Omega Harris scored 34 points, including eight three-pointers, to lead the Orange to a 70-61 victory over the White in UTEP Basketball’s sixth annual preseason scrimmage on Saturday afternoon.
The Orange scored 14 of the game’s first 17 points and led wire-to-wire. White trailed 35-18 at halftime and closed the gap to five points twice in the second half, but could get no closer.
“It was really important to get out here and have some of these guys playing with the lights on and with a crowd in the stands,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “It’s always interesting to see how guys react with a crowd versus who they are in practice. We always learn a great deal.”
Harris made 12-of-17 shots, 8-of-11 three-pointers and 2-of-2 free throws while adding five assists and four steals in 35 minutes.
Kelvin Jones, one of six freshmen making their Miner debuts, collected a double-double for the Orange with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Paul Thomas also had a double-double for the White with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Matt Willms, making his return to the court following a long rehab from foot surgery, contributed 14 points in 28 minutes.
“I think it was very good for Matt Willms to get out there and be able to play,” Floyd said. “It’s the first competition he has had in two years. He has literally only practiced for seven days in two years. I thought it was so important for him to get some reps.
“I thought Jake Flaggert, Paul Thomas and Omega Harris all played solidly. This will help us formulate what we’re going to do at the start of the season with our lineups,” Floyd added.
Both teams hovered around the 40 percent shooting mark and Orange had a 40-34 edge on the boards. Dominic Artis dished out eight of the Orange’s 19 assists.
“I was not overly pleased with the total effort,” Floyd said. “I think some of it has to do with conditioning. I think in Kelvin Jones’ case, he’s a fine young prospect right now. I might be in better shape than he is, which is a real testament to the fact we’ve got to continue to condition every day after practice and get in better shape. He’s a kid with a lot of talent. We’re going to be able to play him in spurts along with Matt, which might provide us the opportunity to have a center between the two, where we had planned on playing both together a year ago. I think the improvement of Paul Thomas is what was apparent to me. Jake Flaggert’s improvement is very apparent to me. And I think Omega made shots and we’ll go back and look at it from the other perspective and see how he did in other areas.”
Jake Flaggert bested Dominic Artis in the three-point shootout final, 10-9. Freshman Tim Cameron won the dunk contest with a slam over the 6-11 Jones.
The Miners will open their 2016-17 season with an exhibition versus Southeastern Oklahoma State on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 1 p.m. UTEP Basketball season tickets are on sale now by calling 747-6150.
Photo gallery by Andres Acosta