UTEP shook off a sluggish start and scored 52 second-half points in a runaway win over Alcorn State, 88-66,on Sunday night at the Don Haskins Center.
The Miners (3-0) opened the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic with a victory. UTEP will host Florida A&M on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.as part of the tournament before playing a pair of games in Corpus Christi next weekend.
Dominic Artis registered 19 points, nine assists and four steals for the Miners, who shot 49.2 percent from the field while enjoying their top performance of the season at the free throw line. UTEP made its first 15 foul shots and finished 20-for-25 (80 percent) at the stripe.
Artis was the catalyst as the Miners pushed a 10-point halftime lead to 23 in the first eight minutes of the second half.
“I thought he was outstanding,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “I thought he played his best 10 minutes of basketball for us to start the second half. Every basket was off of one of his assists. Great penetration, great attack, got us into offense, moved it, guys had so much space as a result of his ability to penetrate and kick and find guys. He was great in the open floor.”
A 21-6 run expanded a 32-26 UTEP lead late in the first half to 53-32. The Miners kept the margin around 20 the rest of the night.
Earvin Morris scored 18 points, Lee Moore 15 and Hooper Vint 12 for UTEP. The ball moved, as the Miners collected 23 assists with only 10 turnovers.
Marquis Vance led Alcorn State (0-2) with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Braves yielded 22 points off turnovers to the Miners.
The depleted Miner frontcourt was dealt another blow when promising freshman Brodricks Jones went down in the second half with an apparent knee injury.
“Things are changing before our eyes,” Floyd said. “Tevin [Caldwell’s] concussion, I don’t know when he’ll be back. Matt Willms probably is done for the year. The early prognosis on Brodricks Jones is not good. Worst case scenario ACL, best case scenario meniscus. We’ll certainly hope for the best with the MRI, but that’s the early feel.
“We’ve got a lot of issues. That being said, we’re going to go compete it and we’re going to fight it. We’ve got a lot of new guys out there on the floor. Christian Romine will no longer be redshirted. He’ll be back at practice like he has been but we’ll be hearing his voice more, because we’re going to be counting on him. We’ll be pounding him a little bit, trying to get him to where he can front a post and defend and rebound and just try to grow. He really needed a redshirt year, but we’ll have to maybe wait on that a year.”
The Miners were outrebounded 39-38 but did score 19 second-chance points off nine offensive rebounds. Paul Thomas, Terry Winn and Vint snagged six boards apiece.
“I thought Paul Thomas was better tonight rebounding it,” Floyd said. “Hooper Vint was much better rebounding it. But we’ve still got to go another notch. We’ve got to get a guy that is not pleased with getting five or six boards, find that guy that can go out and get us 10 or 11.”
And so the Miners will go back to work Monday, and continue to make adjustments as their roster evolves.
“We’ll have a long session tomorrow in the office to try to review how we’re going to go play … having Hooper Vint as your only big guy out there, things change,” Floyd said. “Maybe it alters the way we have to go approach playing, playing more zone, playing more conservative defensively. But we’ll figure it out and see if we can still hang around some ballgames and go compete it up.
“I like our team, I like our players. [Jake] Flaggert is going to give us the ability to play four guards at times. We may have to start that way so we’ve got Terry and Paul and Hooper to all play inside with Terry being a very small and undersized [center] at times. But we’ll figure it out.
“It’s where we are. I think if you asked those kids in the locker room if they thought we’d still go win games, they’d tell you yes, and we believe that as well. We’re just going to be smaller than any Miner team you’ve seen here for a while because we have lost two of our three centers right off the bat. Hooper is a guy that right now doesn’t have the stamina to go out and play 36, 38 minutes a game. So we’ve got to figure it out behind him.”
Author: UTEP Athletics