The UTEP Men's basketball team continued its solid surge, with an impressive 81-62 win over UTSA Saturday afternoon.
Using an early 18-6 run in the first half, fueled by super freshman Vince Hunter, UTEP pulled away from an early 17-16 UTSA lead to run them out of the Don to improve to 4-1 in C-USA play.
Hunter got his teammates, and the afternoon crowd of 8,692 going with some huge dunks off Miner forced turnovers, displaying the NBA level athleticism off a Julian Washburn steal with a one hand throw down.
Head Coach Tim Floyd:
"I thought a lot of good things happened in that game. Agusi was averaging 18.5 points over conference play. Lewis is their leading scorer and Sims is about to be their all-time leading three-point shooter and averaging about 13. C.J. appears to be really out of his funk and playing really well in terms of his decision making, he’s stepping in with confidence, shooting the ball like we know he can shoot it. Vince created some offense out of defense, which is starting to happen for him. He’s starting to recognize there are baskets by playing really hard on the defensive end and coming through passes. It’s fun to come to practice right now, I sense that our fans really liked what they were seeing in terms of the energy in the building. It’s great to see that many people come out and respond to a team in serious transition right now. "
That stretch would eventually blow open the run to 23-8, leading to a 39-27 Minero lead heading into halftime.
Julian Washburn was uber efficient, knocking down two early three's in the first half, he finished with 19 points on 6 out of 7 shooting from the field, including 3/4 from deep.
"I don't think you can get any better than that (6/7 shooting), unless I go perfect. Every shot I shot was going in today, just happy I'm making shots. I feel like we're getting used to Vince playing the three, we are really just playing defense, and getting out and getting easy baskets"
Defense was again the forte for the Miners, forcing 20 turnovers and cashing in on 30 points off those turns on the afternoon. Washburn shut down both Devon Agusi, and Keon Lewis, in continuing to guard the oppositions point guard.
UTEP would propel that late first half run into a 31-point lead at the 7:10 mark of the second half with a 73-42 lead by attacking the UTSA zone with a Jake Flaggert alley oop lay up from Aaron Jones who saw a season high 9 minutes.
With superior patience, and ball movement, the Mineros busted the UTSA zone with 42 points in the paint, while using the long ball efficiently, firing 6 out 12 from behind the three point arch, and 55.6 percent from the field.
Hunter finished with 15 points and 4 rebounds, C.J. Cooper has completely shook off the rust from a slow start, and added 15 points via 3/6 shooting from three point land, 30 minutes with zero turnovers.
Most important take away was the Miners were able to rest, Washburn, Bohannon, and Hunter, getting the second unit some much needed and well used minutes.
The Miner reserves impressively pushed the lead to the 31-point margin, presenting the great improvement since the Angelo State practice, proving everyone is ready for this conference run.
Huge congratulations to head coach Tim Floyd for his 400th career victory, special moment for the old ball coach as we has on Don Haskins staff for Coach's 300th and 400th win. Floyd said Haskins had sent him one of the game balls from one of those wins, which Floyd said is one his prized possessions.
Tim Floyd on 400th win:
"I'm damn near 60 years old, you better. Or your not going to be coaching anywhere. You ought a compile a few wins along the way."
The game of the year is on tap for next Thursday with the LA Tech Bulldogs, who are ranked 2nd in our weekly Conference USA Power Rankings coming in for a huge game at the top of the standings.