The absolute worst formula UTEP needs to avoid all year formulated in the opening minutes of the Miners' first major test against Wake Forest to open the Charleston Classic.
The Miners got in early foul trouble, were horrible in transition defense, particularly rotating and communicating at the 3-point line, and turned it over 18 times in the game as Wake Forest cruised to an easy 103-81 win.
Offense was flowing early on as both teams put together runs in the opening 10 minutes or so.
Wake broke open a 4-4 tie with a 9-0 run fueled by a trio of 3-pointers, two coming from Austin Arians, and the third from Keyshawn Woods which gave the Demon Deacons an early 13-4 lead.
The Miners would go on a 6-2 spurt with a big dunk from Matt Willms cutting the lead to 16-10, but the Miners had their fair share of troubles defending Wake's transition offense as the Deacs' took a 18-10 lead into the under 16 timeout.
UTEP shot 60 percent from the floor in the first nine minutes, but they committed four early turnovers, while Wake Forest knocked down five three pointers and stretched their lead to double digits.
Wake raced out to a 24-12 lead, but the Miners would go on a 12-2 run in just under four minutes to close the gap.
Paul Thomas would get back-to-back buckets, then Omega Harris threw down his first career dunk to cap off the run on a breakaway off of a turnover to cut the deficit to 26-22 with 10:49 left in the opening half.
But the Miners couldn’t keep Wake off the offensive glass in the first half, and the Deacons were red-hot from 3-point land.
They would knockdown 13 first half 3-pointers, and led by 21 in the closing seconds of the half, and led 63-44 at halftime.
Wake Forest continued to pour it on in the second half, and led 102-74 with just under three minutes left in the game.
John Collins led the way with 24 points, on 9-of-10 shooting for the Deacons as Danny Manning attacked the paint in the second half after the first half 3-point assault.
Dominic Artis led UTEP with 24 points, but turned it over six times and finished with a +/- of -25.
Terry Winn had a rough afternoon, picking up two fouls in the first 1:10 of the game, and fouled out in the second half after just four points, on 2-of-8 shooting from the floor.
UTEP finished the game shooting 53.4 percent from the field, but turned it over on 23 percent of their possessions.
Paul Thomas had an encouraging floor game with eight points, five rebounds, and five assists in 26 minutes with zero turnovers.
Wake Forest ended the game making nine of their last ten field goals, and shot 59.3 percent in the game, and out rebounded UTEP 33-24.
In what was UTEP's first test of the season, the Miners failed miserably in the first half defensively, and couldn't find any consistency on the offense end.
Wake Forest improves to 3-0 and will face Villanova tomorrow.
UTEP will play Western Michigan in the loser's bracket tomorrow with a scheduled 1:30 p.m. Mountain Time start.