Hooper Vint scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and added 12 rebounds for his second career double-double as UTEP edged North Texas, 84-75, on Sunday afternoon at the Haskins Center.
The Miners (10-5, 2-0 C-USA) did what they had to do on the first weekend of Conference USA action – defend their home court. UTEP is 2-0 in C-USA for the sixth time and has won its last 10 home games versus league opponents.
“We’re pleased to have gotten a win,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “Our guys got tested a couple of times at home. We were in close games where we had to think and play, try to play with poise.”
After slipping past Rice by a point (61-60) on Friday, the Miners were once again involved in a game that went down to the wire. In fact
, they trailed the Mean Green 71-70 with 4:05 remaining. That was North Texas’ only lead of the game, and the Miners outscored the visitors 14-4 down the stretch to restore order.
“We held North Texas without a field goal the last four minutes and five seconds of the game and defensive boarded those misses that came off. We put ourselves in position to get the right guys fouled and those guys made free throws for the most part,” Floyd said.
North Texas (6-9, 1-1 C-USA) finished just 16-for-32 at the stripe, undermining an efficient second half where it scored 44 points and shot 51.6 percent from the field.
The Miners led by 10 (41-31) at halftime. North Texas made nine of its first 12 shots to start the second half and scored 22 points in a little over six minutes to get back in it.
After Deckie Johnson shot the Mean Green into the lead with a three-pointer, Lee Moore scored to put UTEP ahead for good. Over the last 3:19 the Miners were 8-for-13 at the line and North Texas was 4-for-9. Vint scored eight points during that stretch.
Moore scored 15 points, Omega Harris 13 and Dominic Artis 11 for UTEP. The Miners were beaten on the boards again (50-43), but they did close the gap in the final minutes behind Vint, Moore (eight rebounds) and Terry Winn (eight).
“We gave up too many second chance points again, although we did have a couple of nice rebounding efforts from Terry Winn and Hooper Vint,” Floyd said. “I’m encouraged by that.”
The Miners limited North Texas’ Johnson and Ja’Michael Brown to eight and five points respectively. Johnson was averaging a team-leading 14.6 ppg coming in and Brown scored 21 off the bench at UTSA on Friday.
“We knew he was the best rebounder in the league and he certainly played that way,” Floyd said.
The Miners shot 50 percent in the second half, 45.3 percent for the game.
“Overall I think we’ve just got to be pleased to get the win,” Floyd said. “We got our offense going a little bit. I thought we started moving it the last seven minutes. I couldn’t believe how inefficient we were the first 12 minutes of the ball game. We were at the rim over and over and over again. Just little bunnies and we couldn’t make them. We overhandled it a couple of times, 3-on-1 situations and turned it over. It was frustrating and I felt like it was going to come back to get us.
“We knew that North Texas could come back because that’s what they did last week at UTSA [trailing 40-25 at halftime]. They are an explosive group and we wouldn’t want to see them in the conference tournament.”
Vint redeemed himself after having a rough night Friday.
“He struggled the first four minutes of the second half too [today],” Floyd said. “He wasn’t as aggressive as he needs to be and I thought he got that way. He caught it, he made better decisions on his kicks out of the post.”
“We focus on it every single day,” Floyd said. “Coach Haskins had a saying about rebounding. He said, ‘Recruit rebounders.’ Guys that have instincts, go chase it like a dog on a meat truck, they see the ball going on the board, they just go chase it down and go get it. We’ve got to do a better job of that I would say, because we’re not chasing it. We’re watching it. We’re hoping the other guy gets it so I can run out and go to the offensive end. We keep talking about it, keep blocking it out, keep working [on] having to rebound in practice. That’s all you can do.”
The Middle Tennessee game will be televised on the American Sports Network Thursday at 5 p.m. MT. CBS Sports Network has the UAB game on Saturday at noon MT.
Author: UTEP Athletics