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UTEP men's basketball team had roller coaster season

By Staff Report
Published On: Mar 13 2014 10:26:47 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 23 2014 11:50:58 AM CDT

EL PASO, Texas -

UTEP's 2013-'14 season would have made a compelling reality show - if such a show existed. The Miners are still eligible for post-season play with the NIT and CBI as possible destinations

Here's a look a back at this season.

Star Recruit Abandons Miners

Sept. 13, 2013- ESPN.com and CBSSports.com are reporting that star basketball recruit Isaac Hamilton has been admitted into UCLA.

Hamilton will have to sit out the 2013-'14 basketball season.

Hamilton signed a National Letter of Intent to play at UTEP in Nov. 2012. He asked UTEP to be released from his NLI after he said he wanted to be closer to home to be with his ailing grandmother.

UTEP denied the request and in mid-August he filed an appeal with the NLI committee which the committee denied last week.

The day the appeal was denied UTEP coach Tim Floyd released a statement saying, "We still consider the University of Texas at El Paso to be his best option when you weigh risk versus reward. Hopefully he will understand that he has until Tuesday (Sept. 10)  to enroll, and he would be welcome with open arms.  We still believe he made his decision to come here for the right reasons."

Floyd told the Los Angeles Times in July that Hamilton wanted to attend USC so he can be closer to his ill grandmother.

Hamilton had tweeted on July 11 why he was not in El Paso.

"To all Utep fans my grandmother is ill and I'm dealing with a death in the family that's why I haven't made it yet," Hamilton tweeted.

3 Players Kicked Off Team For Allegedly Gambling

Jan. 7, 2014- UTEP Executive Vice President Richard Adauto announced (Jan. 7) that three men's basketball players gambled on sporting events but said there was no evidence of point shaving.

The three players are McKenzie Moore, Jalen Ragland, and Justin Crosgile. All three are no longer on the team, nor enrolled at the university.

Adauto said the university received a tip last month that two players may have been betting on sports and immediately reported it to the local FBI office which began an investigation. The investigation then revealed that three were involved, Adauto said.

Moore and Ragland were suspended indefinitely from the team Dec. 28. Crosgile did not play against Angelo State on Saturday. Moore and Crosgile had previously been suspended for the Dec. 16 game against New Orleans due to disciplinary reasons.

Adauto said that gambling is a very serious NCAA rule infraction that results in a one year suspension and loss of eligibility. Because the players are upperclassmen, "their collegiate basketball careers are over, they are no longer enrolled at UTEP," Adauto said.

"I don't think you're going to find another case where the university reported to the FBI," Floyd said Tuesday afternoon. "We have worked tirelessly to bring the highest character people and we have... and I worry about the reflection on (other members of the team). I think it's unfortunate. I'm crushed, personally, that this has happened but I have to worry about the young people we have."

Adauto doesn't think the basketball program has been tarnished by the three players.

"Yeah, we took a hit on this one and it's unfortunate. But I think the program survives despite what these three did," Adauto said. He added what happened is not a reflection on the program. "It's a reflection on the people who did something stupid. Bob has done a great job of hiring people with character. I think we're fine. We'll get through this and we're fine."

The 10-5 miners open conference play Thursday at home against Charlotte, followed by a home game on Saturday against Marshall.

Without Moore, the Miners will have a hard time winning Conference USA or its post-season tournament, which will be at the Haskins Center this year.

If the Miners do not make the NCAA tournament, it will be the fourth consecutive year under Floyd that they've failed to do so.

Watch full UTEP news conference about the basketball team investigation at http://bit.ly/1gCoPd0

Bouncing Back

Following the loss of the three players, UTEP went on an eight-game winning streak and also added two hometown players to the roster.

The Jones brothers - Aaron and Alvin - dressed for the Charlotte game. Both are freshman.

Check out videos of them dunking in games at Burges High School at http://bit.ly/1hwdVbM and http://bit.ly/JI6G1Y.

C-USA Tournament At Home

Julian Washburn scored 20 points to lead four UTEP players in double figures as the Miners finished off East Carolina, 77-68, to christen the Conference USA Championship on Wednesday in the Don Haskins Center.

The fifth seed Miners (23-9) advanced to take on fourth seed Southern Miss (26-5) in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

The Miners took their largest lead of 23 points (51-28) with 16:35 to play, but couldn't completely shake the Pirates, who pulled within 13 points a few times. After East Carolina closed to within 72-59 with 2:49 remaining, Floyd put starters John Bohannon, C.J. Cooper,Vince Hunter and Julian Washburn back in the game.

The final score marked the closest East Carolina had been since it was 15-6 at the 14:50 point of the first half.

Bohannon had a double-double - the 20th of his career - tying him with Jim Forbes and Nevil Shed for the fifth-most in school history. Hunter added 12 points and Willms had 11. C.J. Cooper was UTEP's fifth effective starter with five assists and no turnovers in 29 minutes.

UTEP shot 51.8 percent from the field, held East Carolina to 43.1 percent, and outrebounded the Pirates 37-30.

Southern Miss defeated UTEP, 64-56 in the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament. UTEP must now wait to see if they are invited to the NIT or CBI for a post-season tournament.

UTEP Athletics contributed to this report

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