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UTEP Downs East Central 78-66 After Late Run

The Miners were able to keep East Central University at bay, but were never really able put them away until late in the second half Saturday night at the Don.

Dominic Artis finished with 19 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and Lee Moore went for 16 points and 15 rebounds en route to a 78-66 win over East Central University Saturday night at the Don Haskins Center.

It didn't take long for Miner fans to get a glimpse of what should prove to be a real trend this year with their guard play. Dominic Artis, who was absent from the first exhibition due to an eligibility issue, found Matt Willms early on a lob for an alley oop dunk, and Lee Moore racked up 7 points and 3 rebounds in just the first few minutes of the game.

Behind Moore, UTEP was able to find some early offense, jumping out to an 18-9 lead just over eight minutes into the ball game. But, ECU would not go quietly. Two minutes later they'd have the lead down to just four at 22-18.

The difference would stay four until about the five minute mark of the first half, but the Miners would be able to create a little separation from there. An 11-2 run would extend the Miners' lead out to 13, giving them a 39-26 advantage heading into the locker rooms.

East Central would begin to chop away at the deficit to begin the second half, allowing the Miners just 12 points over the first eight minutes of the half to get back to within five at 51-46.

The Tigers would eventually get to within two at 62-60 with about five minutes to play, but a block by freshman Brodricks Jones on the next possession would start a fast break that would end with a nice assist and score from Artis to Trey Touchet.

That bucket got it back to four, and one possession later the lead was back to six, and the Miners would close it out from there. In the end, it would turn out to be a 16-6 run over the final five minutes to give the Miners a comfortable 78-66 win in their final tuneup of the season.

Dominic Artis had game high honors with his 19 points on 6-16 shooting, and he also finished with 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals with no turnovers. Lee Moore had an off shooting night, finishing 6-20 from the field, but did score 16 points and had a monstrous 15 rebound performance.

Tevin Caldwell had a very efficient 15 points on just 4-6 shooting, and also had 11 rebounds including 9 on the offensive end. Also, Matt Willms finished with 6 points and 2 rebounds in six minutes of action.

East Central was led by Stirling Thomas who finished with 17 points and 5 rebounds. Deron Hill finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds, Braxton Reeves chipped in with 11 points, and Brett Cannon had 10.

The Miners held the Tigers to just 35.9% from the field, while shooting 41.7% themselves. They finished just 2-14 from three though, while ECU knocked in 5 of their 22 attempts. Neither team shot extremely well from the line with the Miners going 26-42 and the Tigers finishing 15-26.

It wasn't the most impressive of performances, but it was just a tuneup. One more glorified practice to give coach Tim Floyd and his staff a better idea of what they are working with. Of course, guys like Earvin Morris and Terry Winn remain suspended, and could miss the fist two games of the year, while Omega Harris will be out until at least mid-December.

There are still some pieces to work with though, and it will all be centered around the guards. Artis and Moore are clearly the leaders, but this team will be playing plenty of small ball, even four guard lineups, as much as their opposition will allow.

The Miners will open up the regular season with a contest against Loyola (N.O.) next Saturday in the Don Haskins Center. Tipoff in that contest is slated for 7:05 p.m. MT.

Make sure to stay tuned to MinerRush for coverage of all things UTEP sports. Also, make sure to on Twitter and as always don't forget to like our Facebook Page. Picks Up, and Go Miners!