Men’s basketball looks to continue hot shooting against UTEP

Senior guard Javaunte Hawkins celebrating with junior guard Denver Jones after a score. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

Will Duval | Sports Director

The FIU men’s basketball looks to close out the regular season on the road and are traveling to El Paso, Texas to take on the UTEP Miners on Thursday, March 7, 2024.

Entering this matchup, the Panthers hold a 10-19 season record and are in last place in the Conference USA standings. In their previous game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Saturday, March 2, they emerged victorious and took a 85-83 win.

Vs. Western Kentucky:

To begin the game, FIU looked to play at a fast pace and tested WKU’s ability to defend the perimeter. Junior guard Jaidon Lipscomb provided the team with six of their first twelve points after he knocked down two 3-pointers.

Outside of Lipscomb’s early contribution, senior guard Javaunte Hawkins also made two 3-pointers and helped give the team an early 12-9 lead. Ignited by their hot shooting in the game’s early stages, the Panthers were able to take control of the first half.

Through employing both a consistent perimeter attack and rugged style play inside of the paint, they carved out a 44-31 lead by halftime. As a team, FIU displayed accuracy from beyond-the-arc and knocked down seven of their 15-3-pointers.

At the beginning of the second half, it seemed as if the Panthers would remain in control of the game, as their lead had stockpiled to 16-points. However, after slowly chipping away at their disadvantage, the Hilltoppers found some momentum.

With 12:19 remaining in the game, redshirt senior guard Dontaie Allen connected on a 3-pointer that marked the beginning of a scoring run. Over a two minute span, WKU scored nine unanswered points and cut the lead down to 61-59.

Reinvigorated by their potent offense, the Hilltoppers battled closely and remained within striking distance. With 6:06 left to play, Allen picked the pocket of junior guard Petar Krivokapic and got a steal that led to a game-tying 3-pointer.

Through both crucial plays from Allen and a hard-nosed two-way effort by the team, WKU tied the score at 70-70. After rallying from behind, they seized the momentum of the game and eventually built a slight advantage.

However, FIU didn’t falter in their approach and continued to keep the game within competitive reach. After Hawkins kept the team afloat and scored six consecutive points, they trailed 82-80 with 1:28 remaining.

Following a defensive stop from the Panthers, they ran down the court in transition and looked for a quick scoring opportunity. Leading the team in a critical juncture, Hawkins connected on a 3-pointer that gave them a 83-82 lead with 57-seconds left to play.

Despite claiming a late-game lead, it proved to be short-lived, as senior center Seth Pinkney committed a foul on the next defensive possession. At the free-throw line, junior forward Babacar Faye made one of his two shots and tied the game at 83-83.

Undeterred by the game-tying error, FIU turned to their most reliable scorer this season to put the game away. As the clock ticked down, Hawkins attempted a mid-range jumpshot and drained it with 5-seconds remaining.

Pushing the score to 85-83, Hawkins’ shot was enough to secure a victory for his team, as the Hilltoppers’ last-ditch hoist didn’t connect. 

As a team, the Panthers displayed shooting accuracy in both halves and shot 14-28 from 3-point distance. Outside of their precision from the perimeter, they also shot 31-62 from the field and limited their opponent’s offensive attack.

Defensively, they limited WKU’s ability to find both high quality shot attempts and make 3-point shots. On the night, they only converted on six of their 18-3-point attempts and went 11-22 at the free-throw line.

Hawkins led the charge for FIU offensively and finished with 27-points following his late-game eruption. He was accountable for the team’s final 11-points and effectively decided the outcome of the matchup.

Men’s basketball’s leading scorers from their game against Western Kentucky. Photos courtesy of FIU Athletics. Graphic design by Will Duval | PantherNOW.

Looking to carry their momentum forward, the Panthers are finishing the regular season on the road and are taking on UTEP for their second-to-last game of the year.


Coming into this matchup, the Miners hold a 15-15 regular season record and are ranked sixth in the CUSA standings. In their most recent game against the Liberty Flames on March 2, they took a 67-51 win and displayed their depth.

Four players finished with double-digit scoring figures and helped the team achieve a 52.8% field goal percentage. Junior guard Corey Camper Jr. led their offensive charge and finished with 21-points on the night.

Beyond Camper’s performance, senior guard Zid Powell finished with 19-points and displayed accuracy throughout the game. He acted as a stabilizer for their offense and made seven of his nine total shot attempts.

If FIU wishes to leave this matchup victorious, they must play stout defense and can’t allow their opponent to find easy scoring opportunities. As a team, UTEP doesn’t take or make a high volume of 3-pointers, limiting their interior attack will be essential for a win.

This season, the Miners have shot 31.3% from beyond-the-arc and make an average of 5.7-3-pointers per game. Outside of their shooting inefficiencies, they also average 14.3-turnovers per game, which is the most in CUSA.

Although UTEP leads the conference in turnovers, they also create 19.1 turnovers per game defensively and hold the largest differential in the conference. While there will be opportunities for the Panthers to get steals, they must take care of the ball themselves.

Playing their second-to-last game of the year, the FIU men’s basketball team is traveling to El Paso, Texas to take on the UTEP Miners on Thursday, March 7, 2024.

Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. at Don Haskins Center and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.

FIU: 77

UTEP: 71

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