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Home | Tag Archives: Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational

Tag Archives: Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational

Team Line Up Announced for 2018 Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational

The Sun Bowl Association and WestStar Bank are pleased to announce the teams coming to El Paso for the 57th Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, which will be held in the Don Haskins Center, Friday and Saturday, December 21-22.

The four-team tournament includes two top-100 (RPI) teams and a former UTEP-conference rival from the Western Athletic Conference. Wyoming returns to El Paso for the holiday tournament and joins East Tennessee State, Norfolk State and home team, UTEP on the hardwood.

“We appreciate all the hard work that the Sun Bowl committee puts into hosting this tournament, and finding quality opponents to compete in it year in and year out,” said UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry.

East Tennessee State is making its first appearance in the oldest collegiate holiday basketball tournament in the nation, while Wyoming is making its second appearance.  The first time the Cowboys played in the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational was in 2007, going 1-1 that year.

This is Norfolk State’s third appearance in the Invitational after making it to the championship game in 2015.  The Miners have played in every tournament since it began in 1961.

“We are thrilled about this year’s field.  We are hoping to continue our plan of bringing in the best teams we can find,” Sun Bowl basketball committee chairman Barry Kobren said.

“East Tennessee posted an RPI of 92 and Wyoming finished with an RPI of 98 last year.  With the addition of new UTEP head coach Rodney Terry and some great recruits coming to El Paso, this looks to be a very competitive tournament once again.”

The North Dakota State Bison defeated the UTEP Miners 63-51 in the championship game of the 2017 WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational to take home the hardware on Friday, December 22, 2017 in the Don Haskins Center. NDSU used a 19-2 scoring run during the final seven and a half minutes of the game to secure the victory.

Guard Paul Smith, who was awarded the Barry Kobren Most Valuable Player Trophy, led all players with 19 points. Sophomore guard Tyson Ward, who was named to the all-tournament team, tallied 10 points and 11 rebounds.

“This tournament has become a tradition and the history of teams and players that have come through El Paso is tremendous,” Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas said. “Our basketball committee, which is led by Barry Kobren, continues to seek out and work towards bringing quality teams to the Don Haskins Center and El Paso.”

In 2009, the tournament was renamed to honor former UTEP head coach and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Don Haskins. “The Bear” coached at UTEP from 1961 to 1999, winning 719 games and making 14 postseason appearances. Haskins famously led the Miners to victory in the 1966 National Championship game over Adolph Rupp and the heavily favored Kentucky Wildcats.

Officials added, “The Sun Bowl Association would like to thank WestStar Bank for supporting the nation’s oldest holiday basketball tournament as it has been the title sponsor for 10 consecutive years.”

ABOUT THE 2018 TEAMS

East Tennessee State

  • ETSU head coach Steve Forbes enters his fourth season with the Buccaneers, and has totaled 76 wins and a .724 win percentage in his first three seasons. Forbes holds the 14th highest win percentage among current NCAA Division I head coaches.
  • ETSU is a member of the Southern Conference and has made 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament, while totaling 22 conference championships in program history.
  • The Buccaneers are coming off a 25-win campaign in 2017-18, including a 16-game win streak, which tied a program record and also stood as the longest win streak in the country at one point during that run. The Blue and Gold also tied a program record with 11 true road wins a year ago.
  • ETSU boasts one of the nation’s longest three-point streaks, as the Bucs have made at least one three-pointer in 963 consecutive games, marking the seventh-longest active streak.

 

Norfolk State Spartans

  • Head Coach Robert Jones (Sixth Season)
  • NSU finished 14-19 overall last year, 11-5 in the MEAC.
  • The Spartans tied for 4th in the league standings in 2017-18, the first time in 7 years they did not finish 3rd or better.
  • They have still finished 4th or better in the league in 11 of the last 12 seasons.
  • NSU set school records last year for 3-pointers (254) and 3-point field goal % (35.9)
  • The Spartans ranked in the top 60 in the nation last year in turnovers forced, rebounds per game and field goal % defense.
  • Head coach Robert Jones is 87-82 in his 5 seasons, including 58-22 in MEAC games.
  • Played in the 2015 WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational Championship.

 

UTEP Miners

  • Head Coach Rodney Terry (First Season)
  • UTEP Basketball enters a new era in 2018-19 as Rodney Terry was appointed the 19th head coach in program history on March 12.
  • Terry posted four 20-win seasons in the last five years as head coach at Fresno State, leading the Bulldogs to the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
  • Joining Terry on the UTEP staff are assistant coaches Lamont Smith, Brian Burton and Nick Matson, and Director of Basketball Operations Mark Gisbertz.
  • The Miners return four key players from the 2017-18 season in senior forward Paul Thomas (8.1 ppg/5.4 rpg), junior guard Isiah Osborne (9.4 ppg) and sophomore guards Evan Gilyard (9.1 ppg) and Kobe Magee (4.5 ppg).  UTEP also introduces a talented group of incoming freshmen including forward Kaosi Ezeagu, guard Nigel Hawkins and center Efe Odigie.

 

Wyoming Cowboys

  • Head Coach Allen Edwards (Third Season) has won 20 or more games in his first two seasons as head coach.
  • Wyoming is led by First Team All-Mountain West Player Justin James.
  • The Pokes will play their first game in El Paso since 2008 when UW played in the Sun Bowl Invitational.
  • The Cowboys have hit over 300 three pointers in each of the last three seasons.
  • Wyoming has had two of their all-time top three scoring seasons in two seasons under Edwards.
  • 2017 Final RPI – 98
  • 2017 CBI Champion

Miners Tame Bison 69-56; Advance to Championship Friday vs North Dakota State

Keith Frazier recorded his fourth 20-point game of the young season with 23 points and eight rebounds, as UTEP advanced to the championship game of the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational with a 69-56 win over Howard on Thursday night.

The Miners (5-6) will face North Dakota State (6-6) in the championship game on Friday at 7 p.m. as they chase their first title since 2014.  The Bison won Thursday’s opener over UNC Wilmington, 100-63.

“If we don’t guard them, they’ll get 200 [points],” UTEP Interim Head Coach Phil Johnson said.  “They looked like the Celtics tonight.  The old Celtics, not the new Celtics.  The old Larry Bird Celtics.  I mean they pass, they move, they share, they shoot it, they drive, they are really a well functioning machine.  We’ll need a tremendous effort to pull that one out.”

Tirus Smith gave UTEP a lift off the bench for the second straight game Thursday with a career-high 17 points and eight rebounds.  He scored 15 points versus Incarnate Word on Tuesday.

“He is really improving,” Johnson said.  “He gets tired and he keeps plugging and keeps coming and keeps fighting through the fatigue.  And he’s the best listener on our team.  You can give him any little detail and he tries to do it to the best of his ability.  Seventeen [points] and eight [rebounds] in 23 minutes for a freshman … that’s pretty good.”

Omega Harris added 17 points for the Miners, moving into 19th place on UTEP’s all-time scoring list (1,185 points).

The Miners looked like they were going to blow the Bison out of the water as they bolted to a 22-4 lead in the first 10 minutes.  The Miners led 30-15 before Howard went on a 13-3 run to pull within five at 33-28.  UTEP took a 37-30 lead into the locker room.

UTEP opened the second half with a 9-2 run to go ahead by 14 points (46-32) and maintained a double-digit cushion the rest of the night.  The Miners led by as many as 20 points in the final minutes.

“Those guys, they guard pretty good,” Johnson said.  “I give their coach a lot of credit.  He has played a lot of tough teams and they don’t ever quit fighting.  And they kept fighting really hard, and I thought we played smarter than we have, especially with the lead late.  But overall, I was pretty happy with our team.”

UTEP limited Howard to 31.1 percent shooting and contained star freshman R.J. Cole, who came in averaging 20.4 points with seven 20-point games.  Cole scored 17, but missed 14 of his 19 shots and six of nine from three-point range.

“We really wanted to do the job on Cole, and for the most part we did,” Johnson said.  “We were blitzing him every time on every screen and roll, and that was Paul [Thomas] and Tirus.  And we didn’t want to go foul him because he’s great at creating contact and getting to the free throw line.  That’s how he’s scoring a lot of points.  And 17 [points] is kind of something that you can live with, he’s such a good offensive player and he took 19 shots to get those 17 points.”

For the second time in three games, the Miners only had six turnovers while dishing out 12 assists led by Harris with four.

“[Twelve assists] is not an unbelievable amount.  I’d rather have 20, but [on Tuesday] we had five,” Johnson said.  “So I’m real pleased with that.  And six turnovers, we had 18 the other night.  So what an improvement.”

Photo Gallery by Andres Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post

H-P Sports In-Depth: Miners Looking to Extend Win Streak in Sun Bowl Tourney

Undersized and undermanned, the UTEP Miners have won three straight games to carry momentum into this weekend’s 56th Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.

They’ll chase their first title since 2014 when the ball is tipped up against the Howard Bison on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center.

Joining UTEP (4-6) and Howard (2-11) in the tournament are North Dakota State (5-6) and UNC Wilmington (2-7), who will square off at 5 p.m. on Thursday. The consolation game is on Friday at 5, with the championship to follow at 7.

The Miners, who were down to eight scholarship players in Tuesday’s 72-66 triumph over Incarnate Word, may add Isiah Osborne to their mix this weekend. The sophomore guard has been battling strep throat.

“He looks skinnier than I do and probably more out of shape than I am, and that’s hard to beat,” UTEP Interim Head Coach Phil Johnson said. “But I just told him to get some running in here and get your strength back. Hopefully we’ll try to bring him back into the fold and he’ll play some this week.”

The Miners have averaged 78.7 points per game during the win streak, shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 75 percent from the line. They scored 32 points off turnovers on Tuesday, their top total in a game in eight years.

“We’re not a finished product by any means,” Johnson said. “In fact, I told our team we’re probably playing somewhere near 30 percent what I think we can play on both ends of the floor, and particularly defensively. And with that said, we gave up [28] points in a half [on Tuesday] and I thought it was poor. I thought it was not as good as it needs to be. But I’m happy with the win, and we’re getting ready for a tremendous event. I think all four teams are good teams. I don’t care what the records are. I look at Howard and who they’ve played in these guarantee games to raise money against Georgetown, Indiana and many others, and how they have hung in there and fought hard. We have watched film of them. I’m really impressed with their talent and the job that they’re doing.”

The Bison has played 10 of its first 13 games on the road. Howard has split its last two games, beating Washington Adventist at home on Dec. 14 (76-65) before dropping a 62-60 decision at Jacksonville State on Dec. 18. Freshman guard R.J. Cole has taken a big bite out of the Bison offense, averaging 20.4 ppg (Howard averages 68.2 ppg as a team). Cole, who prepped at St. Anthony High School in Union, N.J., is shooting 36 percent from the field, 33.7 percent from outside (team-leading 32 three-point field goals) and 83.5 percent from the line. He scored his season-best 30 points versus Washington Adventist and has compiled 27 points twice (against Indiana and Jacksonville State).

Sophomore guard/forward Charles Williams is second on the team in scoring (18 ppg), while freshman forward Zion Cousins produces a team-high 7.6 rebounds per outing. The Bison has been a good free throw shooting team (.735 percentage), but has struggled on the boards (-8.3 rebound margin). This is a young squad as four of the top five scorers are freshmen.

After Howard, the Miners will face either UNC Wilmington, which went to the NCAA Tournament and won 29 games last season, or North Dakota State, which is coming off a 19-victory campaign.

“We’ll have to play very well to have a chance to win any games in this event,” Johnson said.

***Miners In-Depth

UTEP PARTICIPATES IN 56TH ANNUAL SUN BOWL TOURNEY
Winners of three straight games, the UTEP Miners (4-6) take part in the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational on Thursday and Friday (Dec. 21-22) in the Haskins Center. Thursday’s matchups are North Dakota State (5-6) versus UNC Wilmington (2-7) at 5 p.m., and UTEP versus Howard (2-11) at 7 p.m. The consolation game is at 5 on Friday, with the championship to follow at 7. UNC Wilmington posted 29 victories a year ago and participated in the NCAA Tournament, while North Dakota State fashioned a 19-win campaign. UTEP has posted an all-time record of 84-26 in the Sun Bowl Invitational. The Miners have won titles on 31 occasions and played in the championship game 43 times (there was no championship game in 2010). The event originated in 1961 as the Sun Carnival Basketball Tournament and took Don Haskins’ name in 2009.

ON THE AIR
The English radio broadcast is available on KOFX 92.3 FM with Jon Teicher (play-by-play) and Steve Yellen (color) calling the action. A Spanish radio broadcast is available on ESPN Deportes 1650 AM, with Omar Ropele on the mike.

SUN BOWL INVITATIONAL EXPERIENCE
Five players on the UTEP roster have participated in the Sun Bowl Invitational — Jake Flaggert (six games), Omega Harris (six games), Paul Thomas (four games), Trey Touchet (four games) and Matt Willms (six games). Harris has averaged 13.5 ppg in the tournament with a .484 (15-for-31) three-point field goal percentage. Willms has made 20-of-30 shots (.667) in the Sun Bowl Invitational, averaging 8.7 points.

ABOUT HOWARD
The Bison has played 10 of its first 13 games on the road and is 2-11 thus far in 2017-18 (2-1 at home, 0-10 on the road). Howard has split its last two games, beating Washington Adventist at home on Dec. 14 (76-65) before dropping a 62-60 decision at Jacksonville State on Dec. 18. Freshman guard R.J. Cole has taken a big bite out of the Bison offense, averaging 20.4 ppg (Howard averages 68.2 ppg as a team). Cole, who prepped at St. Anthony High School in Union, N.J., is shooting 36 percent from the field, 33.7 percent from outside (team-leading 32 three-point field goals) and 83.5 percent from the line. He scored his season-best 30 points versus Washington Adventist and has compiled 27 points twice (against Indiana and Jacksonville State). Overall, Cole has seven 20-point games on the year. He rated 21st nationally in assists per game (6.4), 23rd in three-point field goal attempts (95) and 25th in free throw attempts (85) through Dec. 19. Sophomore guard/forward Charles Williams is second on the team in scoring (18 ppg), while freshman forward Zion Cousins produces a team-high 7.6 rebounds per outing. As a team, Howard averages 7.6 three-pointers made and 23.5 attempts per contest. The Bison has been a good free throw shooting team (.735 percentage), but has struggled on the boards (-8.3 rebound margin). This is a young squad as four of the top five scorers are freshmen.

SERIES HISTORY
The Miners lead the series 1-0. UTEP topped Howard, 73-56, in the UTEP Metromobile Invitational on Dec. 5, 1987 in El Paso.

THE LAST MEETING
Tim Hardaway scored 16 points to lead five Miners in double figures as they broke away from a 33-33 halftime deadlock and beat Howard, 73-56, on Dec. 5, 1987 in El Paso. UTEP outscored the Bison 40-23 in the second half. The game was tied at 39 with about 15 minutes remaining, and the Miners were only up by six (51-45) around the 10-minute mark. But UTEP went on a 15-3 run over the next five minutes and surged to a 66-48 lead. Wayne Campbell scored 15 points for the Miners, while Chris Blocker added 12, Jerry Jones 11 and Antonio Davis 10. The Miners had a 24-13 advantage in made free throws and outrebounded the Bison 35-25 led by Campbell (eight boards). UTEP also forced 20 turnovers.

LAST GAME
With only eight scholarship players available due to injuries and illness, UTEP battled back to upend Incarnate Word for its third consecutive victory, 72-66, on Tuesday at the Haskins Center. UTEP was minus Isiah Osborne (strep throat) and Matt Willms, who is recovering from a broken hand, as well as Trey Wade, who was out of town with family following the passing of his grandmother. The Miners were also coming off a 10-day break between games, and the rust showed throughout.

But UTEP finally got going after UIW took a six-point lead, 49-43, midway through the second half. What followed was a 10-1 run, which ended with UTEP back in front 53-50. The Miners wouldn’t trail again, although UIW closed to within a point (56-55) on a three-pointer by Simi Socks with 5:57 remaining. UTEP responded with a 11-2 run, upping the ante to 67-57 with about two minutes left. The Miners were able to close it out despite a subpar night at the free throw line (12-for-23, 52.2 percent). Smith gave the Miners a major boost inside, making 7-of-11 shots while pulling down six rebounds.

Paul Thomas led UTEP with 16 points, while Omega Harris had 15 and Kobe Magee scored all 12 of his points in the second half. Socks led the Cardinals with 21 points. UIW outrebounded UTEP 33-30, although the Miners won the battle of the boards (18-16) after halftime. The Miners shot 61.5 percent in the second half, when they outscored UIW 44-38. It was a sloppy game on both sides, as UTEP finished with 18 turnovers to the Cardinals’ 25. The Miners scored 32 points off turnovers, and UIW scored 22.

STREAKING MINERS
Following a six-game losing skid, UTEP has reeled off three victories in a row for the first time since a five-game win streak from Feb. 11-25, 2017. The Miners are 3-0 in the month of December for the first time since 2010. UTEP won its first four games in December that year and finished 6-1 for the month.

BREAKING DOWN THE STREAK
During their three-game win streak, the Miners have averaged 78.7 points per game (they averaged 65.6 ppg in the first seven games of the season). UTEP has also hiked its field goal percentage from .412 to .491 (81-for-165), and its free throw percentage from .656 to .750 (54-for-72). The Miners have a turnover margin of +4.3 per game during the streak, compared to -0.3 in the first seven contests. The win streak has coincided with senior guard Omega Harris and junior forward Paul Thomas looking more like themselves. Harris is averaging 20.3 ppg during the streak, shooting 61.3 percent (19-for-31) from the field, 70 percent (7-for-10) from three and 84.2 percent (16-for-19) from the line. Thomas is averaging 12.3 ppg during the streak with a field goal percentage of .556 (15-for-27). In the first seven games, Harris averaged 9.4 ppg and Thomas 7.4 ppg.

SO FAR SO GOOD UNDER PHIL
UTEP moved to 3-1 under Interim Head Coach Phil Johnson with Tuesday’s 72-66 triumph over Incarnate Word. The four-game start is the best by a UTEP rookie head coach since Tim Floyd was also 3-1 to start his Miner tenure during the 2010-11 season. Three other Miner coaches won at least three of their first four games on the bench — Jason Rabedeaux (3-1), Doc Sadler (3-1) and Tony Barbee (3-1). Only Sadler got to 4-1 during the 2004-05 campaign.

WINNING FORMULA
UTEP has averaged 84 points per game in its four victories this season, as six players have averaged at least 10 points per game (Omega Harris 18.3 ppg, Keith Frazier 14.3 ppg, Paul Thomas 13.3 ppg, Isiah Osborne 10.3 ppg, Matt Willms 10.0 ppg, Trey Wade 10.0 ppg). The Miners have shot 51.5 percent from the field (118-for-229) in their wins and have a positive (+2.0) rebound margin. They have also forced 70 turnovers (17.5 avg.) while coughing up the basketball only 51 times (12.8 avg.). Another stat that jumps out at you in the Miners’ four victories is a 10-2 advantage in blocked shots, helping lead to a .393 (86-for-219) defensive field goal percentage.

THOMAS LEADS IN POINTS, REBOUNDS
Paul Thomas has produced 365 points and 241 rebounds in 42 games for the Miners since the start of the 2016-17 season. But he has only led the team in scoring and rebounding in a game on three occasions during that span. The latest was on Tuesday versus Incarnate Word, when he tallied 16 points and eight boards. Thomas also achieved the feat in back-to-back outings at North Texas (23 points/14 rebounds) and Rice (17 points/11 rebounds) in February of this year, earning Conference USA Player of the Week honors for his efforts.

THOMAS STEPS UP
Junior forward Paul Thomas averaged 7.4 points in the first seven games of the season, but has scored in double figures in three consecutive outings for the first time in 2017-18. Thomas has been an “X-Factor” of sorts for the Miners this season as they are 4-1 when he scores in double figures. UTEP is 13-6 in Thomas’ career when he tallies 10 points or more.

TIRUS’ TURN
Freshman forward Tirus Smith became the sixth Miner to score in double figures off the bench in a game this season when he put 15 points and six rebounds on the board versus Incarnate Word on Tuesday. Smith, who connected on 7-of-11 shots from the field, played his UTEP-best 28 minutes and led the Miners to a 22-14 edge in bench points. The other Miners who have scored in double figures in a reserve role this season are Keith Frazier (versus Appalachian State), Evan Gilyard (Washington State), Kobe Magee (New Mexico), Isiah Osborne (Louisiana College) and Trey Wade (Louisiana College & Lamar).

ANOTHER BIG HALF FOR MAGEE
Freshman guard Kobe Magee has scored in double figures twice in his young UTEP career, and put together a big half in both games. On Dec. 2 versus New Mexico, he scored 11 of his 16 points in the first 20 minutes. And on Tuesday against Incarnate Word, he scored all 12 of his points in the second half. In each half, Magee made five of his six shot attempts.

FORCING THE ISSUE
The Miners forced 25 turnovers versus Incarnate Word on Tuesday, the most by a UTEP opponent since Western New Mexico had 26 on Dec. 28, 2010. The Miners scored a season-high 32 points off turnovers versus the Cardinals, their top game total since tallying 45 against Norfolk State on Dec. 28, 2009.

100-GAME CLUB
Matt Willms appeared in his 100th game for UTEP versus Washington State. Willms is the second member of this year’s roster to play in 100 games as Jake Flaggert has appeared in 102 contests. Omega Harris is closing in on the century mark himself with 98 games played.

WILLMS’ CAREER
Matt Willms has collected 760 points, 448 rebounds and 109 blocks in his UTEP career. He rates seventh in school history in blocked shots. He is chasing John Tofi, who sits in sixth place with 110 rejections. Willms has blocked 11 shots in only five games this season, and tied his career-high with five versus Boise State in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. His career field goal percentage of .574 (300-for-523) would rank third in the UTEP record book behind Cedrick Lang (.581) and Brandon Wolfram (.579). Willms is currently out while he continues to rehab a hand injury.

HARRIS’ CAREER HIGH
Omega Harris scored a career-high 28 points versus New Mexico on Dec. 2. The 28 points were the most by a UTEP player since Lee Moore tallied 30 against FIU in the Conference USA Tournament on March 9, 2016. Harris matched his career-best with nine field goals made against the Lobos. Harris picked up the 12th 20-point game of his college career versus UNM. The Miners are 6-0 in the last six games that Harris has scored 20 points or more (dating back to the 2016-17 season), compared to 2-4 in the first six games that he did so.

HARRIS & THE UTEP CHARTS
Omega Harris has continued his climb up the UTEP career charts in 2017-18. He is currently 23rd in scoring with 1,168 points after passing William Smith in the Incarnate Word game. He is chasing Charlie Brown (22nd, 1,170 points), Fred Reynolds (21st, 1,181 points), Juden Smith (20th, 1,182 points) and Julian Washburn (19th, 1,186 points). Harris is tied for fourth in three-point field goals (140) with Mark Ingles. He is 13th in steals (105). Harris has logged 3,077 minutes in a Miner uniform, an average of 31.4 per game. Harris is only 75 minutes away from etching his name on the all-time UTEP top-15 chart.

MINERS GETTING PRODUCTION FROM FRESHMEN PG’S
Freshmen point guards Evan Gilyard and Kobe Magee have been difference makers during the Miners’ three-game win streak. Gilyard scored all 10 of his points in the second half as UTEP rallied past Washington State, 76-69 on Dec. 9. He was 8-for-8 from the line versus the Cougars and is 18-for-20 (.900) from the stripe in 2017-18. Gilyard has made 17 of 18 free throws over the last nine games. He is tied for first on the team in steals (nine) and second in assists (19). Magee scored his season-high 16 points versus New Mexico, and added 12 points against Incarnate Word.

FOLLOWING FRAZIER
Grad transfer Keith Frazier picked up the third 20-point game of his young UTEP career against Washington State on Dec. 9. He led the Miners in points (21) and rebounds (eight) versus the Cougars, marking the second time he has done so in 2017-18. Frazier also paced UTEP with 22 points and 10 boards against Boise State on Nov. 16. Frazier, who scored 25 points versus Appalachian State on Nov. 19, has been the Miners’ top rebounder in five of the first 10 contests. Overall he is tied for the team lead with 13.4 ppg and rates second on the squad with 6.0 rpg. He is on pace to make 74 three-pointers over 31 games, which would be the eighth-most in a season in school history.

NEWCOMER PRODUCTION
UTEP has received 55.5 percent of its points (386-of-695), 59 percent of its rebounds (184-of-312) and 52.8 percent of its assists (57-of-108) from players in the first year wearing the Orange and Blue uniform. A newcomer has led the Miners in scoring in seven of 10 games, and a freshman has been UTEP’s top scorer in three contests.

VETS CARRYING THE LOAD
Including grad transfer Keith Frazier, UTEP has received 48.3 percent of its points (336-of-695), 43.6 percent of its rebounds (136-of-312) and 42.6 percent of its assists (46-of-108) from players who are in their final year in the Orange and Blue. The Miners’ top three scorers are Frazier (13.4 ppg), senior Matt Willms (13.4 ppg) and senior Omega Harris (12.7 ppg). If that holds up, UTEP’s top three scorers would be seniors for the first time since 2010-11 when the top five scorers (Randy Culpepper, Christian Polk, Jeremy Williams, Julyan Stone, Claude Britten) were in their final year of eligibility.

EIGHT LINEUPS
UTEP has utilized eight different starting lineups in the first 10 games of the season. Omega Harris and Paul Thomas are the only players to start every game. All 11 scholarship players have made starts in 2017-18 after nine players started last season.

CHARGE CLUB
While Jake Flaggert has traditionally been known as the Miners’ resident “charge drawer,” a freshman duo has gotten into the act in 2017-18. Evan Gilyard and Tirus Smith lead the squad with five charges drawn each. Together they have accounted for 71.4 percent (10-of-14) of the Miners’ charges drawn this season.

JAKE TAKES CHARGE
Jake Flaggert led Conference USA in charges drawn in both 2015-16 (18) and 2016-17 (33). He has taken four charges in limited action this season, giving him 61 in his career.

WestStar Bank Returns as Title Sponsor for Annual Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational

The Sun Bowl Association announced the extension of its partnership with WestStar Bank as the title sponsor for the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational through 2019.  WestStar Bank originally signed on as the title sponsor in 2009.

“The Sun Bowl Association has built a family of successful and popular events and we’re excited to continue as the title sponsor of the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational,” said L. Frederick “Rick” Francis, WestStar Bank Chairman and CEO. “We’re committed to being associated with many of El Paso’s traditions that have become a part of the fabric of our region. For many, this tournament is that – a holiday tradition – and we’re happy to be able to connect with our local community in this way.”

WestStar Bank and its employees are very involved with and in the community. Employees of WestStar Bank serve on over 95 boards and committees of nonprofit and civic organizations.

“We cannot produce events like the basketball tournament, which has been running since 1961, without great sponsors like WestStar Bank,” said Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas.  “We are extremely grateful for WestStar Bank and everything they have done for the Sun Bowl Association and the City of El Paso.  Tournament Chairman Barry Kobren does an amazing job putting everything together and every team that visits El Paso leaves with great memories.”

The WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational is the nation’s oldest collegiate holiday basketball tournament. This year marks the 56th edition of the event that began in 1961, when legendary head coach Don Haskins was in his first year as the head coach at UTEP, then known as Texas Western.

Haskins amassed 719 career wins as the head coach of the Miners for 38 seasons. He led the Miners to the 1966 NCAA title, won seven Western Athletic Conference championships, four WAC tournament titles, had fourteen NCAA tournament berths and made seven trips to the NIT. Haskins engineered 17 20-plus win seasons and served as an assistant Olympic team coach in 1972. He led the Miners to 23 tournament titles in the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.

Haskins was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997 as a basketball coach. The 1966 team was named in its entirety to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

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