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UTEP Basketball: UTEP outlasts Marshall 112-108

Marshall and UTEP blew up the scoreboard, and UTEP squeaked out a thrilling win.

In a building known for defensive prowess, defense was optional Thursday evening.

UTEP fought back from a double-digit deficit in the second half  to outscore Marshall 112-108 in a thrilling, high scoring affair which featured run after run, and bucket after bucket.

The Thundering Herd shot 53.5 percent from the field in the game, UTEP shot 56.1 percent, the lead changed hands 22 times, and both teams each hit 11 three pointers in an understated offensive shootout.

Marshall started 3-of-5 from three point land in the first five minutes with the third coming off the hand of Ryan Taylor to give the Herd an early 15-9 lead five minutes in.

Earvin Morris would score 18 points in the first half on 6-of-7 shooting to keep UTEP from getting too far behind.

He would drill a three pointer apart of a 15-9 UTEP swing over the next four minutes to tie things up at 24 with 11:08 left in the half.

Ryan Kelly would finally get going for Marshall after a slow start by scoring six straight, but Morris gave UTEP a 30-29 lead at the 8:07 mark with another triple.

UTEP played almost flawlessly on offense, with flow, and shot making to that point, but then the turnover bug struck.

In the midst of four Miner turnovers, Kelly started a 11-2 run with a three from top of the key, then the fourth turnover of the sequence led to a wide open dunk on a fast break by C.J. Burks.

Stevie Browning finished off the run with a bang, throwing down an alley-oop from Burks to put Marshall in front 50-39 with 2:27 left until halftime.

The Herd shot 55.6 percent from the field in the first half, while Kelly scored 17 points as Marshall led 55-47 after a high scoring first twenty minutes.

Marshall kept an 8-to-11 point distance in the first seven minutes of the second half as the pace remained rabid, but Dominic Artis took over to the close the gap with a game changing run.

Artis would hit a pair of three pointers, then completed a three point play during a 15-6 UTEP spurt to cut the lead to 80-76 Marshall.

In the end, the spurt turned into a 21-5 run the Miners way, with a three pointer by Omega Harris putting UTEP in front 92-85 in the midst of nine straight for UTEP with 7:27 left in the game.

Although Marshall had a quick response.

The Herd then went on a 10-2 run, capped of by a three point play from Ryan Taylor to tie things back up, this time at 94-all with 5:40 left to play.

Then the lead changed hands seven times and a pair of free throws from Jon Elmore tied the game back up at 104 at the 2:51 mark ending another wild sequence of action.

After a pair of Lee Moore free throws, UTEP went back ahead 109-108 to answer a pair of Marshall free throws with just 51 seconds until the finish.

Needing a stop, the Miners would do just that on Marshall's next trip up the floor, which put Dominic Artis at the free throw line.

In a classic like this one, there is always an unsung hero, and Tevin Caldwell was that dude.

Caldwell had been subbed in by Floyd after the Moore free throws, and came up with a huge offensive rebound on a miss by Artis as Artis split a pair at the line with UTEP leading 110-108.

That key board lead to Omega Harris hitting a free throw, and forced Marshall to go for the high percentage try at a tie down 111-108 with 19 seconds left.

On Marshall's next possession, Austin Loop would come up short on a three ball, that was rebounded by Terry Winn who was sent to the line.

Winn missed both freebies, but the second one was again rebounded by a high flying Caldwell who was subsequently fouled and split a pair of free throws with seven seconds left to seal the deal.

Artis led all scorers with a career high 33 points, he also added nine rebounds, and was 4-of-5 from three point land. He made four straight from deep in a five minute stretch in the second half.

Morris finished with 20 points after his big first half, Lee Moore was his usual aggressive self adding 17 points, on 7-of-9 shooting from the free throw line.

Omega Harris scored 15 points, hitting a pair of three pointers, and Terry Winn who did not play in the first half scored 13 points, and grabbed five rebounds in 17 minutes.

Marshall had five score in double figure led by Kelly who poured in 26 points to go along with seven rebounds.

UTEP was 11-of-18 from three the point land, while Marshall was 11-of-28 in the game.

While the scoring was nice, and a big difference during  the run, UTEP hung around on the boards despite being clipped 36-35 on the boards.  Four different Miners recorded exactly five rebounds.

UTEP improves to 26-0 all-time at home when scoring 100-points, and 4-6 this season in conference play.

In a game that would make Don Haskins throw his hands up in disgust after easy bucket, after easy bucket, it was UTEP who was able to string together some stops in the final minute to knock off second place Marshall.

WKU now comes into the Don Saturday afternoon for the ultimate celebration of UTEP's tradition rich history.

It wasn't how he would draw it up, but you know coach is up there smiling down on a exciting start to an important UTEP basketball weekend of honoring that history.