It wasn’t pretty, and it didn’t count in the standings or on the stat sheet. but the Miners learned a lot about themselves in a 80-71 exhibition win over Southeastern Oklahoma State Sunday afternoon in the Don.
Dominic Artis led the way with 17 points, and four rebounds, Terry Winn collected a double-double with 14 points, and 10 rebounds, but did commit seven turnovers.
Omega Harris added 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and did not commit a single turnover in 31 minutes as those three led the charge on the stat sheet.
UTEP started ice cold from the field, while SE Oklahoma State started an efficient 4-of-5 from the field with a Jett Jobe 3-pointer putting the Savage Storm ahead 12-4 at 16:43 mark of the opening half.
SE Oklahoma State then led 14-4 after a pair of free throws from Anton Cook, but UTEP got going with a 14-4 run of their own to tie the game at 18 with an Ivan Venegas hook shot deep in the paint with 11:31 left until halftime.
The lead changed hands 13 times in the opening half, as the teams traded free throws, and 3-pointers in the final 10 minutes.
A Chris Barnes 3-pointer from the left corner put UTEP in front 38-35 with 5:00 minutes left in the first half. Then Harris, and Artis each knocked down 3’s as UTEP took a slim 46-43 lead into the halftime break.
Both teams hit five 3-pointers in the first half, but SE Oklahoma State shot 58.3 percent from the field in the first half while UTEP ended the half shooting 48.3 percent after their slow start.
Things remained close to open the second half, with UTEP showing lots of rust, and issues on the defensive end.
UTEP shot a forced and out-of-rhythm’d 4-for-18 in the first nine minutes of the second half, but Kelvin Jones sparked some energy that started a UTEP run.
Jones put back an offensive board which started an 8-1 UTEP run finished off by a fast break layup off a steal by Omega Harirs who dished to Artis for the easy bucket giving UTEP a 64-55 lead with 8:23 left in the game.
UTEP would stretch the run to 13-5 as the Miners largest lead of the game was 71-60 with 3:57 left in the game.
Tim Floyd’s group came up empty from behind the 3-point line in the second half, but did a much better job defensively in the final nine minutes of not allowing easy buckets or touches in the paint
The Miners finished the night 44.3 percent from the field, but did turn the ball over 20 times. A major positive was UTEP’s ability to cash in off SE Oklahoma’s turnovers, turning 22 turnovers into 32 points in the contest.
UTEP outscored the Savage Storm 34-22 in the paint, and held a 19-12 advantage in second chance points out rebounding the visitors 39-30 with 17 offensive boards.
Paul Thomas was solid, adding nine points, and five rebounds. Trey Touchet had a quiet eight points, going 5-of-6 from the free throw line which helped UTEP shoot 20-for-26 from the charity stripe in the game.
After a rough start in his first six minutes of action in where he picked up four fouls. Kelvin Jones finished with six points and six rebounds in just 11 minutes before fouling out.
Jones showed plenty of flashes of intriguing potential, but is a definite work in progress.
The bad news though is the injury bug has unfortunately stuck Matt Willms again.
Tim Floyd said after the game that Willms has a stress reaction on the same bothersome foot that has kept him out of action. From a doctors recommendation, Willms was sat out and will probably miss another week.
Freshman point guard Deon Barrett was also not in action for violating team rules according to Floyd.
UTEP will host their final exhibition next Saturday at 1 p.m.