Six players scored in double figures and three finished with 20+ points as Orange slipped past White, 86-85, in UTEP Basketball’s annual preseason scrimmage on Saturday at the Don Haskins Center.
Jake Flaggert’s three-pointer with 22 seconds left was the winning bucket for the Orange. White’s Tirus Smith scored on a tip-in at the other end, but it was ruled to come after the final buzzer sounded.
Flaggert’s triple gave the Orange its first lead since 57-56 with 12 minutes remaining. Orange outscored White 6-0 in the final minute.
“Really a good day for the Miners, for our kids,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “They all were excited about getting out and playing. We had officials there, which is the first time we’ve done that with this group. They got a chance to play in front of a crowd. They had a chance to get coached on the fly, and everybody played a lot of minutes. Obviously we’re not where we need to be in a lot of areas, but we’ve got [20 days] before we open our season. Good day, and really proud of a lot of the effort that came from our guys.”
Trey Wade scored 29 points, making 11-of-20 shots and 6-of-10 three-pointers, to lead the White. Paul Thomas and Isiah Osborne led the Orange with 26 and 22 points, respectively.
Orange shot 63.8 percent from the field, including 70.4 percent (19-for-27) in the second half. But White made 11 three-pointers, including nine in the first half.
It looked like Orange was going to run away with it early as it built a 5-4 lead in the first eight minutes, but White rallied to tie it (41-41) at halftime.
Matt Willms scored 18 points for Orange, including a crucial three-point play with 45 seconds remaining that cut the deficit to two (85-83).
Keith Frazier and Tirus Smith scored 15 points each for White.
“Paul Thomas is playing on really one leg right now. His ankle is hurt,” Floyd said. “Matt Willms looked pretty good. Trey Wade made some shots. Isiah Osborne looked good. Keith Frazier is going to be a heck of a player. And all of our old guys, Trey Touchet and Jake Flaggert, all of those guys looked better. We’re working at it. We’re glad the fans turned out, and we’ve got another exhibition game next week that should be fun as well.”
Frazier pulled down a game-high eight rebounds. Thomas, Wade and Willms snared seven boards each.
After the game, Floyd announced that sophomore center Kelvin Jones has chosen to leave the team.
“I think his teammates are devastated. They’re really upset, really bothered. This happened a week before the season, with no indication or any discomfort in any way,” Floyd said. “But it’s going to mean more minutes for Tirus Smith, it’s going to mean more minutes for Trey Wade, it’s going to mean more minutes for Paul Thomas and a healthy Matt Willms. So we’ll just move on.”
The Miners will host Sul Ross State in their exhibition opener on Saturday (Oct. 28) at 1 p.m., prior to the UTEP football team facing UTSA at 6 p.m. in the Sun Bowl. UTEP Basketball season tickets are on sale now by calling (915) 747-6150.