The UTEP men’s basketball team will embark on its first foreign tour in 12 years on Tuesday.
The Miners will spend four full days in Costa Rica, where they will play three games versus Canadian teams while sampling the culture and landscape of the beautiful Central American country.
“Ideally what we’d like out of this trip is for everybody to get a lot of minutes,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “We’ve got three ballgames. We’d like for our players to play in different situations, different roles. We might have big lineups out there with big guards. We might have three small guards out there at one time, and two bigs at one time. We’re hoping for some kind of carryover from what we’ve worked on in practice. We’d like to come out of this injury-free and we’d like to come out of it a more experienced team.”
The Miners will depart for Dallas on Tuesday morning, and arrive in San Jose at 6 p.m. local time. They have games scheduled versus McGill University on Wednesday (7 p.m.) and Thursday (5 p.m.), and the University of British Columbia on Friday (11:30 a.m.). The team will arrive in El Paso mid-afternoon on Sunday after enjoying an off-day Saturday.
The Miners’ visit will include a tour of San Jose on Wednesday, a visit to the Holy Spirit orphanage on Thursday, a walk across a crocodile bridge on Friday and a Zip Line experience on Saturday.
From a basketball standpoint, the Miners will take on a McGill University team out of Montreal that has already played four games versus Division I opponents this month. The Redmen lost to Alabama (96-57), SMU (86-83 in overtime) and Towson (84-53) in Montreal and beat Kent State (85-79) on Monday afternoon in Costa Rica.
The starting lineup for the first game against McGill University, based on a fan vote, will feature three freshmen – forward Tirus Smith and guards Evan Gilyard and Trey Wade, who will joined by senior forward Jake Flaggert and senior center Matt Willms.
NCAA teams are permitted to take foreign tours once every four years. The 2005-06 Miners went to Madrid and the Canary Islands and also played three games versus Telde, UD Vecindario and Gran Canaria.
Tickets to the “UTEP Basketball Preseason Preview,” a scrimmage with proceeds helping fund the team’s trip to Costa Rica, will go on sale Monday (July 24) at the University Ticket Center.
The event will feature a scrimmage with returning UTEP players competing against newcomers, a slam dunk contest and three-point shootout, and an autograph session. Complimentary 2017-18 schedule posters will be available.
Concessions will be sold.
The Miners will depart for Costa Rica on Tuesday, Aug. 15 and play three games before returning to El Paso on Sunday, Aug. 20.
Fans will have the opportunity to vote for the starting lineup for the first game in Costa Rica at the Aug. 12 event.
The “UTEP Basketball Preseason Preview” will start at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12 in the Haskins Center.
General admission seats are $10. The University Ticket Center has two locations, one at 2901 North Mesa (next to the Don Haskins Center) and the other on the East side at 1452 Zaragoza Suite A500. The phone number is 747-5234.
Tickets will also be sold online with surcharges applying.
Omega Harris scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half as UTEP rallied from an 11-point deficit and beat UAB, 63-59, on Thursday night at the Haskins Center for its fifth win in six games.
“I thought our crowd was just great,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “We were down nine [at halftime], couldn’t make a shot, came out in the second half and just an educated UTEP crowd reacted to two or three defensive stops, layups, runouts going the other way, and got behind our guys. Our guys started believing a little bit. They needed that in the worst way.”
The Miners (7-14, 5-4 C-USA) moved above .500 in Conference USA play while knocking the defending C-USA regular season champion Blazers (14-9, 7-3 C-USA) three games behind league leader Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders, winners of 10 straight, will come to the Haskins Center for a 6 p.m. showdown on Saturday.
UTEP shot 31.8 percent in the first half but found its offensive groove over the final 20 minutes, shooting 57.7 percent and outscoring UAB 44-31. After getting dominated on the boards in the first half, the Miners posted a slim rebounding advantage (16-15) after halftime. They also committed just three turnovers in the second half.
“We had given up 37 percent at halftime and we were down nine,” Floyd said. “At one point we were shooting nine percent from the floor. In the first half we had wide-open looks and just kept playing. The team is maturing from the standpoint that we didn’t let our lack of offense influence us on the defensive end. We just kept guarding. We got a couple traps and steals out of a little halfcourt press that coach [Bobby] Braswell put out and it really, really helped us. Coach [Phil] Johnson had a great plan with the man to man defense on the other end. We got a little help out of the box and one.”
A 21-6 run in the second half turned a 36-29 deficit into a 50-42 lead. Harris scored eight points in the run, and Dominic Artis finished it off with a three-pointer and a layup off his own steal. The Miners scored eight points off eight UAB turnovers in the second half, and Artis registered four of his career-high tying five steals after halftime.
The Blazers cut a 10-point UTEP lead (56-46) down to three on three separate occasions over the last two minutes, but the Miners made just enough timely buckets down the stretch to finish them off.
Harris was 7-for-10 from the field and 4-for-4 from the line in the second half. Artis collected 11 points, five rebounds and eight assists. Matt Willms had 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
“Omega probably had his best half as a Miner in the second half when we really needed buckets, needed somebody to make a play,” Floyd said. “D.A. had a couple of nice plays out of high screen and roll, throws to Matt for a lob dunk and turned the corner and got it to the rim once or twice. He was really struggling from the field. He got to the rim and made a layup and he kind of got his head up and made a three.”
The Miners shot 45.8 percent with only 10 turnovers. UAB shot 39.3 percent and outrebounded UTEP 39-32. Both teams struggled at the line with UTEP finishing 15-for-25 and UAB 9-for-18. The Miners were much better at the stripe in the second half (11-for-15).
“Our team still has so much room for growth,” Floyd said. “I think we can shoot it better than we shot it. It was nice to see Jake [Flaggert] make a couple tonight. I’m real proud of our guys. Trey [Touchet] gave us some solid minutes, didn’t turn it over. We handled their full court pressure really well with one exception when we threw it length of the floor out of bounds but kind of regrouped. It’s fun to watch them grow.”
The Miners will have their hands full on Saturday but will try to keep the hot streak going.
“I just hope our crowd will come back out here Saturday night and regroup again and recognize and try to admire the fact that we are a team in progress, a team that’s growing,” Floyd said. “We’re going to play a team that in my opinion is a top-15 team in the country. It will be another great test.”
GALLERY BY Andres Acosta, Chief Photographer – El Paso Herald-Post
The spirit and memories of the 1966 NCAA Texas Western Championship is revived through photos, memorabilia, a mural featuring the champions and family stories at a recently opened boutique bar at Mesa and Cincinnati streets.
The boutique bar, aptly named Spirit 66, is looking to open Dec. 30 – Sun Bowl weekend- at 2712 N. Mesa. Updates on opening day may be found at Spiritof66elpaso on Facebook and Instagram.
Bar owner, Isabel Salcido, 31, said the idea stemmed from her love of the university’s history and her family’s stories.
Last year UTEP celebrated the 50 th anniversary of the historic NCAA Championship win when Texas Western College won the championship game against Kentucky State. Furthermore, then head coach, Don Haskins, made a historic move by starting five African American players – a move that forever changed college basketball.
Texas Western was renamed the University of Texas at El Paso a year later.
“Being raised here in El Paso, my grandparents would take my parents to the basketball games, and then my parents took me to the games,” Salcido said. “And they would tell me about the 1966 basketball team. My family was a real influence on me and I wanted the project to mean something – you know business with a purpose.”
A 2012 UTEP graduate, Salcido said she bartended at Liquor Dicks – the very location where Spirit of 66 opened – to help pay her bills through college. When she was done and received her bachelor’s degrees in Finance and Computer Information Systems, she said she wanted to open up a unique bar across from UTEP that would honor the 1966 Basketball Team.
“There are a lot of people in El Paso that don’t know the history and I want to embrace it and show them what the spirit was here,” Salcido said. “And it’s just a piece of UTEP’s history that I want to share with everyone else.”
Spirit 66 showcases a mural that depicts the staring line up of the 1966 Texas Western Basketball team holding the NCAA Trophy. Above them, a profile of Don Haskins yelling at the team, with his alter ego – a grizzly bear – roaring from behind.
Artist Nacho Garcia Jr., was asked to take on the project of the mural honoring the 1966 Basketball Team from Texas Western. Garcia was a freshman at Texas Western when Haskins was coaching what would be known as the 1966 NCAAChampionship Team. The basketball games at the time were held at Memorial Gym.
“When I saw these guys play you could tell it was different,” Garcia said. “Haskins stressed defense. Not this run-and- shoot offensive game that, at the time, all the colleges were running and shooting. So, all the teams they played were not prepared for it. ”
The hardest part of completing the mural is getting the eyes just right, Garcia said. Garcia said the mural was a testament to those members on the team that have passed – Harry Flournoy, Bobby Joe Hill, and of course head coach Don Haskins.
Flournoy passed in November at 72; Hill died at age 59, in December 2002; and Haskins died at the age of 78 in September 2008.
“No other Texas college has ever reached the NCAA,” Garcia said. “We are the only ones in the whole state of Texas that made it that far and achieved it. Don came close in the 70s and in the 80s – and they’d go to the sweet 16, but they never duplicated this. And it’s an achievement that may never be duplicated.”
For more information visit Spiritof66elpaso on Facebook and Instagram.
RUSTON, LA. – Dominic Artis came up one assist shy of registering only the second triple-double in school history, but UTEP came up just short at LA Tech on Sunday, 78-70.
Artis finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals for the Miners (11-11, 3-6 C-USA), who will start the second half of their Conference USA schedule at home this week against Marshall (Thursday, 7:05 p.m.) and WKU (Saturday, 3 p.m.). On Saturday, the 1966 national championship team will return to El Paso and be honored on its 50th anniversary.
UTEP fought gamely at LA Tech (16-5, 5-3 C-USA) on Sunday but committed a season-high 23 turnovers – leading to 19 points for the Bulldogs – and couldn’t get the stops on defense necessary down the stretch.
LA Tech also went 11-for-15 at the charity stripe in the second half.
“We had a goal to not get beat at the foul line on the road, which has been a real problem for us,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “We were in really good shape. We gave up six free throws in the first half. For the most part we did a pretty good job. That’s why we played zone tonight, which is not what I like to do.”
The Miners led 33-32 at the half, fell behind by nine points in the second half, then closed to within four twice in the final two and a half minutes. After Hooper Vint – who battled foul trouble – scored to make it 68-64 with 2:18 to go, LA Tech’s Erik McCree converted a layup of his own to push the lead back to six. After Artis made two free throws with 1:45 to play, Alex Hamilton scored a layup to extend the lead to six again. Artis split two free throws, then Merrill Holden started a run of four straight points for the Bulldogs with free throws. That put LA Tech ahead 76-67 with time ticking away.
“We gave up too many good looks in the second half when we tried to go man with about six minutes to go. It was brutal,” Floyd said. “They scored on three consecutive possessions and we paid a price. By and large there was some improvement other than the ball handling. We’ll try to go back home and see if we can’t do some things a little better when we get back to El Paso.”
Positives for the Miners … they outrebounded only their second league opponent of the season (38-34). They shot 50.9 percent from the field and kept the Bulldogs under 40 percent up until the last few minutes.
They also did a decent job on Bulldogs stars Hamilton and McCree for 26 minutes before they came alive down the stretch, combining for 19 points over the final 13:27.
LA Tech finished 12-for-27 from three-point range with Jacobi Boykins (5-for-7) and Dayon Griffin (4-for-9) combining to go 9-for-16. The Bulldogs were 7-for-18 from outside in the first half. That, coupled with the Miners coughing up the ball 15 times, kept the Bulldogs in it despite shooting 30 percent and getting outrebounded 23-14 over the opening 20 minutes.
All five starters scored in double figures for LA Tech with Boykins (18 points) leading the way. Griffin added 16, Hamilton and McCree 14 each, and Holden 12. McCree grabbed 13 rebounds.
Artis shot 9-for-16 from the field and 4-for-6 from the line.
“We got great play from Dominic Artis tonight, which was really encouraging,” Floyd said. “He played at a high level. But not so good play from several others. Too many turnovers. We had 15 at the half. We could’ve been up 12, 14 in the first half. But it was mistake after mistake handling the ball with our guys.”
Terry Winn scored 13 points, while Omega Harris and Earvin Morris added 10 apiece. Harris scored the first six points as UTEP marched to a 6-0 lead. The Miners were up by seven (21-14) with eight minutes remaining in the half, but LA Tech went on a 14-4 run to lead 28-25.
The Miners will be home for four of their next six games and five of the final nine as they complete the back end of their C-USA slate.
HATTIESBURG, MISS. – Quinton Campbell, Kourtlin Jackson and Khari Price combined for 31 second-half points as Southern Miss erased a big deficit in Hattiesburg once again and beat UTEP, 71-58, on Thursday at Reed Green Coliseum.
This time the Golden Eagles (6-12, 3-4 C-USA) rallied from 15 down in the first half. The Miners (11-10, 3-5 C-USA) led 30-26 at the half, but scored 16 points in the first 15 minutes of the second half. They were outscored 29-16 during that period.
The Miners made four three-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the first half, bolting to leads of 8-0 and 22-7. Southern Miss hunkered down on defense and held UTEP to eight points over the final 9:11.
“We had a lead,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “The lead probably could’ve been bigger than it was. We weren’t very efficient on the interior in terms of finishing, other than Tevin Caldwell. We missed a lot of point-blank shots that we got at the rim. I thought we let that affect us a little bit.”
The Golden Eagles went on an 11-0 run after UTEP went ahead 36-31 early in the second half. They made three three-pointers during that spurt, one each from Raheem Watts, Michael Ramey and Campbell.
UTEP was able to regain the lead, 43-42, with five straight points from Lee Moore who scored a game-high 18. But Southern Miss countered with six in a row, all from Jackson, to surge ahead 48-43. After the Miners cut it to 3 (48-45) on two free throws by Trey Touchet, the Golden Eagles put together a 10-1 run, leaving UTEP down by 12 (58-46) with 3:45 to play.
The Miners cut it to five twice in the last 1:04 but Southern Miss iced it with free throws. The Golden Eagles were 23-for-29 at the stripe, 16-for-19 in the second half.
UTEP was 10-for-15 from the line. The free throw discrepancy was important on a night where UTEP shot 40 percent to Southern Miss’ 33 and matched the Golden Eagles on the boards (36-36).
“We rebounded with them. We made more field goals than our opponent,” Floyd said. “There were a lot of block charge situations that didn’t go our way tonight.”
Earvin Morris joined Moore in double figures with 13 points. He scored 10 of the Miners’ 28 in the second half.
Jackson scored 15 points, Campbell 13, Robert Thomas 12 and Price 10 for Southern Miss, which has won five straight over the Miners in Hattiesburg while overcoming big deficits each time.
“We lost the lead when Lee Moore and Omega Harris were out of the game in the first half with their foul situations,” Floyd said. “We’re really struggling to score right now when those two guys aren’t making goals. We’ll have to go back, regroup, and see if we can find some fight in us to go play a very good Louisiana Tech team.”
The Miners will head to Ruston to take on the Bulldogs Sunday at 2 p.m. MT. The game will be nationally televised on Fox Sports Networks.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – Earvin Morris scored 22 of his 28 points after halftime as UTEP rallied from a 17-point deficit and beat Colorado State, 99-90 in double overtime, to capture the championship of the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic on Saturday afternoon at the American Bank Center.
The Miners are 6-0 for the first time in 15 years and won an in-season tournament outside of their own Sun Bowl Invitational for the first time since December of 1984, when they finished first at the Saluki Shootout in Carbondale, Ill.
UTEP joined Virginia and TCU as champions of the three-year event.
Morris was named tournament MVP after making 10-of-17 shots and 7-of-8 free throws. Lee Moore matched him with 28 points, 20 after halftime. Hooper Vint added 13 points and nine rebounds, and Terry Winn scored 12 points.
Moore and Vint were named to the All-Tournament Team.
The Miners trailed 47-30 at halftime after Colorado State (5-1) made nine three pointers and enjoyed a 37-14 rebounding advantage.
“We didn’t holler and scream at them,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said of the halftime adjustments. “We just said ‘Hey look, our offense is contributing to us getting killed on the boards, taking one pass shots and the long rebounds. We’ve got to attack more and we’ll be more aggressive.
“I just think we were so thoroughly dominated in the first half that it was probably hard for [Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy] to get his guys to believe that we could come back.”
To the Miners’ credit, however, they opened the second half with 10 straight points to close the gap to 47-40. Colorado State was able to push the lead back to 11 (61-50) with under nine minutes remaining, but UTEP kept chipping away. Down 62-52, the Miners went on a 9-0 run and pulled within one (62-61) on a three-point play by Moore with 5:13 to go.
UTEP finally tied it at 66 on a free throw by Moore at the 3:35 mark. After Colorado State reinstated a three-point lead (73-70) on a jumper by Emmanuel Omogbo with 1:24 to play, Morris buried a three pointer to send it to overtime.
The Miners took their first lead since 20-18 on a jumper by Morris with 4:13 left in overtime. That put UTEP ahead 75-73. The Miners had an 81-79 lead in the final 30 seconds of the first overtime, but the Rams’ Gian Clavell tied it with a layup and Dominic Artis missed a jumper with one second remaining.
UTEP never trailed in the second overtime. The Miners scored the first four points on layups by Vint and Morris. They went up by six (91-85) on two free throws by Moore with 2:26 on the clock. Clavell answered with a three to cut the deficit in half.
Moore missed a three, the Rams secured the defensive rebound, and Prentiss Nixon missed the potential game-tying three pointer. Tevin Caldwell secured the defensive rebound, Earvin Morris was fouled with 1:42 remaining and the Miners iced it with free throws down the stretch.
“Our guys did a nice job in the first four minutes [of the second half] of getting stops which led to run outs,” Floyd said. “And we look up and we’ve gone from 17 down to 11 down. We thought ‘OK, maybe we’ve got a shot here.’ So I’m real proud of them.
“We’ve got a lot of things that we still need to get better at. We got thoroughly pummeled on the glass, 73-47. I’ve never been in a game where two guys on the other team had 12 and 10 boards at halftime. We’ve got to simply get better on the glass some way or another. We’ve got to figure that out. I think we can learn a lot from this game though, and that’s the beautiful thing about it. That’s a very good, well-coached Colorado State team and it’s a quality win for us.”
The Rams, who won at Northern Iowa earlier this year right before the Panthers knocked off top-ranked North Carolina, were led by Clavell who scored 35 points with 10 rebounds. Omogbo had 15 points and 20 boards. Tiel Daniels and Joe De Ciman chipped in with 16 and 12 rebounds respectively.
UTEP outscored Colorado State 43-26 in the second half and stopped the Rams’ three-point shooting barrage. They were 9-for-23 from beyond the arc in the first half, 3-for-18 thereafter.
The Miners once again flashed their depth with Artis, Morris and Winn in foul trouble over the course of the game.
“We were able to get great minutes from Trey Touchet off the bench and Paul Thomas off the bench in critical times,” Floyd said. “Those two freshmen were outstanding, and Christian Romine for a couple of minutes. And then I thought we played with poise defensively with those fouls. Containment was a little better.”
The Miners passed the first leg of a demanding six-game stretch that features upcoming games against I-10 rival NM State (twice), Washington State on the road and UT Arlington at home. The Mavericks have already won at Ohio State and Memphis.
Floyd was asked what he learned about his team in come-from-behind victories over Southern Illinois and Colorado State.
“I just think they learned how to play down 17 and you can learn also from the other team that if you’re up 17, sometimes it’s not enough,” he said. “You’ve got to go back and you’ve got to continue to play.”
The Miners will put their unbeaten mark on the line when they play at NM State on Wednesday at 7 p.m., their first road game of the season.
UTEP shook off a sluggish start and scored 52 second-half points in a runaway win over Alcorn State, 88-66,on Sunday night at the Don Haskins Center.
The Miners (3-0) opened the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic with a victory. UTEP will host Florida A&M on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.as part of the tournament before playing a pair of games in Corpus Christi next weekend.
Dominic Artis registered 19 points, nine assists and four steals for the Miners, who shot 49.2 percent from the field while enjoying their top performance of the season at the free throw line. UTEP made its first 15 foul shots and finished 20-for-25 (80 percent) at the stripe.
Artis was the catalyst as the Miners pushed a 10-point halftime lead to 23 in the first eight minutes of the second half.
“I thought he was outstanding,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “I thought he played his best 10 minutes of basketball for us to start the second half. Every basket was off of one of his assists. Great penetration, great attack, got us into offense, moved it, guys had so much space as a result of his ability to penetrate and kick and find guys. He was great in the open floor.”
A 21-6 run expanded a 32-26 UTEP lead late in the first half to 53-32. The Miners kept the margin around 20 the rest of the night.
Earvin Morris scored 18 points, Lee Moore 15 and Hooper Vint 12 for UTEP. The ball moved, as the Miners collected 23 assists with only 10 turnovers.
Marquis Vance led Alcorn State (0-2) with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Braves yielded 22 points off turnovers to the Miners.
The depleted Miner frontcourt was dealt another blow when promising freshman Brodricks Jones went down in the second half with an apparent knee injury.
“Things are changing before our eyes,” Floyd said. “Tevin [Caldwell’s] concussion, I don’t know when he’ll be back. Matt Willms probably is done for the year. The early prognosis on Brodricks Jones is not good. Worst case scenario ACL, best case scenario meniscus. We’ll certainly hope for the best with the MRI, but that’s the early feel.
“We’ve got a lot of issues. That being said, we’re going to go compete it and we’re going to fight it. We’ve got a lot of new guys out there on the floor. Christian Romine will no longer be redshirted. He’ll be back at practice like he has been but we’ll be hearing his voice more, because we’re going to be counting on him. We’ll be pounding him a little bit, trying to get him to where he can front a post and defend and rebound and just try to grow. He really needed a redshirt year, but we’ll have to maybe wait on that a year.”
The Miners were outrebounded 39-38 but did score 19 second-chance points off nine offensive rebounds. Paul Thomas, Terry Winn and Vint snagged six boards apiece.
“I thought Paul Thomas was better tonight rebounding it,” Floyd said. “Hooper Vint was much better rebounding it. But we’ve still got to go another notch. We’ve got to get a guy that is not pleased with getting five or six boards, find that guy that can go out and get us 10 or 11.”
And so the Miners will go back to work Monday, and continue to make adjustments as their roster evolves.
“We’ll have a long session tomorrow in the office to try to review how we’re going to go play … having Hooper Vint as your only big guy out there, things change,” Floyd said. “Maybe it alters the way we have to go approach playing, playing more zone, playing more conservative defensively. But we’ll figure it out and see if we can still hang around some ballgames and go compete it up.
“I like our team, I like our players. [Jake] Flaggert is going to give us the ability to play four guards at times. We may have to start that way so we’ve got Terry and Paul and Hooper to all play inside with Terry being a very small and undersized [center] at times. But we’ll figure it out.
“It’s where we are. I think if you asked those kids in the locker room if they thought we’d still go win games, they’d tell you yes, and we believe that as well. We’re just going to be smaller than any Miner team you’ve seen here for a while because we have lost two of our three centers right off the bat. Hooper is a guy that right now doesn’t have the stamina to go out and play 36, 38 minutes a game. So we’ve got to figure it out behind him.”