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UTEP Basketball: Late run lifts UTEP over North Texas 84-75

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Hooper Vint, and Lee Moore took over down the stretch, as UTEP pulled away late from North Texas for a 2-0 C-USA start.

For about 36 minutes and some change, North Texas, and Jeremy Combs absolutely dominated UTEP on the glass.

Combs pulled down 19 rebounds for the game, and North Texas held a 48-33 advantage on the glass at the under four timeout of the second half with UTEP holding a 71-70 lead with 3:41 to go.

Then UTEP out rebounded North Texas 12-2 from there in the midst of an 0-of-5 stretch from the field by North Texas spurring a 7-0 UTEP run to put North Texas away 84-75 and move to 2-0 in C-USA play to start off the conference slate.

Hooper Vint scored 20 points, and hauled in 12 rebounds, Lee Moore scored 15 points, and also helped on the boards with eight rebounds.  Moore and Vint scored 16 of UTEP's final 18 points in the final 4:43 which ended up being a major difference down the stretch.

Omega Harris added 13 points, Dominic Artis chipped in 11 points to help UTEP improve to 10-5 overall on the year.

The Miners would get off to a slow start in the opening stages shooting 6-for-20 from the field to open the game, but North Texas would match that exact shooting clip to keep things close early on.

North Texas would end an early two minute-plus scoring drought with a dunk by Jeremy Combs that would lead to a 7-0 run for North Texas tying the game at 13 with 11:44 left in the first half.

Things would continue to stay close over the next few minutes, then UTEP made a run that gave them some breathing room.

UTEP turned a small 18-17 lead into a 25-19 lead thanks to a quick 7-2 run after a pair of Earvin Morris free throws, then took a 41-31 halftime lead with 24 points coming inside the paint in the first half after a 1-of-8 start from behind the three point line.

North Texas started the second half making seven in a row from the field with a three point play by J-Mychal Reese at the 16:04 mark cutting the UTEP lead to 50-46.

UTEP would then get back-to-back three pointers from Artis, and Earvin Morris followed up by a Hooper Vint layup to cap off an 8-0 UTEP run putting UTEP in front 62-53 with 11:43 left in the second half.

But the Miners inability to close out a defensive stop with a rebound helped North Texas climb back into the game.

Jeremy Combs would grab an offensive board and turn it into second chance points at the 7:21 mark to finish off an 8-2 North Texas run with the Mean Green now down just two at 66-64.

UTEP would answer with a Tevin Caldwell layup, but Reese would go on to score five straight including an easy fast break layup off a turnover by Dominic Artis to tie the game at 66 with five minutes left in the game.

But then Lee Moore and Hooper Vint took over the scoring, and the Miners owned the boards in the final five minutes.

Moore would score UTEP's next six points to break the 66-all tie, but North Texas was still within a possession with UTEP leading 72-71 after a floater by Moore with 3:33 left.

North Texas would actually hold a 71-70 lead before Moore's bucket thanks to a three pointer from Deckie Johnson which would end being the last North Texas field goal in the final 4:05.

Hooper Vint would slam one down with two hands with 55 seconds left to give UTEP a 80-75 edge which was apart of a 7-0 UTEP run in the final 1:54 stretching a 77-75 lead into a 84-75 win.

North Texas used 15 second chance points to keep themselves in the game, but UTEP forced 13 turnovers, and used 11 points off those turnovers all via fast break chances to win their 10th straight C-USA home game dating back to last season.

The Miners shot 22-of-35 from the free throw line in the game, and scored 44 points in the paint.   Lee Moore was again solid from the free throw line with a 7-of-10 mark from the charity stripe.  Terry Winn was also active on the boards with eight rebounds, and he also scored nine points.

It was another shaky second half defensive effort  by UTEP as North Texas shot 51.6 percent in the second half, and at one point were shooting over 60 percent from the field.  But the Miners held strong in the final four minutes, both on the glass, and keeping North Texas out of the paint to stave off the Mean Green.

UTEP now hits the road with a crucial two game road swing starting at Middle Tennessee on Friday, then face defending C-USA tournament champs UAB on Sunday.