It’s been awhile since UTEP has put up eye popping and efficient offensive numbers, but on Saturday they took what Doc Sadler gave them, and pummeled Southern Miss 80-50 finishing this important four game home stand 3-1.
Dominic Artis had a huge night scoring 20 points and handing out 10 assists. He also added eight rebounds, and hit six of his nine attempts from long distance.
UTEP shot 52.9 percent from the floor, assisting on 23 of their 27 made field goals and averaged 1.356 points per possession, putting on an offensive show to keep them tied for fifth place in the C-USA standings with three other teams.
It was an awkward start game plan wise for UTEP as 10 of their first 15 attempts from the field were 3-pointers. Doc Sadler doubled Matt Willms every time the Miners threw it inside, so the Miners’ 3-point shooters were beneficiaries of good ball rotation and open looks.
UTEP only made eight 3-pointers in the past two games combined, but hit seven in the first half building a comfortable halftime lead.
Dominic Artis would hit back-to-back 3’s during the early 3-point heavy sequence which put UTEP ahead 18-11 at the 9:42 mark of the first half.
Quinton Campbell would match Artis with a pair of his own 3-pointers to cut the lead down to 20-17, but Artis would drive baseline then kick out to Omega Harris who drilled a 3-pointer and UTEP led 23-17 with 6:40 left until halftime.
Artis would knock down another 3-ball making it 30-22, then Trey Touchet dialed up a long ball making it 35-25 with 3:52 left until halftime.
Southern Miss also hit seven 3-pointers in the opening half, but Omega Harris went 8-for-8 from the free throw line helping him score 15 first half points, and the Miners led 41-31 at halftime.
At the 15:16 mark of the second half, UTEP was scoring on 61 percent of their possessions, and Artis hit his fourth 3-pointer of the night extending the UTEP lead to 51-36.
UTEP’s strong start to the second half continued with a 16-0 run capped off by another 3-pointer from Artis and the Miners were rolling and leading 61-36 with 12:39 left in the game.
Artis kept raining 3’s, making his sixth of the night which gave UTEP their largest lead at that point 66-40 with 11:22 remaining. UTEP led by 31 with 4:06 left and Floyd was able to empty the bench for the first time in a while as well.
Harris ended the night with 17 points, five assists, and four rebounds. Jake Flaggert hit three 3-pointers for all nine of his points. UTEP went 12-for-23 from behind the arch on the evening, and 14-for-18 from the free throw line.
Southern Miss shot 29.2 percent from the floor in the second half, and the Miners dominated the glass with a 37-22 margin, making matchup adjustments at halftime to shut down the shorthanded Golden Eagles.
UTEP also was impressive in the specialty numbers holding a 11-5 edge in second chance points, and a 15-9 edge in points off turnovers.
The past stretch of games in where UTEP has won seven of nine have been rewarding for both UTEP fans, and the team, but the ultimate measure of improvement will be tested as UTEP embarks on a four game road trip.
Leg one of the roadie starts next Thursday at North Texas.
This Miner team has came a long way since January 1st, but like Tim Floyd proudly says....boys win at home, and men win on the road.
Has this UTEP team grown up enough to take care off business on the road?
That will be answered over the next two weekends.