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UTEP Basketball: Miners weather late FAU run for fourth straight win

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FAU almost pulled off a shocker, but UTEP held on for a 89-82 victory.

Dominic Artis again flirted with a triple double, and six Miners scored in double figures as UTEP held off a late FAU run for a 89-82 road win.

UTEP almost blew a 18-point second half lead with nine minutes to go, but held FAU scoreless in the final 2:32 to close out the win.

"We're pleased to get the win," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said.   "We are better in three areas than we were a week ago on the road.  Not turning it over more than our opponents, which had been a problem area on the road.  We outrebounded our opponent, which had been a problem area on the road.  And free throw attempts had been a problem area on the road.  We handled those three areas much better."

Artis scored 13 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and dished out nine assists in 34 minutes with only two turnovers to lead a potent UTEP offensive attack.

Earvin Morris scored eight of UTEP's first 10 points, then the Miners made three in a row from the field with an easy layup by Artis capping off the sequence for a 18-12 lead at the 11:55 mark of the first half.

In a play of the game moment, Dominic Artis would save a loose ball forced by Lee Moore by shoveling it ahead while diving to a sprinting Moore who easily laid it up for a 22-13 lead.

Then a nice right handed hook shot in the lane by Hooper Vint would cap off a 6-0 spurt giving UTEP their first double digit lead at 24-13 at the 9:10 mark.

The UTEP lead would then swell to 17, as the efficient offensive stretch we've seen during the win streak continued.

UTEP went on a 15-5 run, with a transition three-pointer from Trey Touchet off an Artis assist put the Miners ahead 41-24 with 5:18 left until halftime.

The Miners shot a scorching hot 57.1 percent from the field in the first half, led by Morris who finished the half with his game total of 14 points as the Miners led 47-34 at halftime.

UTEP started 4-of-5 from the field in the second half, making four in a row at one point to hold a 57-42 lead after an and-1 by Hooper Vint.

Marquan Botley and Jackson Trapp would each knock down a three pointer during a 8-1 FAU run to cut the lead to 67-57 at the 11:03 mark of the second half, making things a bit interesting.

Lee Moore would then score six straight including four free throws in a row as UTEP looked to have this one in the bag with a 75-57 lead with 9:29 left.

But then FAU made their move.

The Owls would out score UTEP 22-8 over the next five minutes, with a Solomon Poole three pointer erasing UTEP's large lead to a 85-82 advantage with 2:32 left.

UTEP ran some clock, and FAU came up empty on their final three trips, while Trey Touchet, and Omega Harris each hit a pair of clutch free throws in the final 11 seconds to give UTEP their fourth straight win.

Ball movement, and a lot of close looks helped UTEP build their large lead, the Miners averaged 1.203 points per possession.  UTEP shot 51.6 percent from the field in the game, and 5-of-10 from three point land.

Lee Moore led UTEP with 17 points, Morris and Harris added 14 points apiece, Hooper Vint scored 13 points off the bench, and Terry Winn added 11 points, and eight important rebounds.

UTEP out rebounded FAU 38-31, and despite 16 FAU turnovers, the Owls shot 53.3 percent from the field in the second half that gave themselves a chance during their run.

The Miners flirted with disaster in a six minute stretch in the second half as the ball movement stopped, and FAU got hot.  But like they've done during this encouraging win streak the Miners have been able to get stops down the stretch to seal wins.

"We got really solid play from a lot of guys offensively," Floyd said.  "We let the game get away from us and lost our poise defensively late.  But I'm pleased that we were able to finish the game against a team that has been much improved since we saw them earlier in the year."

UTEP climbs back over .500 in conference play for the first time since early January, and will return home on Thursday to face Southern Miss.