The first half was not pretty in a lot of different areas, particularly some horrible officiating for both sides, but the Miners used a strong second half run to pull away from Sul Ross 78-70 in UTEP’s first exhibition game of the season.
Freshman point guard Evan Gilyard scored 19 points, 15 coming in the second half to lead a 20-3 run that broke open a tie game early in the second half.
Gilyard was a main spark plug during UTEP’s second half run, going 3-of-4 from long distance, he also shot 7-for-11 from the field, and he also added five rebounds to his final line.
Matt Willms also scored 19 points and hauled in nine boards as UTEP shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half, and also out scored Sul Ross 34-16 in paint for the game to seal off their first exhibition win.
Whistles were the theme of the first half, as 30 combined fouls were called in the opening 20 minutes, and Sul Ross shot 16 first half free throws.
Paul Thomas and Tirus Smith each picked up four fouls each in the opening half, and Miners led for 14 minutes in the opening half.
A 3-pointer from the right corner from Trey Wade made it 32-28 UTEP with a minute left until halftime, but the game went into the half tied up at 34-all.
Drama would ensue to open the second half with a pair of technical fouls called on UTEP which led to Tim Floyd leaving the floor due him being sick of the officiating Floyd would later explain after the game.
Keith Frazier slammed home an offensive rebound, and would be whistled for a technical prompting Floyd to leave the floor on his own. Floyd watched the remainder of the game from the nose bleed seats in section N.
Frazier’s dunk tied the game at 38, then Evan Gilyard later drilled a 3-pointer extending UTEP’s lead to 44-40 which also sparked UTEP’s big second half run.
Trey Wade would make it a 9-2 UTEP run with a two hand slam, and UTEP led 47-40 with 14:49 left in the game. UTEP would later extend that run to 14-3 after an Omega Harris 3-pointer which gave UTEP a 52-41 lead at the 14:14 mark of the second half.
Gilyard would hit three second half 3-pointers, and extended UTEP’s run to 20-3 with the third, and UTEP led 58-41 with 12:44 to go.
The Miners led by as much as 17-points, and led by 12 with two minutes to go as the lead was never in question after UTEP broke that 38-all tie.
Omega Harris has been dealing with a back issue and scored six points, but also dished out 10 assists. Tirus Smith finished with eight points but fouled out after just 10 minutes of action.
Trey Wade was the third Miner to reach double figures adding 13 points, and six rebounds in 19 minutes of action.
The Miners shot 46.7 percent from the field in the end, and went 8-for-23 from long distance. UTEP also out rebounded the Lobos 43-31, and went 6-for-11 from long distance in the second half.
Two areas of trouble on the stat sheet were the 20 UTEP turnovers, a 14-for-24 clip from three throw line, and the Miners left a lot of points from misses from around the rim. UTEP only had six fast break points after the Miners botched a few transition scoring opportunities.
Despite the slow start, UTEP showed flashes of their potential during the second half run, but plenty of work is still to be done over the next few weeks.
Tim Floyd said after the game Isaiah Osborne turned his ankle in the first half of Saturday’s exhibition, limiting the sophomore guard to just six minutes Saturday.
UTEP will host Western New Mexico in their final preseason exhibition.