With a little cold shooting help from the UTSA Roadrunners, UTEP finally put together a complete outing, dismantling UTSA 59-39 to win their third straight, sweeping a three game C-USA home stand.
The Miners took advantage of a cold UTSA start from the floor, and built an early lead that continued to grow until halftime and lasted the entire 39 minutes after UTEP grabbed their initial lead.
It just seemed like everything was going right and in UTEP’s direction, while an imaginary lid was placed over UTSA’s first half and second half goals.
With Omega Harris and Dominic Artis both on the bench to grab some wind, UTEP built an early 20-10 lead after a drive and finish by Trey Touchet at the 8:53 mark of the first half.
UTEP extended the run once Harris returned by making five in a row from the field, including a fast break layup, plus the foul and free throw from Omega, then Harris drove baseline and acrobatically went up-and-under for a layup.
Harris offensive outburst put UTEP ahead 25-10, then a few minutes later Jake Flaggert hit a 3-pointer, then Harris knocked down a long ball giving UTEP a 32-17 lead with 2:32 left until halftime.
Harris made five first half goals, while UTSA went 7-for-29 from the field as a team in the first half. UTEP led by 20 at one point, and led 39-21 at halftime.
UTSA’s struggles continued into the second half as they missed their first five looks in the opening minutes of the second half, and the Miners continued their efficient offensive output.
Jake Flaggert hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key stretching UTEP’s lead to 49-28 with just under 13 minutes left in the game, and the Miners never looked back nor let UTSA close the large double-digit margin.
The Miners shot 26.1 percent from the field in the second half, but the early 64 percent shooting performance in the first half built UTEP’s strong lead that was never in question.
Harris ended the night 15 points, and six rebounds, Paul Thomas added 12 points, and a game high 13 rebounds continuing the strong stretch of production from both.
Flaggert was the third Miner to reach double figures chipping in 11 points, making three 3-pointers. Dominic Artis had a quiet night with just nine points on 4-for-8 shooting but now has scored exactly 1,000 points in his collegiate career.
UTEP won the rebounding war 42-37, Kelvin Jones came off the bench and grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked two shots.
The 39 points allowed was the second lowest points ever allowed in a C-USA game for the Miners improving UTEP 5-13 overall, and 3-10 in conference play. Some of UTSA’s struggles were simply missed shots, but UTEP did out score UTSA 22-10 in points scored in the paint.
Up next is longest and a logistics nightmare of a road trip any C-USA team has to go through as UTEP travels to Western Kentucky then Marshall.
For the first time UTEP will charter that road trip which usually involves multiple bus rides. With a travel perk, and a three game winning streak, confidence is high and the quality of play is slowly improving for the 2016-17 Miners.