start. Guys are growing up."
After the intermission, the Miners dominated the game once SMU head coach Matt Doherty was ejected from the game, four minutes into the second half. UTEP built a game high 19-point lead, except the team had a scare with 5:23 left on the clock when SMU came within nine points (68-59), but rallied together for the tough win.
"All conference games are going to be physical," Jackson said. That's the way we practice, and that's the way we want to play."
The Miners outrebounded the Mustangs 40 to 30. It marked the second time UTEP has outrebounded the opposing team, and coach Barbee said his team is beginning to show a bit of toughness.
"We're showing some of it, but we have to continue to get better at it," Barbee said.
UTEP welcomes Rice on Saturday at 2 p.m. MST. The game may be seen on CSTV. The Owls suffered their fourth-straight loss Wednesday to Marshall (66-47). Rice's record stands at (3-11, 0-1 C-USA).
Jackson passed Prince Stewart and Terry White to move into 23rd place on UTEP's all-time scoring list with 1,104 points.
Carlos Silva Jr. is a Staff Writer for MinerDigs.net. He can be reached by clicking here.