DENTON, TEXAS – Paul Thomas set career-highs for points (23) and rebounds (14), and Dominic Artis scored 10 of his 19 points in overtime as UTEP rallied past North Texas 77-71, on Thursday at the Super Pit.
The Miners (10-15, 8-5 C-USA) won for the eighth time in 10 games and moved into a tie for third place in Conference USA with Old Dominion, Marshall and Saturday’s opponent, Rice.
“A really good win for us,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “I know that team does not have a good record, but they sure played terrific tonight. Their kids were spirited and played hard. We were very fortunate, being down 10, to come back and we did it with three or four stops.”
The Miners trailed 44-34 with 14:35 to play, but scored the next seven points to creep within three. UTEP got down six three times, the last with 6:16 remaining (55-49), but outscored the Mean Green 16-10 over the final 5:58 to force an extra period. Thomas’ three-point play with 1:22 left knotted it at 65 and neither team scored again in regulation.
UTEP took charge by scoring the first five points, and seven of the first eight, in overtime. Artis’ three-pointer with 3:15 to go pushed a 67-65 lead to 70-65. The Miners built a six-point lead (72-66) on a jumper by Artis with 1:28 to play, then held off the Mean Green (7-18, 1-12 C-USA) down the stretch.
North Texas made 11-of-31 three pointers behind a career night from Derail Green, who scored 21 points and hit 7-of-11 from beyond the arc. But they were bound to start missing eventually, and they finally did in overtime when they were 2-for-7 from the field and 0-for-4 from downtown.
Thomas made 10-of-16 shots while adding four assists and two steals. Artis was 5-for-6 from the line, all in overtime. Omega Harris scored nine of his 13 points in the second half, and Matt Willms contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
“We got a lot of mileage out of Paul Thomas tonight,” Floyd said. “He was just terrific on both boards. He scored, which I’m excited about. I thought Omega and D.A. had real nice second halves. DA made a big three late. We got quality minutes from Trey [Touchet] and Jake [Flaggert] and Kelvin [Jones] and the bench. We’re growing every night out, which is really encouraging.”
The Miners will take on a red-hot Rice team that has won five in a row on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Tudor Fieldhouse.
“We’re going to go play a really good Rice team on the road,” Floyd said. “They’ve got the best guards in our league and as good of guards as there are in the country. They have been outstanding on their home floor. It’s going to be a really tough game for us, but I trust we will come out and play hard and try to get a little better.”