Monday , December 11 2017
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UTEP’s Hernandez Named to AP All-America Team

Senior Will Hernandez was named to the AP All-America second team for the second consecutive year on Monday.

The left guard is the first UTEP student-athlete to receive back-to-back AP All-America honors. The Las Vegas, Nev., native is one of six Miners to earn AP All-America honors (Ed Bunn ‘92, first team, Baron Wortham ‘93, second team, Brian Natkin ‘00, first team, Johnnie Lee Higgins ‘06, second team, Aaron Jones ‘16, third team).

Hernandez is also one of two Conference USA student-athletes to be named to the AP All-America teams (Devin Singletary, FAU).

The captain previously was named to the 2017 Pro Football Focus All-American first team and All-C-USA first team. The All-American started in all 49 games played during his career at the left guard position. Hernandez also just accepted his invitation to the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl.

Hernandez protected the blindside allowing zero sacks against WKU and UTSA and only allowed one sack at no. 7 Oklahoma and at C-USA West Division Champions North Texas.

Miners’ Zec Sinks Career-High 22 Points, UTEP Upended At NM State 76-68

Katarina Zec poured in a career-high 22 points while matching the program record for 3-pointers with seven, but homestanding NM State downed UTEP 76-68, inside the Pan-American Center Sunday afternoon.

The Miners (5-3) led by one (34-33) at the half before the Aggies (3-5) used a huge third quarter (25-13) to surge into the lead. The margin swelled to as many as 15 (67-52) before UTEP eventually struck back with a 7-0 run to cut it to seven (69-62) but it was too little too late.

Both squads shot well from the floor (UTEP 44.8 percent, NM State 45.3 percent) while also nailing 12 three pointers each, but NM State converted 21 UTEP turnovers into 23 points to create some separation. Conversely NM State’s 11 giveaways led to seven UTEP points. The Miners tried to make up for it by winning the boards (40-31) for the eighth time in as many games, which resulted in a 12-4 cushion in second chance points, but it wasn’t enough.

Tamara Seda joined Zec in double figures with 12 points while junior Jordan Alexander flirted with a double-double (eight points, 11 rebounds). Najala Howell and Roeshonda Patterson each finished with nine in the game.

NM State was led by Brooke Salas, who exploded for 29 points and six rebounds. Gia Pack (15 points) and Zaire Williams (14 points) also reached double figures in scoring for the Aggies.

“We looked young and played young today,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We came out of the locker room not really ready to play. Every time we showed the resilience that our kids have to get back in the game in we did something crazy to put ourselves away from the game. We never did quit. We have to play better and take care of the ball more. We are going to keep battling and hopefully figure out a way to get better.”

NM State jumped out to an 11-5 lead midway through the opening frame before back-to-back triples by Zec and Patterson pulled the Miners even (11-11) with 3:41 to play in the period. After the two sides traded scores, NM State put together a 5-0 run to take a 19-14 advantage through 10 minutes of action.

The deficit swelled to as many as eight in the second quarter before UTEP started to get things going. Faith Cook started the push with a triple. The Miners then got a stop and Cook found Howell all alone in the corner for a 3-pointer to make it 31-31 with 2:11 to play in the half. After NM State briefly regained the lead, Jordan Alexander sunk a pull-up jumper to afford UTEP a one-point cushion (34-33) at the half.

The Aggies came out firing to start the third quarter, making their first six shots of the frame to fuel a 14-3 run over the first three-and-a half minutes of the frame. The surge put UTEP down 10 (47-37) and forced Baker to call a timeout for his troops to regroup. Out of the break Puc used a strong post move to halt the 8-0 NM State run. UTEP then got a stop and a jumper by Alexander to make it a six-point contest (47-41). The Miners managed to get within four (50-46) but NM State closed the quarter on an 8-1 run to take an 11-point advantage (58-47) to the fourth quarter.

NM State slowly but surely extended its cushion in the fourth quarter, at one point leading by as many as 15 (67-52). The deficit was 14 (69-55) with 5:47 to play in regulation before UTEP peeled off seven straight points to narrow the gap to seven (69-62) with 2:40 left. NM State’s Salas connected on a triple to reinstate a double-digit lead for the home side and UTEP was unable to get close than seven the rest of the way.

UTEP will be idle for a week due to finals before returning to action against former Conference USA foe East Carolina at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C. at 11:30 a.m. MST/1:30 p.m. EST on Dec. 17.

The game will be broadcast locally in El Paso on 600 ESPN El Paso.

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Miners Down Washington State 76-69

For the first 20 minutes on Saturday night, Washington State pounded UTEP on the glass, made seven three-pointers and built a three-point halftime lead. 

In the second half the Miners turned the tables on the Cougars, owning the boards 21-12 and holding them to 5-for-16 shooting from beyond the arc.  It all added up to a 37-27 UTEP advantage in the second stanza and a 76-69 victory before 6,341 enthusiastic fans in the Don Haskins Center.
 
It was a quality win for the Miners (3-6), who appear to be rounding into form following a sluggish start to the season.
 
“You think about [Washington State’s] season so far up to this point, beating Saint Mary’s and San Diego State, they are really difficult to guard because they have so many three-point shooters on the floor at all times,” UTEP Interim Coach Phil Johnson said.  “A lot of times five, and most of the night four.  They just lit us up in the first half and we couldn’t rebound it, we couldn’t stop them.  And everything changed in the second half.  We guarded better.” 
 
UTEP opened the second half with a 10-3 run to go ahead 49-45.  The game was tied up for the last time at 55-all when the Cougars’ Milan Acquaah scored a jumper with 11:30 to play.  The Miners took the lead for good, 57-55, on a rebound and tip-in by Matt Willms with 10:53 remaining.
 
Washington State (6-3) hung around and only trailed by one (66-65) after Kwinton Hinson sank a three-pointer with 3:43 left.  The Miners buckled down and held the Cougars to only four points the rest of the way, as they salted it away at the line.  UTEP finished 14-for-14 from the charity stripe in the second half and 21-for-22 for the game.  The .955 percentage is second-best in school history for a game with a minimum 20 free throws made.  The Miners shot 96.3 percent (26-for-27) from the stripe versus Fresno State on Feb. 10, 2005.     
 
Keith Frazier led the Miners with 21 points and eight rebounds.  He shot 5-for-11 from beyond the arc.
 
“We’ve got to make Keith a complete player,” Johnson said.  “We obviously know he can shoot it and score.  He’s learning.  He’s getting better defensively and just passing and understanding the score and time and all those things.  We gave him player of the game, not just because of his scoring, but you look at the stats and he’s our leading rebounder.  For him to do that as a 6-4 two-guard was huge.”
 
Omega Harris scored 18 points.  He and Evan Gilyard (10 points) both went 8-for-8 from the line.  Paul Thomas added 11 points and five rebounds.  Willms, making his return from a broken hand after missing three weeks and four games, tallied eight points and seven rebounds and was a big factor on the glass in the second half.
 
Evan Gilyard, I don’t even know if he had a basket,” Johnson said.  “He made some free throws.  He had one basket and he was 0-for-4 from three.  But the job that he did on [Malachi] Flynn was tremendous.  I thought Jake Flaggert‘s job … Jake doesn’t score.  I told our guys, you don’t have to score to impact winning.  And there’s proof with Evan Gilyard and Jake.  But obviously we got some good offense from Keith and Omega again.  I’m glad to see Omega play well.  And having Matt back was tremendous down the stretch going and rebounding it.”
 
Flynn, averaging 16.8 points entering the game, finished with three.  He was 1-for-8 from the field and 1-for-6 from outside.  Viont’e Daniels led Washington State with 18 points and six three-pointers.
 
It was an entertaining, well-paced game on “Star Wars Night” with a crowd that was at its best.
 
“I want to thank everybody that came out given the circumstances, which are unique and I get that,” Johnson said.  “But to come out and support these kids and the team, I’ve always made it clear it’s not about me whatsoever.  Not at all.  It’s about these players and team and just trying to have a year and get better.  And they’re enjoying themselves right now.  But the crowd helped us.  I mean, when they went crazy for a defensive play by Flaggert to take a charge and get on the floor for a loose ball, it’s the most knowledgeable crowd in the country.  And I thought it gave us a big, big lift in the last five minutes.”
 
The Miners will take a 10-day break between games during finals week before hosting Incarnate Word on Tuesday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m.

Miners Set to Battle Washington State Saturday on “Star Wars” Night

Coming off a week-long break between games, the UTEP men’s basketball team will shoot for a second consecutive victory on Saturday when much-improved Washington State invades the Haskins Center.

Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. on “Star Wars Night,” with special in-game elements and character appearances from a galaxy far, far away. Plus fans will have a chance to win tickets to the next installment in the saga, “The Last Jedi,” which opens on Dec. 15.

The Miners (2-6) got a jolt of confidence from an 88-76 victory over long-time rival New Mexico in the Don last Saturday.

“It was a drastic change from the New Mexico State game [on Nov. 30], where we looked awful,” Interim Head Coach Phil Johnson said. “But you know, we tried to throw in some things in 48 hours that really didn’t fit our team to go play that game. We made some adjustments and the guys played great. They played with a lot of confidence. Obviously Omega [Harris] had his best game of the season and probably his career. But the real key for me was Kobe Magee’s points and his decision-making against all that pressure. But I think they feel pretty good about themselves right now.”

Harris scored a career-high 28 points against the Lobos, making 9-of-11 shots, all four of his three-point attempts and all six of his free throw tries. Magee had his breakout game as a Miner with 16 points.

“Kobe came off the bench and played really flawless, had a great floor game and made the right decisions,” Johnson said. “That was a game where you had to make the right decision once you beat the press. I thought he did. He’ll probably get the start [on Saturday].”

The Miners are still short-handed in the frontcourt with Matt Willms out, but he is nearing a return from a broken hand.

“My guess is probably not on Saturday, but he’ll be ready for the following game,” Johnson said.

A year removed from finishing 13-18 overall, and 6-12 in the Pac-12 Conference (tied for ninth place), Washington State has opened the season by winning six of its first eight games. The Cougars have dropped consecutive contests, however, to UC Davis at home on Dec. 2 (81-67) and Idaho on the road on Dec. 6 (91-64). The Cougars’ top two scorers – junior forward Robert Franks (19.9 ppg) and sophomore guard Malachi Flynn (16.8 ppg) – have both made tremendous strides from a year ago. Franks averaged 6.3 points in 2016-17, and Flynn collected 9.7 ppg. Sophomore guard Carter Skaggs (Chipola College) has been an impact transfer, averaging 8.0 points while shooting 50 percent (17-for-34) from three-point range and 100 percent (9-for-9) from the line. As a team, Washington State shoots 39.3 percent from beyond the arc and 71.9 percent from the charity stripe.

“We have been watching [them] quite a bit,” Johnson said. “The thing that’s really interesting about them, you know they were 6-0 and they had beaten San Diego State, and they had beaten Saint Mary’s who is rated in the top-20. Those are really impressive wins. They are scoring a lot of points. But what’s amazing, they had been down three times 20+ points and came back and won. So they’re never out of a game, and you’re never out of a game if you’re down to them because they shoot so quickly and long bombs. So we’ve got to get out to the three-point line and guard them. That will be the message.”

Tickets start at just $8 and are available by calling (915) 747-5234.

WATCH: UTEP Introduces New Football Head Coach Dana Dimel

( Video courtesy UTEP Athletics) UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter officially announced Dana Dimel as the 26th head coach in UTEP football history.

Quotes from New Head Football Coach Dana Dimel

“Thanks guys, I’m obviously very pleased to be here and want to thank Dr. [Diana] Natalicio and Jim [Senter] and Chris [Park] and Richard [Adauto III], as they all put the search together. I got spend time with Dr. Natalicio and I can tell she’s got a lot of passion and compassion for the people of El Paso and also for her job, so that was a very nice conversation that we had. I’m really proud of Jim, him and I are coming into this thing together and we’re ready to work hard, but that goes without saying – we don’t even need to say that, that’s just what happens. I’ve heard so many good things about [Jim Senter] as a leader and I’m so excited to work with him and move this program in the right direction. In visiting with Chris and Richard, those are two other guys who have a really firm grasp on what’s going on at the University of Texas at El Paso and they’re going to be a big, big help to me. I appreciate everybody from that sense. And then I want introduce my wife Julie here. Julie, I think she likes football more than me, possibly. If I know anybody who has a great passion for the game of football, it’s Julie. She wakes up every Saturday morning and watches ESPN Game Day and every Sunday, she’s glued to the set watching Roby G [Rob Gronkowski] of the Patriots. She’s a pretty loyal Patriots fan. You guys will love spending time around her and enjoy her and enjoy how she’s got a great passion for the game of football and all it brings to us.

 

“Let me talk little bit now just the things about this job that I want to accomplish. I think that there’s so much that can be done here and I see the great potential in everything that we want to do is going to be in a positive method and positive manner. I think that’s so important when you’re dealing with young people like we are with college athletes, is that you have to be positive and you have to have a great positive attitude, and a consistent positive attitude, so that what I want to bring to the table. We’re going to make this a great place to play college football and we’re going to have a good time doing it with our players. They’re going to represent everybody in the university very, very well. That’s going to be one of my greatest sealing points to parents as we go out and recruit. I want them to know that the players in our program will care about academics, they’re going to go to class, they’re going to care about doing things off the field the right way, they’re going to respect people in the community. And then when other kids come in to play, they’re going to know all those things are important to them and that our players represent that. And the parents will feel really comfortable about that. And that’s an important part of recruiting is that the parents will send their young men to play college football and the one thing they want to know is what kind of people are they going to be around. So, the quality of character that’s in our program is why we’re going to win. We’re going to win because of character. The recruiting process will start with, number one, character, and that’s going to be the most driving factor that we have. Obviously, we’re going to look for great talent and have a background in state of Texas. I recruited the state of Texas for the first time as a graduate assistant, which normally you don’t get to go out and recruit as a graduate assistant, but we had some typical turnover that you would have at Kansas State and I’ll get to that kind of a background of Kansas State and the turnaround there. When I was out recruiting as a graduate assistant in 1987, as a very young coach, the first place I recruited was in San Antonio, Texas, and I have never stopped recruiting Texas since. I’ve been in Texas at every stop that I’ve been with, I’ve been a head coach, which we had a lot of success in Texas. Obviously, with my stay at Houston, we had the top recruiting classes in Conference USA my last two years there and left that program in great standing. When we left there for Art Briles, Kevin Sumlin, Tony Levine and Tom Herman to take over and have great success. We laid a tremendous foundation there through recruiting in the state of Texas, and we did it well at Wyoming and when I left to go on to Arizona and worked for Mike Stoops at Arizona, we also recruited in Texas very well. So, my relationship, one of the strengths that we bring to the table, is my relationship with high school Texas coaches. It’s been one that’s been impeccable through the years. I’ve tried to make sure that I haven’t burned any bridges with the coaches and I think all of them are excited that I’m back in Texas as a head coach and they’re’ very much forward looking to help our program move in the right direction. That’s going to be very important to have high school coaches in Texas behind us. I’ll continue to cultivate the relationship and make sure that those guys understand what we’re doing and how we’re going to do it the right way.

 

“Going back to the history – I don’t want to call this a turnaround, because it’s not a turnaround – we’re going to build a program and we’re going to build it from the ground up and when I get asked about ‘time and concepts’, about ‘how long it’s going to take?’, ‘how you’re going to be?’. Take the 1-0 concept and that’s the concept we’re going to be as good as we can be today and we’re going to get the most of everyday and if we do that, then tomorrow will take care of itself. And that’s the most important as you turn a program around. So, I’ll kind of relate some of turnaround stories in my background that gives me the experience to be able to come in and build the program. The first, I played at Kansas State, and when I was at Kansas State, we probably won five or six games in my three years that I played there. So, not a lot of success. And then I took over as a GA. my first two years as a GA, I think we were 0-21-1 and the only game that we tied was against Kansas and it was called the ‘Toilet Bowl’. Neither of us knew how to win and so we both decided to tie the game, it would just go away. So, the next year, Bill Snyder comes in and I get moved up to a higher position on the staff and we win one game. We went 1-10 in that first year. And then as time went on, obviously, the story tells itself and we turned that program around, and I was able to go out and get the chance to be a head coach at the University of Wyoming at a young age. At that time, I ended up staying in coaching and took the head coaching job at Wyoming, I stayed on and coached the Cotton Bowl, finished it up, and then went to Wyoming. And then I had the great success there at Wyoming and then moved on from there to the University of Houston. My point is this: what I saw at Kansas State, and how what losing brought to the table and how to turn a program around, and the leadership it takes, the positive leadership and the team unity it takes, and the player leadership just stepping up and knowing how to get a program right and to make each other very accountable. That’s a key work, making everybody accountable on the team and to prepare ourselves to win. I saw that and I saw was so important to make that transition. So, as I move forward as head coach, I implemented those into both programs and both of them took to fruition and both of them had success because of that. I’m very proud of that and that I’m very much qualified to do it again here and I’m just excited about the opportunity because I took the role after I was done at Houston and I went and helped Mike [Stoops] as the associate head coach at Arizona, my role was this, was do the very best job at what you’re doing each and every day. Be the best you can be and don’t worry about anything else, do worry about another offensive coordinator position, don’t worry about getting another head coaching position, just be the best offensive coordinator you can be each and every day and be a good mentor to your players. And I even never tried to get another head coaching job. This is the first head coaching job that I’ve made an effort to get. It was a time in my life where I knew was a really good fit for me and a place that needed us. I feel so positive on what we’re going to accomplish here, things that we’re going to get done, but with a 1-0 concept with really good quality people in the program. And we’re going to take all the evaluation skills that Jim mentioned, all the skills that we have to evaluate talent and to understand how to develop talent. Because there are two things that we have to do really well here, to evaluate and we’re going to have to develop. That’s going to be the strength of our program. We’re going to bring in guys who have great potential, and then we’re going to be known as one of the best developing programs in the country. And the brand that we’re going to have is the same brand that I’ve had everywhere that I’ve been – that our guys are going to play hard and they’re going to be accountable, and that’s the brand we’ve carried with us everywhere that we’ve been. They’re going to line up and play against a UTEP football team, where you’re going to play against a bunch of disciplined and accountable players. And then Jim talked about our philosophies, we’re going to score a lot of points. I’m one of the winningest, if not the winningest offensive coordinators in country since 2011.

 

“My experience as a head coach has helped me to learn that not trying to build a resume by getting 650 yards, but then your defense is there for 100 plays, you’re trying to be as efficient as you can and score a lot of points and have an exciting brand of football. But the bottom line is, and Jim hit it right in the head, the philosophy for us is to score one more point than the defense gives up and that the defense hold them to one less point than the offense scores. So, that’s going to be our philosophy and along the way we’ve averaged 33.5 points over the last seven years and have probably the most efficient offense in college football. If you look at it, we have been that offense where the things that really matter are points per possession, things like that are underlined things that show how efficient you are – red zone offense and third-down offense, all those things that are efficiency measures, K-State is very well regarded. As far as being a spread team, we use every formation imaginable. But two years in a row we were selected the number one spread team in the nation, because we made the defense make the most solo tackles of any offense in the country two years in a row. We’ve had Heisman Trophy finalists in our offense, our offense has set school passing records and school rushing records. Whatever our talent tells us we have, we have an offense that has the ability to play to that talent. So, we’re going to make our offense fit the personnel that we have and we are going to recruit quality characters, but really, we’re going to recruit guys who are smart and they run well. And they’re going to run well and that’s important. You got to have guys who move. And it doesn’t necessarily mean at every position, speed, but you want speed at your skill. We’re going to have guys on the offensive line, guys on the defensive line and guys at the linebacker position run well, and that’s very important for us. Defensively, we’re going to have to be as sound and disciplined as possible but will be aggressive. We’ll try and create as many turnovers as possible, because obviously, the turnovers are going to change a game. So, there’s going to be a big goal for us is to win the turnover margin in each and every game. Offensively, I think we’re number three in the country in turnovers in the last eight years – the least number of turnovers. Defensively, we want to be able to match that by causing a lot of turnovers and that’s going to help us win football games. So, that’s some of the philosophical things that I wanted to visit about with the program.

 

“I can’t’ wait; we’ve already started. I watched, when I did my interview, I watched a lot of the players on film. I already got a good feel for what kind of talent is here. I made sure I did my homework and have a good feel of what these players bring to the table and I’m not going to dwell on the past at all, that’s not anything with what my job is. I learned that in a turnaround, is that coach don’t come in and say that the players that we have now are ‘this and that’. I’m going to evaluate; the staff is going to evaluate what we have as a football team. I’m sure there’s plenty to work with on this football team and I know from the team meeting, there’s plenty of guys who are excited to play and that’s what I’m going to build on. These are my guys and I’m going to grow with them.”

***

Dana Dimel, 55, was previously the head coach at the University of Wyoming and the University of Houston.  He most recently served as the offensive coordinator, running backs coach and tight ends coach at his alma mater, Kansas State University, where he has worked since 2009.  He also spent three seasons on the staff at the University of Arizona.

Dimel is completing his third tour of duty with the Wildcats, including a year (2005) continuing work on his graduate degree.  Working under legendary coach Bill Snyder, he has been a part of 12 bowl teams during 19 seasons in Manhattan.  The Wildcats have posted an 11-win season (2012), two 10-win campaigns (1995, 2011) and five nine-win seasons (1993, 1994, 1996, 2014, 2016) during that span, and have finished in the top-18 of the national poll on three occasions (2011, 2012, 2014).  They won the Big 12 championship in 2012.

Dimel has the most wins of any active offensive coordinator in college football since 2011 (60), and has been a part of eight straight bowl appearances including in 2017. The 2016 Wildcats defeated Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor and TCU.

With Dimel calling the plays over the last seven seasons, the Wildcats have averaged 33.4 points per game and 6.2 yards per play.  They have ranked third nationally in fewest turnovers per game behind LSU and Alabama over the last seven years.

During Dimel’s tenure as offensive coordinator, Kansas State has routinely ranked among the nation’s best teams in red zone and third down efficiency.

In 2014, Kansas State led the nation in scoring efficiency (scoring drives/total drives) while shattering the school record for passing yards (3,736) and completion percentage (65.3).

Dimel’s play calling helped wide receiver Tyler Lockett leave K-State with the school’s career receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdown records, while quarterback Jake Waters broke the school marks for single-season passing yards (3,501) and total offensive yards (3,985).

In 2012 Dimel coached Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein, who passed for 2,641 yards and 16 touchdowns while rushing for 920 yards and 23 scores.

In 2011, Dimel led a rushing offense that saw Klein set a new Big 12 record and NCAA record by a quarterback with 27 rushing touchdowns while rushing for 1,000+ yards.

Dimel started his career at K-State as a graduate assistant from 1987-88 prior to being elevated to offensive line coach in 1989.  He took over as offensive coordinator in 1995.  Overall Dimel spent 10 seasons in Manhattan (1987-96) prior to accepting the head coaching position at Wyoming.  At the time of his hire, he was the youngest Division I-A head coach in the nation at the age of 34.

Wyoming’s three seasons at Wyoming (1997-99) produced a record of 22-13, with one eight-win season (1998, 8-3) and two seven-win campaigns (1997, 7-6 and 1999, 7-4).  In 1998, Wyoming was 6-2 in the WAC’s Mountain Division (second place).  Dimel coached three Academic All-Americans at Wyoming.

Dimel spent 2000-02 as the head coach at Houston.  Spearheading a major rebuilding effort, he led the Cougars to five wins in 2002 following a 0-11 campaign in 2001.  In Dimel’s final game with the Cougars, Houston upset conference champion Louisville.  Dimel brought in the top-ranked recruiting class in Conference USA in both 2001 and 2002.

He continued work on his graduate degree at Kansas State in 2005 prior to taking over as Arizona’s tight ends coach and, eventually, run game coordinator from 2006-08.  In 2008, he added running backs to his list of responsibilities as he was promoted to Associate Head Coach with the Wildcats.  The 2008 Arizona squad finished 8-5 while posting a bowl victory (Las Vegas Bowl) for the first time in 10 years.  Among Dimel’s protégés at Arizona was Rob Gronkowski, who has emerged as one of the top tight ends in NFL history with the New England Patriots.

During his initial tenure at K-State, Dimel coordinated an offense that established school records for touchdowns, points and yards in 1995. He mentored 11 offensive linemen who went on to sign NFL contracts over those 10 years, as well as three All-Americans.

During his career as a head or assistant coach, Dimel has coached 37 players who have gone on to play in the NFL.

Dimel was a two-year letterman as an offensive lineman at Kansas State.  He was a member of the Wildcats’ All-Decade Team for the 1980’s.  He signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings and attended training camp in 1987.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing from Kansas State in 1986.

Dimel and his wife, Julie, have a son, Winston and a daughter, Josey.  His son is a junior fullback on the Kansas State football team who has scored 25 touchdowns over the last three seasons.  He is a three-time All-Big 12 player, garnering first team honors in 2015 and 2016.

UTEP Men’s Golf Adds Marcus Khaw For 2018-19 Season

UTEP men’s golf head coach Scott Lieberwirth announced the addition of Marcus Khaw for the 2018-19 season.

The Burlington, Ontario, Canada native won a regional championship title with a score of 9-under for 27 holes, which included a round of 7-under at Hidden Lake Golf Course in Ontario. He also finished in fifth place at Provincials.

Khaw said his favorite shot is a small cut from 145 yards with a pitching wedge.

“I chose UTEP because Scott [Lieberwirth] and the boys are great people to be around and that is very important to me,” Khaw said. “The campus looks cool with the clay roofs and athletic facilities are sweet.”

UTEP Rally Falls Short at Arkansas State 76-73

JONESBORO, Ar.- Tamara Seda (19 points, 16 rebounds), Najala Howell (17 points) and Roeshonda Patterson (career-high 17 points) all reached double figures in scoring but UTEP was edged at Arkansas State, 76-73, Tuesday evening.

The Red Wolves (4-4) set opponent season highs for points (76) and field-goal percentage (49.2) to help them rally past the Miners (5-2). UTEP led 44-36 at the half but A-State used a huge third quarter (24-11) to surge into the lead and the Miners could never recover. They went down fighting, though, whittling a nine-point deficit (72-63) down to three on a pair of occasions but couldn’t quite complete the comeback.

The Orange and Blue connected on 42.9 percent (27-63) from the floor while also winning the boards (43-27) but couldn’t get enough stops to pull off the win. UTEP’s 73 points establish a season high.

Seda has now recorded five straight double-doubles, the longest such streak by a Miner in non-conference play since at least 1982-83 (prior records incomplete).

“It was a strange game because it felt like we had it under control but they shot the ball incredibly well,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “We had too many turnovers in the first half. In the second half we only had five. They kind of crept back in the game. Once they got the lead we never could get it back.”

UTEP jumped out to a 10-5 lead halfway through the first quarter before the visitors responded to get within one (12-11) with 3:18 to play in the period. Jordan Alexander halted the surge with a steal and score, followed by an old-fashioned three-point play from Howell to make it 17-11 with 1:40 to play in the stanza. The margin remained six (21-15) heading to second quarter, with UTEP’s 21 points marking its highest scoring output in the opening frame this season.

The Miners’ margin hit double figures (27-17) for the first time of the night on a lay-up by Seda with 8:14 left in the half. It was an eight-point game (37-29) with three minutes left in the quarter before Arkansas State tallied seven straight points to cut UTEP’s advantage down to one (37-36, 1:05 2Q).

UTEP took the blow in stride, responding with a half-closing 7-0 run to surge into the locker room up by eight (44-36). Patterson was instrumental in the sequence, scoring the first five points of the run before setting up Howell’s lay-up with five seconds left in the half.

Arkansas State opened up the third quarter on an 8-2 run to cut the Miners’ lead down to two (46-44). UTEP used back-to-back baskets to get some breathing room, and it was up by six (52-46) with 4:49 to play in the quarter.

A-State picked up its play at both ends of the court, allowing it to close the period on a 14-3 push to secure a five-point lead (60-55) heading to the fourth quarter.

The home side extended its lead to nine on two occasions in the fourth quarter, including being up 72-63 with 3:55 to play. The Miners regrouped and scored four straight points-all on free throws by Howell- to inch within five (72-67).

After A-State extended the margin back to seven a Seda free throw and Howell jumper made it a four-point game (74-70) with 51 seconds left.

A-State split a pair of free throws before UTEP used a transition basket from Seda to make it a three-point contest (75-72) with 15 seconds left. The Miners nearly came up with a steal on the inbounds play before fouling.

The Red Wolves missed the first but hit the second to essentially put the game away.

The Miners will be back in action when they play at I-10 rival NM State at 2 p.m. MST Sunday. The game will be broadcast locally in El Paso on 600 ESPN El Paso while also being shown live on Fox Sports Southwest and Fox Sports Arizona PLUS.

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UTEP’s Hernandez Named to C-USA First Team

Senior Will Hernandez was named to the All-Conference USA first team, the league announced on Tuesday.

Hernandez is the first Miner to receive consecutive all-conference first team honors since Quintin Demps (2006 & 2007). The Las Vegas, Nevada, native is also the first UTEP offensive lineman to receive back-to-back first team recognition.

The All-American started in all 49 games played during his career at the left guard position. Hernandez was named to the 2017 AP Midseason All-America team and 2017 Outland Trophy Watch List. He also earned an invitation to the 2018 Reese’s Senior Bowl. The captain was appointed UTEP Offensive Player of the Year voted by the team.

Under his guidance the Miners allowed zero sacks against WKU and UTSA and only allowed one sack at no. 7 Oklahoma and at C-USA West Division Champions North Texas.

Julian Jackson, Alvin Jones, Kalon Beverly, Devin Cockrell, Nik Needham, Alan Luna and Jake Sammut received All-C-USA honorable mentions.

Miners Down UNM 88-76 Saturday Night at the Don

Omega Harris scored a career-high 28 points and missed two shots all night, as UTEP ended a six-game losing streak with an 88-76 victory over long-time rival New Mexico on Saturday in the Haskins Center.

The Miners (2-6), coming off a 1-6 November, got the month off to a great start.  UTEP will be home for all seven games in December, including the first two Conference USA contests versus North Texas (Dec. 28) and Rice (Dec. 30).

“We just got a great effort really from everybody,” Interim Head Coach Phil Johnson said.  “We had a really intense practice yesterday and today.  We had to clean up a lot of things from the New Mexico State game [Thursday], and shot selection and not guarding and not getting back and all those things.  I give our guys a ton of credit for adjusting and putting into the game the things that we worked on yesterday and today in film.  All of the things that we did, it got into the game.  And a lot of times it doesn’t.”

The Miners only trailed once at 2-0.  A 13-2 run extended a 16-15 lead to 29-17.  Kobe Magee, who had the best game of his young UTEP career with 16 points off the bench, scored seven points during the run.

UTEP matched its largest lead of the half when it went to the locker room up 45-31.  The Miners had some problems with the Lobos’ defensive pressure to start the second half and the lead was trimmed to 45-38.  New Mexico (3-5) pulled within five at 61-56 on two free throws by Chris McNeal with 10:15 remaining, capping an 11-2 run.  But the Miners scored the next five points to push the lead back to 10 and were in command the rest of the way.

“Give them credit.  Their intensity picked up in the second half big-time,” Johnson said.  “That’s why we had a little more trouble with the press, just because their athleticism and effort picked up.  But at the end of the day Kobe Magee, man what a floor game he had.  And I told Omega in the locker room, ‘Welcome back.  Welcome back Omega.’  That’s the guy that we recruited four years ago.”

Harris made 9-of-11 shots, all four of his three-point attempts and all six of his free throws.  He moved into 25th place on UTEP’s all-time scoring list and, for the first time this season, looked like himself after dealing with a troublesome back in the early going.

“I didn’t have anything to do with it honestly.  I had zero to do with it,” Johnson said.  “He just played.  You know, I kind of got on him the other day.  I said ‘You know, this isn’t you man.  This isn’t Omega Harris that we’re watching play.’  He has been in a funk and then he broke out tonight.  And his shots were in balance.  He kicks his foot out, he gets a lot of shots off balance.  Tonight everything was in balance except for his turnover in front of our bench with about 1:50 [left] and up by 12.  That’s not a good play.  But other than that, I thought he did a really nice job.  And one turnover in 34 minutes out of Omega is big-time.”

Magee gave the Miners a big-time spark, particularly in the first half when he scored 11 points.

“Listen, he’s a good player,” Johnson said.  “His floor game was really good.  It got a little shakier in the second half with three turnovers, but the first half was really flawless.  It was a real fine line to stay aggressive against the press.  You’ve got to go attack the score.  And then when you don’t have the right look to bring it out and have the poise to know what is the difference, what’s a good shot and not a good shot.  And in the New Mexico State game, we didn’t.  We just cranked it from anywhere, anytime, one pass.  That was really the downfall for us the other night, was turnovers and bad shots and tonight that got better in both areas.”

The Miners shot 53.7 percent from the field, made nine threes and connected on 21-of-27 free throws.  And they didn’t let New Mexico go berserk from three-point range.  The Lobos finished 11-for-31 from beyond the arc.

“Right from the very start, we wanted to make sure we got to them on the three-point line,” Johnson said.  “You have to help to the drive.  Obviously [Sam] Logwood is a load.  He is one stout guy.  And he can really drive and he’s physical.  So we brought really only one helper to him and tried to stay to their shooters.  That wasn’t perfect either.  But the key was getting out to them and running them off the three-point line ,and we did a pretty solid job of that.”

Keith Frazier (16 points), Isiah Osborne (10) and Paul Thomas (10) joined Harris and Magee in double figures.  The small Miners were competitive on the boards, getting outrebounded 37-33.

“You know, it’s really amazing that we started four guards and really played four guards the entire game, four perimeter players, and then Paul Thomas or Tirus Smith at the five,” Johnson said.  “And we even put Jake [Flaggert] at the five for about eight minutes.  So we had five guards in the game.  It was just effort, really, and gang rebounding, rebound down from the top, don’t stand and watch, go get it no matter what and team rebound.  Just looking at Keith Frazier with seven [rebounds] and Isiah Osborne with eight, is big-time.  Those are two perimeter guys going out and getting 15 rebounds.  That’s awesome.”

Logwood led New Mexico with 22 points.  McNeal, averaging a team-leading 16.6 points per game coming in, was limited to nine points and only one field goal.

The Miners will return to action on Saturday, Dec. 9 against Washington State in the Haskins Center.  Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. MT and tickets are available by calling (915) 747-5234.

Photos by Andres Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post

Miners Rally to Beat HBU 69-62

Senior Tamara Seda recorded her fourth straight double-double (18 points, 16 rebounds) while junior Najala Howell poured in a season-high tying 19 points to help lead UTEP to a 69-62 victory against HBU at the Don Haskins Center Saturday afternoon.

The Huskies (2-4) led 31-26 at the half but the Miners (5-1) came alive after the break to post the come-from-behind win to close out the season-opening six-game homestand in style. The game featured eight ties and seven lead changes, with the final one coming down the stretch when UTEP peeled off nine straight points-all on treys- to turn a one-point deficit (57-56) into their largest lead of the contest (65-57). HBU scored the next five points but the Miners put the game out of reach with a Jordan Alexander jumper with 21 seconds to play.

“Our energy wasn’t very good in the first half and Houston Baptist really punished us for that,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “They played well and built a lead. We really challenged them hard in the locker room at half time. Our kids really responded to that. I’m really proud of our team. I wish we would have played a little better quarters one through four but I’ll certainly take their energy and activity that they played with in the fourth.”

UTEP set season highs for 3-pointers made (10), attempted (21) and percentage (47.6), including going 6-8 from distance in the final frame to help complete the comeback. The Miners also won the boards (44-32) while holding HBU to 38.1 percent (24-63) from the floor, including 19.0 percent (4-21) from distance.

Sophomore Roeshonda Patterson provided a spark off the bench with a career-high matching 11 points to join Howell and Seda in double figures. Freshman Jordan Jenkins pitched in a personal-best six points to go along with six assists.

HBU was led by Amanda Johnson’s 26 points.

The visitors jumped out to an early 6-3 lead before UTEP responded with a 9-1 run to secure a 12-7 advantage with 4:01 to play in the first quarter. The Huskies quickly cut the deficit to one (12-11) but UTEP finished the period strong and led 17-11 through 10 minutes of action. The Miners connected on 63.6 percent (7-11) from the floor in the frame, with six assists on their seven field goals.

It was a different story in the second quarter, with the visitors turning up the heat defensively while finding some rhythm on offense. The result was a 20-9 frame in favor of HBU, which included a 13-2 surge late in the half to grab a 31-23 advantage. UTEP ended the run with a high-arching 3-pointer from Patterson that made it a 31-26 game at the half.

The deficit remained five (38-33) with 6:19 to play in the third quarter before UTEP started to slowly but surely claw its way back into the game. They did so at the free-throw line, going 10-12 in the quarter on the way to evening the score (45-45) heading to the fourth quarter.

Katarina Zec drilled a long triple at the start of the final frame to give the Miners their first lead (48-45) since the first half. Faith Cook followed that with a pull-up jumper and suddenly the home side led by five (50-45). HBU struck back with a 5-0 run of its own to forge the seventh tie of the tilt.

After the Huskies snuck back into the lead (57-56), UTEP answered with three straight triples to fuel a 9-0 run and vault ahead by a score of 65-57. Jenkins sunk the first one before consecutive treys by Howell.

HBU wasn’t done, though, using a layup by Johnson and a 3-pointer from Britta Daub to make it a one possession game (65-62). The Orange and Blue kept their composure and ran a good set to give Alexander a wide-open look from the wing. She drilled the jumper, affording the Miners some much-needed breathing room (67-62) with 20 seconds remaining in regulation.

UTEP got a couple stops down the stretch and a sunk two more free throws to close out the contest in style.

The Miners will return to action at Arkansas State at 4 p.m. MST Tuesday. It is the first road contest of the year for the Orange and Blue and fans may stay informed by following @UTEPWBB on Twitter for timely updates

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Miners, Lobos to Continue Longstanding Rivalry Saturday in The Don

A year after UTEP and New Mexico went down to the wire in Albuquerque, the Miners will entertain the Lobos in the Don Haskins Center on Saturday night.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and fans are encouraged to wear white as the Miners complete a string of three rivalry games in eight days.

“We know that they have really adjusted into a unique style and they’re fullcourt pressing all over the floor and we’ll be ready for that,” UTEP interim coach Phil Johnson said.  “We’ve got one day to get ready for a really good basketball team.  We talked to a lot of coaches that have played them or seen them, and they have all been really impressed with New Mexico, particularly with how well they shoot it and their pressure is unique in the fact that it’s all game, start to finish.”

New Mexico (3-4) is making its first visit to El Paso since January of 2008.  The Lobos have a new coach (former NM State head man Paul Weir) and a host of new players.

Only one starter returns in senior guard/forward Sam Logwood (15.7 ppg).  Junior guard Chris McNeal, who leads the Lobos with 16.6 points per game, was a JUCO All-American at Indian Hills last season.  The Lobos average 11.9 three-point field goals and 31.9 three-point attempts per game led by McNeal (22 threes) and junior guard Anthony Mathis (20).

The Miners dipped to 1-6 with an 80-60 loss to NM State on Thursday.  The good news is the month of November is over and UTEP will play every game in December (seven total) in the Haskins Center for the first time since 2012.  The month will conclude with the tip-off of Conference USA play against North Texas (Dec. 28) and Rice (Dec. 30).

Last year the Miners rebounded from a 2-13 start to go 12-6 in C-USA.  Johnson acknowledged that the experience gained a year ago could be beneficial towards turning things around in 2017-18.

“Maybe, particularly for the guys that were here through that last year,” he said.  “They have to feel like there is hope.  And that’s something I did leave them with [in the post-game meeting on Thursday].  There is hope.  We did it a year ago and lost a bunch of games this time of year, and we made some changes and we got a lot better.  Part of that getting better last year was when we got Matt Willms healthy, along with some other things.  He obviously will give us a boost and a lift when he comes back.  But we’re going to have to learn to play without him.  He can’t play 40 minutes a game, and we can’t always count on him to be everything.  Not any one guy is going to be that good of a player for us.  We’ve got to play together and we talked about sharing the ball and sharing everything.  We talked about sharing in the loss, sharing in the victory, sharing the ball, everything that we do as a team.  And we’ll stay together.”

Following Saturday’s game, the Miners will have one game in 16 days – plenty of time to get better on the practice floor.

UTEP and New Mexico will be meeting for the 143rd time on Saturday.  The Lobos lead the series 77-65, but the Miners hold a 40-27 advantage in games played in El Paso.

Tickets start at just $8 and are available by calling (915) 747-5234.

UTEP Softball Announces 2018 Schedule, Featuring 21 Home Contests

Fifth-year UTEP softball head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk announced the 2018 schedule on Friday.

The 54-game spring slate features 21 home contests, the most since 2016, while the Miners will face nine programs that competed in the 2017 NCAA Softball Tournament (Cal, James Madison, LA Tech, Longwood, Missouri, NM State, Ole Miss, Oregon and San Jose State). UTEP will take on the its I-10 rival NM State in a trio of contests, while Southeastern Conference power Ole Miss will make its way to the Sun City.

The 2018 season will open on Feb. 9 against SEC’s Missouri at the Kajikawa Tournament hosted by Arizona State in Tempe. The Miners will also face St. Mary’s College and Pac-12’s Oregon on Feb. 10, and UC Davis and San Jose State on Feb. 11.

The Marucci Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev., is next on the slate, as UTEP will open against Nevada and Boise State on Feb. 16. The Miners will follow with contests against rival New Mexico and host school UNLV on Feb. 17, while the weekend will conclude against South Dakota on Sunday.

The Miners will then start a string of six home contests at the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. The first will be against rival NM State in a single game on Feb. 20 (6 p.m.). The Orange and Blue will then host the UTEP Tournament – the first since 2014. UTEP will take on Echo-Hawk’s pervious school Portland State and Idaho State on Feb. 23 and again the next day.

The weekend will end against Portland State on Feb. 25. The neutral contests will include NM State playing Portland State and Idaho State on Feb. 23 and again on Feb. 24, and NM State versus Idaho State on Feb. 25.

UTEP will then take the road again for a six-game weekend, this time across the Pacific Ocean to the Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament in Honolulu, Hawai’i. The Miners face Cal and Longwood on March 1, James Madison on March 2, host school Hawai’i on March 3, and East Carolina and Hawai’i during the final day on March 4. The Miners last played in Hawai’i in 2015.

The team will then take the other coast, this time to the FAU Parents’ Weekend Tournament in Boca Raton, Fla. The Miners will play three contests – versus Stony Brook and Long Island on March 10 and then Rutgers on March 11. The team will stay in the Sunshine State to open Conference USA action against Florida Atlantic on March 12 in a double header. The Miners and Owls will conclude the league lid lifter on March 13.

The Miners will open their C-USA home slate against UAB on March 17 in a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. Sunday’s contest will start at noon.

All home league contests will be played on Saturday’s (doubleheaders start at 2 p.m.) and Sunday’s (noon start). The Miners will host UTSA (March 30-31), but not before heading to Las Cruces to take on NM State in a two-game set on March 27 (4 & 6 p.m.).

UTEP will play at Southern Miss (March 24-25), at WKU for the first time in school history (April 7-8) and at Middle Tennessee (April 28-29).

UTEP will host North Texas (April 14-15) and three other non-conference contests, with the first against New Mexico on April 16 (3 p.m.) and Ole Miss on April 20 (7 p.m.) and 21 (4 p.m.).

The regular season will end against LA Tech in El Paso on May 5-6. The Conference USA tournament will be played at Charlotte (May 9-12). UTEP’s 54 contests are the most since playing 55 games in 2016.

Gallery+Story: NMSU Downs UTEP 80-60 at the Don Thursday Night

A.J. Harris scored 18 points, and Jemerrio Jones had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds as NM State dominated UTEP, 80-60, on Thursday night at the Don Haskins Center.

The Miners (1-6) got off to a strong start, building an 11-5 lead in the first few minutes, but after that it was all Aggies.  NM State (5-1) crushed the Miners on the boards (45-25), shot 53.6 percent from the field and scored 20 points off UTEP turnovers – including 16 in the first half.

“We tried to play a little different style tonight and it was new for our team,” said UTEP Interim Head Coach Phil Johnson, who took over for the retired Tim Floyd.

“We had 48 hours to get ready.  Not an excuse.  And we tried to get a little more aggressive offensively because we have been offensively challenged.  We haven’t scored the ball very well, and so we wanted to be aggressive and we interpreted that the wrong way.  We interpreted that, which I’m not surprised by it, that we shot it very quickly, a lot of forced shots, a lot of quick shots, and those shots didn’t fall.  And then the turnovers were really bad.  I didn’t think we guarded anybody tonight and I just told the team, and really it was a lot of our veteran guys that disappointed and we told them that.  We have one day to get ready to play another good basketball team and then a week [off], and we’ll use those days to get better.”

UTEP had scored 63 and 52 points in the previous two games since losing Matt Willms to a broken hand.  That called for some changes to the offensive execution.

“Just coming into this game, again with limited time, we had really looked at our offense, particularly late clock, and there just wasn’t enough attack to us,” Johnson said.  “There was a lot of standing around, it became a lot of one-on-one.  And if you look at our stats through the last two games, we had seven assists in the Lamar game and eight assists in the New Mexico State game the other night, and tonight we had four.  So I told the team, one guy ought to have eight assists.  We had Dominic Artis last year many games [where he] would have eight, nine or 10 assists.  Our whole team had four.  So the ball’s not moving enough and we’re not sharing the ball enough.  The change that we made was, let’s get more aggressive with our cutting and screening.  We’re living behind the three-point line and we just kind of gave up on it, the team did.  I don’t know if they didn’t really understand what we were trying to do, we tried to be real simple with what we were trying to run.  And it was just no good.  But that’s really with one day of practice, so I guess I shouldn’t expect any more.  I am disappointed in some guys’ effort and a few guys with how they defended tonight, because they shot the ball 54 percent.  That’s ridiculous.  We’ve got to get better at that and we will.”

After the fast start by the Miners, NM State regrouped with a 24-5 run to take a 29-16 lead.  The Aggies led 37-23 at the half.

UTEP’s Keith Frazier opened the second-half scoring with a three-pointer and the Miners were only down 11 at 37-26.  But NMSU scored the next eight points and that really was the story of the second half.  Every time UTEP crept within 15 points, the Aggies went on another run.  And the lead ultimately ballooned to as many as 24 points.

After the Aggies went ahead 3-0, the Miners scored 11 of the next 13 points.  But that was UTEP’s only run of the night.

“I think we came out real aggressive and they came out with a press which we knew they would, and I thought we did a nice job early against the press,” Johnson said.  “Isiah Osborne had two breakaways right off the bat.  And we got it at the rim.  So that part was good.  And we had really worked on that, and I was pleased with it the first seven minutes or so.  And then it became quick shots and quick shots led to runouts on their end and rebounding coming in transition.  We didn’t get back very well.  There really wasn’t anything that I felt like we did very well.  But we tried to implement a new style within a few days and we’ll stay with that.  We’re not giving up on anything.  I heard some guy say we’ve got to play zone.  No, we’re not going to go junk everything because we played so poorly.  We’re going to get what we do better.”

The Miners were held to 37.5 percent shooting as no player scored in double figures.  Keith Frazier, Tirus Smith, Paul Thomas and Trey Touchet scored nine points each.

“The bright spot, I thought we got some good [play] out of Trey Touchet in 21 minutes,” Johnson said.  “I thought DeShaun Highler, who has not played this year and is a walk-on, I thought he gave us some good energy.  And I was really pleased with Tirus Smith.  I thought he posted, I thought he rebounded, I thought he gave effort.  I thought he was our toughest guy.  But a lot of disappointment, especially with some veterans.”

Harris shot 7-for-8 from the field, 2-for-2 from three and 2-for-2 from the line to lead NM State.

The Miners will host another long-time rival, New Mexico, for the first time since January of 2008 on Saturday.  Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. MT and tickets are available by calling 747-5234.

Photos by Andres Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post

Gallery+Story: Miner Defense Holds UNM in Check, Shots Don’t Fall in 59-35 Loss

UTEP held New Mexico to 59 points-30 below its average- but couldn’t get enough shots to fall in a 59-35 setback at the Don Haskins Center Thursday evening.

The undefeated Lobos (8-0), who are receiving votes for both top-25 polls, were limited to 39.7 percent (23-58) from the floor and 33.0 percent (12-36) from distance but they overcame through a physical defensive effort that gave the Miners (4-1) fits.

UTEP shot 25.0 percent (11-44) in the game while being harassed into 25 turnovers that led to 22 UNM points. The Miners won the battle of the boards, 44-31, but it wasn’t enough to compensate for the off shooting night.

Senior Tamara Seda recorded her third straight double-double (11 points, 13 rebounds) to pace UTEP while sophomore Katarina Zec added nine points. Sophomore Zuzanna Puc came off the bench to contribute five points and a season-high eight rebounds. Sophomore Roeshonda Patterson also pitched in five points and sophomore Faith Cook registered a career-high seven boards.

Tesha Buck tallied 19 points, aided by going 5-12 from distance, to lead the way for the visitors. Cherise Beynon joined her in double figures with 11 points.

“They really guarded us well,” UTEP head coach Kevin Baker said. “They do a really good job. I don’t think anybody the rest of the year is going to hold them to 59 points. We did everything we wanted to do defensively to them. I’m proud of our kids. The better team won tonight.”

The two teams traded scores over the first eight-plus minutes of the contest, and UTEP was down by just two (13-11) after Seda scored in the post. The Lobos found another gear, though, wrapping a 16-2 run around the quarter break to vault out to a 29-13 advantage with 8:46 left in the first half. UNM hit a trio of triples during the sequence.

The Miners made some defensive adjustments, which allowed them to hold UNM to just five points over the remainder of the stanza. The effort let the Orange and Blue to trim the deficit to 10 (32-22) with 2:08 left in the quarter before a late UNM basket made it 34-22 at the half.

UTEP’s aspirations of a comeback took a hit at the onset of the third quarter, with the Lobos scoring the first seven points of the period to secure a 19-point advantage (41-22, 6:20 3Q). Neither team could get much going offensively the rest of the period, and UNM carried a 20-point lead (46-26) to the fourth quarter.

The Orange and Blue continued to battle down the stretch, but there was simply too much ground to make up.

The Miners will put this contest in the rear view mirror and now prepare to play host to HBU at 1 p.m. MST Saturday. The contest if the final one in the season-opening six-game homestand, and tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids.

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Photos by Andres Acosta, Chief Photographer El Paso Herald-Post

HP Sports In-Depth: Miner Men Prep for NMSU, Undefeated Women Set for UNM

Only five days after doing battle in Las Cruces, the UTEP Miners and NM State Aggies will lace ‘em up again on Thursday night in El Paso.  Tip-off is at 8 p.m. in a rivalry doubleheader at the Haskins Center that also features the unbeaten (4-0) UTEP women facing unblemished (7-0) New Mexico at 5:30.

Tickets start at just $8 for admission into both games.  The UTEP Ticket Center number is 747-5234.

A busy last couple of days for the Miner basketball program saw UTEP lose to Lamar, coach Tim Floyd announce his retirement and Phil Johnson being installed as interim head coach.

“I told the team that I can’t be coach Floyd.  I have to be coach Johnson,” Johnson said.  “There are so many similarities.  We have been together so long.  We believe in so much of the same things and the basic brand of basketball and how you defend.  It all starts with defending and rebounding and getting back on defense and sharing the ball, taking care of the ball, getting good shots and that kind of thing.  We have always shared [those philosophies] and I think that’s why we’ve done well together.  I have always pointed out the issues at halftime or during the game on the bench and making those adjustments.  So hopefully we’ll have somebody that will do that.  I’ve got a lot of faith in our staff and coach [Bobby] Braswell and coach [Kris] Baumann.  They are really tremendous coaches and great minds.  I told the team, and I told those guys, this isn’t about me.  We’re all going to do this together.”

UTEP hung with the heavily-favored Aggies at the Pan American Center for a good long while before eventually succumbing 72-63.  The Miners were outrebounded 46-31 with Matt Willms out of the lineup and freshman Tirus Smith making his first start in the frontcourt.

“We’re going to have to rebound the ball better.  We got crushed over there in Las Cruces on the glass.  That’s really number one,” Johnson said.  “And we’ve got to figure out a way to stop their three-point shooting.  They really shot the ball well [in the first game] and they can shoot the ball well.  It’s one of the things that they do.  And so we’ll have to do a better job there.  And then we’ve got to execute better offensively.  We know we’re short-handed with some guys, and so we’re going to have to stay out of foul trouble as well.  Those are three areas we have talked about in the film.  And how we’re going to guard and all that stuff, we’re still kind of determining those things.”

The Miners are 1-5 to start the season.  They have lost five games to Division I opponents with a combined record of 24-8.  At least 25 games remain, including 18 versus Conference USA opponents.  Willms will be back and the team will get better.

“I feel good about our team,” Johnson said.  “I told them all, everybody has got to pick it up.  We’re better than 1-5.  And we’ve gotten beat by good basketball teams.  We haven’t gotten beat by terrible teams.  Every one of those teams, in fact Appalachian State was a very good basketball team and yet we had our chance to win.  Obviously the Boise State game, we should’ve won.  And the New Mexico State game, we were certainly not out of that game.  And watching the film [of the first NMSU game], we were there.  We were right there.  So we’re not that far away, and that will be our job to try to get us over the hump.”

***UTEP VS UNM

UTEP AND NEW MEXICO TO CLASH IN BATTLE OF UNBEATENS IN I-25 RIVALRY

UTEP (4-0) will challenge I-25 rival (RV) New Mexico (7-0) in a battle of undefeated teams at 5:30 p.m. MST at the Don Haskins Center Thursday. The game is part of a doubleheader with the UTEP men’s team hosting NM State at 8 p.m. One ticket price, starting as low as $8, will get fans into both games. The contest will be broadcast locally on 600 ESPN El Paso, KROD-AM Radio and there will also be a live stream on CUSAtv.com (subscription based).

HOMESTAND NEARING AN END

The tilt is the fifth of a season-opening six-game homestand, Houston Baptist (1 p.m. Saturday) also on the docket. It ties as the second longest homestand to start a season in program history.

GAME FORMAT

For the third straight season, NCAA women’s basketball games will be played in four 10-minute quarters. Teams reach the bonus and shoot two free throws on the fifth team foul in each quarter. In the four-quarter format, team fouls reset to zero at the start of each quarter. Teams have four timeouts (three 30s, one 60), three which carry over to the second half. They will be able to advance the ball to the frontcourt after a timeout with less than 59.9 seconds in 4Q. There are seven media timeouts (four under five minutes in quarter/first called), two intermission media timeouts (after first and third quarters) and the first team-called timeout during the second half. Bands or amplified music may play during any dead ball.

CONNECT ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Fans are encouraged to connect with the Miners on Facebook (UTEP Women’s Basketball), Instagram (@utepwbb) and Twitter (@UTEPWBB). They are also encouraged to use #WeAreMiners in posts.

INSIDE THE SERIES (NEW MEXICO LEADS, 32-17 OVERALL; UTEP LEADS 13-12 IN EL PASO)

New Mexico leads the series, 32-17, but the Miners are 5-3 against the Lobos since the start of 2007-08 season. This is the fourth straight season that the squads are meeting. UTEP has a 13-12 advantage when playing at home, including downing UNM 70-62, on Dec. 2, 2015. The Lobos avenged that loss by knocking off the Miners at The Pit 79-66 on Dec. 11 last season. The rivalry dates to inception of the Miners’ program, with the schools squaring off at least once per year from 1974-75 through 1986-87. It resumed in 1991 and continued through 2001-02, which included a stretch when both programs were members of the WAC.

GETTING TO KNOW NEW MEXICO

New Mexico is flying high at 7-0 on the year, all at home, with a +18.6 (89.3-70.7) margin of victory. It received 19 points and is 29th in the most-recent AP Poll. Most recently the Lobos won their Thanksgiving Tournament with three victories in as many games, including dismantling Big 10 foe Illinois by 31 points (97-68) last time out.

UNM’s high-octane attack is producing 89.3 points per game, with five individuals (Cherise Beynon-16.4 ppg, Jaisa Nunn-16.0 ppg, Tesha Buck-14.7 ppg, Madi Washington-11.2 ppg and Alex Lapeyrolerie-11.0) averaging double figures in scoring. Nunn has also been a beast on the glass (10.7 rpg), including grabbing 35 total offensive boards (5.0 orpg) while Beynon has racked up the assists (7.3 apg).

UNM has top-100 NCAA team rankings for free throws made (180-first), free throws attempted (129-second), fewest turnovers per game (11.3-sixth), scoring offense (89.3-ninth), 3-pointers per game (10.0-12th), assists per game (18.7-27th), turnover margin (+6.1-27th), 3-point field-goal percentage (39.1-36th), scoring margin (+18.6-37th), rebounds per game (43.9-48th), field-goal percentage (43.9-75th), steals per game (9.6-84th) and blocks per game (3.1-93rd).

Individually Beynon is 10th in assists per game (7.3) and 55th in steals per contest (2.9). Nunn is 10th in double-doubles (four), 12th in field-goal percentage (66.1), 33rd for rebounds per game (10.7) and 99th in free-throw percentage (85.7). Tesha Buck is 17th in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.0), 53rd in 3-pointers per game (3.1) and 71st in 3-point percentage (46.8). The Lobos have a proud tradition with 15 postseason appearances (eight NCAA, five WNIT and two WBI) while amassing an all-time record of 616-523 since launching the program in 1974-75.

The University of New Mexico, located in Albuquerque, is the largest state school in New Mexico. It was founded in 1899. Notable alumni include Gary Berntsen (Former CIA Senior Operations Officer), Antoine Predock (Renowned architect who designed Petco Park, and Brian Urlacher (former All-Pro LB for Chicago Bears).

LAST MEETING WITH NEW MEXICO: (at New Mexico 79, UTEP 66, Dec. 11, 2016)

Junior Tamara Seda posted her second straight double-double (career-high 19 points, career-high 16 rebounds) but homestanding New Mexico rode the play of Cheirsa Beynon (24 points, seven assists, six rebounds) and Richelle van der Keijl (18 points, 12 rebounds) to a 79-66 victory at The Pit on Dec. 11, 2016. It was a tale of two halves, with the Lobos clicking on all cylinders over the first 20 minutes to build a 48-29 advantage heading into the locker room. UNM nailed 51.4 percent from the floor, including 43.4 percent on triples, in addition to forcing eight UTEP turnovers in the period. The Miners did an excellent job of making adjustments at the break, and played a much better second half. UTEP outscored UNM, 37-31, during the final 20 minutes but the damage had been done. The Miners made just three turnovers in the second stanza to finish with a season-low 11 giveaways. It marked the third straight game that UTEP has recorded 12 or fewer turnovers. The Orange and Blue also slowed down UNM’s high-octane offense in the second stanza. The Lobos were held to 31 points on 35.5 percent (11-31) shooting in the frame, including 3-15 (20.0 percent) from beyond-the-arc. Overall UNM finished at 43.9 percent (29-66) from the field, including 10-29 (34.5 percent) from distance. UTEP connected on 37.7 percent (26-69), which included drilling a season-best seven three pointers. The Miners also battled on the boards, with UNM holding a slight edge (46-43) in the category.

GOING BACK IN TIME (at UTEP 65, Texas Southern 55 (11/25/17)

Junior Najala Howell (16 points, 10 rebounds) and senior Tamara Seda (13 points, 13 rebounds) each posted double-doubles to help UTEP notch a hard-fought 65-55 win against Texas Southern in the final game of the sixth-annual UTEP Thanksgiving Classic at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 25. The Miners never trailed in the contest and used a 10-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to break the game’s one and only tie (48-48, 5:20 4Q) in decisive fashion. UTEP held the Lady Tigers, who have averaged 20 wins the past five years, to 38.8 percent shooting (19-49) while also crushing them on the boards (46-25). Playing a big role in the rebounding margin was a season-high 21 offensive rebounds which led to 21 second-chance points for the home side.  The Miners connected on 34.0 percent (18-53) of their shots but they more than made up for that with their rebounding and defensive efforts, in addition to setting season bests for free-throws made (26), attempted (33) and percentage (.788). In fact the Orange and Blue were 16-17 at the charity stripe in the pressure-packed fourth quarter. Sophomore Katarina Zec chipped in 10 points, her third straight game in double figures, while also grabbing a career-high eight rebounds. Junior Jordan Alexander registered 13 points and six caroms while sophomore Roeshonda Patterson provided a spark off the best with a season-high seven points and career-high matching three rebounds.

WHAT A START FOR THE BAKER ERA

At 4-0 Kevin Baker has matched the best start by a first-year UTEP head coach in program history. The only other time it happened was in the program’s first season when Carol Ammermann also peeled off four straight victories in 1974-75. Baker is the eighth head coach at the school.

GETTING OUT OF THE GATES FAST

UTEP has peeled off four straight victories to start the season, which already puts it half way toward matching last season’s overall win total (8-23). Additionally it marks the ninth start of at least 4-0 in program history. The Orange and Blue previously achieved the feat in 2015-16 (8-0), 2013-14 (9-0), 2012-13 (5-0), 2011-12 (10-0), 2006-07 (4-0), 1998-99 (4-0), 1996-97 (7-0) and 1974-75 (4-0).

CLEANING UP ON THE BOARDS

UTEP has won the rebounding battle by 20+ boards in back-to-back games for the first time since it also did so in 2011-12 in wins against Texas State on Dec. 31, 2011 (50-24, +26) and SMU on Jan. 5, 2012, (52-28, +24). The Miners outrebounded Arkansas by +24 (51-27) on Nov. 24 while holding a +21 advantage (46-25) on the glass against Texas Southern on Nov. 25. Overall on the year the Miners stand at +14.8 (42.8-28.0) in the department.

KNOCKING DOWN SHOTS

UTEP is shooting 47.2 percent (91-193) from the floor in 2017-18, which was helped by making better than 50 percent in each of the first three games of the season for the first time since at least 1982-83 (prior records incomplete).

GETTING AFTER IT ON DEFENSE

UTEP has held the opposition to 32.8 percent (79-241) from the floor in 2017-18. For the first time 1982-83 (prior records incomplete), the Miners kept their first three foes to below 33 percent shooting before Texas Southern managed to connect on 38.8 percent (19-49) last time out on Nov. 25.

SEDA DOMINATING DOWN LOW

Senior Tamara Seda has been a force to be reckoned with early on in 2017-18. She paces the team in scoring (16.0 ppg), rebounding (9.0 rpg) and double-doubles (two). She has reached double figures in scoring in all four contests, including pouring in a career-best 20 points against both CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 11) and Arkansas (Nov. 24). She is shooting just under 50.0 percent from the floor (49.0) and enters the match-up vs. New Mexico on the strength of back-to-back double-doubles.

ZEC STEPPING HER GAME UP

For the first time of her career sophomore Katarina Zec has reached double figures in scoring in three consecutive contests. Overall she is tied for third on the team in scoring (9.5 ppg) while ranking fourth in rebounding (5.8 rpg).  She is also leading the Miners in playing time (35.5 mpg).  As a freshman she pitched in 5.7 ppg and 1.7 rpg in 20.8 mpg.

COOK FEELING IT  FROM DISTANCE

After shooting 19.3 percent (11-57) from 3-point range as a freshman, Faith Cook has drilled 41.7 percent (5-12) from beyond-the-arc through four games of the 2017-18 season. Included in that was going 3-5 from home run-range in the season-opening win against CSU Bakersfield on Nov. 11. The three triples shattered her previous best of one (11 different games). Overall Cook is accounting for 6.5 ppg after putting up 1.9 ppg a year ago.

HOWELL PUTTING UP THE POINTS

Junior Najala Howell has reached double figures in scoring in all four games this season, including a 19-point effort (one shy of her career high) against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Nov. 18. She followed that up with a 15-point effort in the win vs. SEC foe Arkansas on Nov. 24 before posting her second career double-double (16 points, 10 boards) in the Miners’ victory vs. Texas Southern on Nov. 25. Howell has been incredibly efficient, pacing the team in field-goal percentage (63.6) while ranking second in scoring (15.0). She is also second on the squad in playing time (33.2 mpg).

COMING ALIVE FROM 3-POINT LAND

Najala Howell leads the team in 3-pointers made (seven), attempted (13) and 3-point field-goal percentage (53.8). Helping her cause was burying a career-high three triples in the win vs. Arkansas on Nov. 24. It’s a stark improvement from a year ago when she hit 35.2 percent (19-54) from beyond-the-arc.

ALEXANDER GETTING AFTER IT

Junior Jordan Alexander, one of two newcomers on this year’s squad, is looking like a difference maker. She paces the team in free-throws made (20) and attempted (25) while ranking second in rebounding (7.5 rpg) and tied for third in scoring (9.5 ppg). The majority of her rebounds (25-of-30) have been at the defensive end, which has helped the Miners produce a +14.8 (42.8-28.0) rebounding margin.

TAKING DOWN A POWER PROGRAM

UTEP downed Arkansas, 64-61, on Nov. 24 to secure its first win in program history against an SEC opponent. Overall it is UTEP’s initial regular-season victory against a power-five conference foe since it crushed Kansas State, 84-39, on Nov. 16, 2013. The Miners are now 11-53 all time vs. teams from a power five conference (at point of match-up), but they are 7-10 since 2012-13.

SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST

After scoring 37 points through three quarters of action, the Miners erupted for 30 points over the final 10 minutes to erase an eight-point deficit and rally past CSU Bakersfield on Nov. 11. The 30 points are the most scored in the fourth quarter by the Miners in program history and rank tied for fifth-most points in a quarter overall at the school.

MORE ON THAT FINAL FRAME

UTEP shot a sizzling 80 percent (8-10) from the floor in the fourth quarter while limiting CSUB to 18.8 percent (3-16). But perhaps the stat that jumps out above any other over the final 10 minutes is rebounding. UTEP had a whopping 16-2 advantage on the glass in the period, helping it turn a 28-20 deficit in the department through three quarters of action into a final 36-30 margin. UTEP also limited its turnovers to four after entering with 17.

STAUNCH DEFENSE TO START

Twice this year the Miners have held opponents to five points or less in the first quarter of play. UTEP conceded only three points in the first quarter against Arkansas on Nov. 24, which ties the program standard for fewest points allowed in a frame. The Miners held the Razorbacks to 0-15 shooting from the floor in the stanza; all three points came at the charity stripe. The Orange and Blue previously limited CSU Bakersfield to five points in the first frame on Nov. 11. It set the then program standard for fewest points allowed in the first quarter and tied as third for fewest points in a quarter overall.

PLENTY OF PLAYING TIME TO GO AROUND

The Miners have only 10 active players this year, meaning that there’s going to be plenty of playing time to go around. Head coach Kevin Baker has done a good job of spreading the minutes around with seven different Miners (Katarina Zec-35.5, Najala Howell-33.2, Tamara Seda-29.0, Jordan Alexander-28.0, Faith Cook-25.8, Jordan Jenkins-18.8 and Zuzanna Puc-16.5) logging at least 16 minutes per contest

IN THE NCAA RANKINGS

The Miners have top-100 NCAA team rankings for rebound margin (+14.8-12th), field-goal percentage defense (32.8-17th), fewest personal fouls per game (14.5-21st), field-goal percentage (47.2-25th), scoring defense (55.2-39th), 3-point field-goal percentage (38.3-43rd), 3-point field-goal percentage defense (27.6-70th), rebounds per game (42.8-73rd), scoring margin (+11.0-84th) and assists per game (15.8-85th). Individually Najala Howell is 21st in field-goal percentage (63.6), Katarina Zec is 33rd in free-throw percentage (90.9) and 88th in minutes per game (35.5) and Tamara Seda is 100th in rebounds per game (9.0)

GETTING TO KNOW THE 2017-18 MINERS

UTEP returned eight letter winners (Faith Cook, Jakeira Ford, Najala Howell, Roeshonda Patterson, Zuzanna Puc, Tamara Seda, Rachel Tapps and Katarina Zec) from last year’s squad (8-23, 5-11 Conference USA). Puc, Seda and Zec all started for UTEP in 2016-17. The Miners also added four newcomers (Jordan Alexander, Ariona Gill, Jordan Jenkins and Neidy Ocuane) but Gill and Ocuane are slated to take a redshirt year in 2017-18. The squad is under the direction of first-year head coach Kevin Baker, who is assisted by first-year assistants Nicole Dunson, Michael Madrid and Lori Morris.

ROSTER BREAKDOWN

Head coach Kevin Baker inherited a young team, with 60% of the active roster (6-of-10) comprised of sophomores (Faith Cook, Jakeira Ford, Roeshonda Patterson, Zuzanna Puc, Rachel Tapps and Katarina Zec). The Miners have just three upperclassmen, in the form of one senior (Tamara Seda) to go along with returning junior Najala Howell and junior-college transfer Jordan Alexander. Freshman Jordan Jenkins rounded out the active roster. Two other newcomers (junior-college transfers Ariona Gill and Neidy Ocuane) are sitting out the 2017-18 season as redshirts.

NEW FACES

The Miners have four newcomers to the squad in 2017-18 though two of the additions (junior Ariona Gill, 5-11, G/F, San Jacinto College) and junior Neidy Ocuane (5-5, G, Seward County CC) are redshirting the 2017-18 season. Junior Jordan Alexander (5-11, F, Trinity Valley CC) and true freshman Jordan Jenkins (5-3, G, Buffalo HS) both have started the first four games and are expected to remain significant contributors throughout the year. Last year Alexander helped TVCC qualify for its 10th straight trip to the national tournament and finish with an overall record of 30-6. She put up 6.5 points per game while also grabbing 2.5 rebounds per game. Jenkins averaged 20 points, eight steals, seven assists and six rebounds to help her squad earn runner-up honors in Texas 2017 in the UIL 3A playoffs. Ocuane paced her team in assists per game (4.7) and steals per game (2.4) while ranking fourth in scoring (11.2). Her efforts helped it win the program’s first conference title in eight years.

NOTING THE SCHEDULE

The return of the UTEP Thanksgiving Classic and a 16-game Conference USA slate, match-ups against both New Mexico and NM State and non-conference contests against power league members Arkansas and East Carolina highlight the 2017-18 UTEP women’s basketball schedule. There are also games against three teams that played in the 2017 NCAA Tournament (NM State, Texas Southern and WKU) and four from the 2017 Postseason WNIT (Georgetown, LA Tech, Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss)

THE BAKER FILE

Kevin Baker was appointed as the eighth head coach in UTEP women’s basketball history on Monday, April 24, 2017. He has a unique background which has seen him rise through the coaching ranks from high school level, to NCAA Division III, then NCAA Division II and now his NCAA Division I position at UTEP. Throughout his ascent, though, he has consistently found a way to win. He is 348-131 overall in his 16th year as a head coach, including 126-30 in his sixth season as a college head coach. He has set school records for wins at every stop of his career, and has taken every school to the playoffs with a total of five district championships. He is an eight-time Coach of the Year. In his stops most recently prior to UTEP, Baker’s teams captured back-to-back conference championships at UT-Tyler and Angelo State. Baker has led both a Division II (Angelo State) and Division III (UT-Tyler) school to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

HISTORY Of FIRST-YEAR COACHES AT UTEP

In terms of success rate in the first season on the sidelines, Carol Ammerman (11-5, 1974-75) and Janet Wood (11-16, 1979-80) share the platform for most victories by a Miner head coach in their initial campaign. Ammerman’s effort came in the first year of the program, and is also the lone winning record by a first-year Miner head coach in school history. Overall the prior seven head coaches at UTEP are a combined 54-120 (8-17 average record). Needless to say, Kevin Baker is hoping to buck that trend in 2017-18.

EXPERIENCED STAFF

While head coach Kevin Baker and his three assistants (Nicole Dunson, Michael Madrid and Lori Morris) are in their first year at UTEP, they brought plenty of coaching experience to the Sun City. The quartet entered the 2017-18 season with a combined 93 years of coaching experience (Morris-37 years, Baker-23 years, Madrid-22 years and Dunson-11 years).

BASIC FACTS ON THE PROGRAM

UTEP is 551-648 in its 44th season as a women’s basketball program, including 4-0 in 2017-18. The Miners have made four postseason bids (2016,-WNIT quarterfinals; 2014-WNIT runner-up, 2012-NCAA first round and 2008-NCAA second round), sporting a combined record of 9-4 (8-2 WNIT, 1-2 NCAA). UTEP has claimed four league championships (2016 C-USA regular season, 2012 C-USA regular season and conference tournament and 2008 C-USA regular season). It has a 1-1 record all time in league tournament title games, winning the title in 2012 and falling in 2008. There have been six 20+ win seasons (all since 2006-07), including four of the past six years. UTEP has cracked the top-25 poll in two seasons (2015-16, 2007-08), including being ranked in the final six weeks in ‘07-08, while receiving votes in eight campaigns total (‘15-16, ‘13-14, ‘12-13, ‘11-12, ‘08-09, ‘07-08 and ‘06-07). The Miners have been mentioned in the AP Preseason Poll four times, including garnering three points in 2016-17. In 2008 UTEP became the first C-USA women’s team to finish undefeated in league play (16-0) while claiming the program’s initial league title in 2008. The Miners finished 15-1 in C-USA in 2012 in addition to also winning the program’s first conference tournament championship. UTEP owns the C-USA single-season record for winning streak at 23, which was set in 2007-08. The University of Texas at El Paso (founded in 1914) recently enjoyed its centennial celebration. Notable alumni include former ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Sam Donaldson, well-respected NFL referee Ed Hochuli, former NASA astronaut Danny Olivas engineer & Dennis Poon, who designed Taipei 101 & some of the tallest buildings in the world.

THIRD-BEST IN TEXAS SINCE 2006-07

The Miners have the third-highest winning percentage among all DI programs in Texas since ‘06-07. Baylor (354-52, 87.2%), and Texas A&M (287-99, 74.4%) lead the way followed by UTEP (233-120, 66.0%).  Texas (239-133, 64.2%-4th), Lamar (214-137, 61.0%-5th), Stephen F. Austin (206-140, 59.5%-6th), TCU (204-152, 57.3%-7th), SMU (189-160, 54.2%-9th), Prairie View A&M (190-165, 53.5%-9th) and Texas Tech (181-175, 50.8%-10th) round out the top 10.

SPECIAL RUN

The Miners are 133-66 since the start of the 2011-12 season, with 80 double-digit victories in that time frame. UTEP has played postseason basketball in three of the past six seasons, making two deep runs in the WNIT (2014 runner-up, 2016 quarterfinals) and earning the C-USA automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament (lost, first round). It is has enjoyed 14 separate winning streaks of at least three games during that time frame.

HOME SWEET HOME

UTEP has an all-time home record of 355-214, including standing 4-0 this year. The Miners have amassed a record of 157-40 at home since 2006-07, including 90-23 since 2011-12. Aiding that 90-23 record over the past six years was a school-record 19-1 home mark in 2015-16. The match-up against New Mexico is the fifth of 16 regular-season tilts at the Don Haskins Center in 2017-18. UTEP has been particularly strong in non-conference play, sporting a record of 79-11 at home in the situation since 2006-07.

ALL ABOUT THE FANS

The Miners received tremendous support to help propel them to a pair of deep runs in the WNIT (2014 runner-up honors, 2016 quarterfinals) in the past four years. UTEP averaged 7,773 fans per game during the 10 WNIT contests (8-2 record) in El Paso. Aiding those numbers were back-to-back sellouts , the first in program history, in the semifinals and finals of the 2014 WNIT. The Miners have ranked in the top-50 nationally for attendance in three of the past six years. UTEP placed 28th in 2013-14 (3,793 avg.), 42nd in 2012-13 (2,708 avg.) and 46th in 2011-12 (2,639 avg.). The Miners are 28-10 when playing in front of 4,000+ fans since 2001-02. They are 25-3 in the situation at the Don Haskins Center and 3-7 when doing so on the road.

TRAVEL TIME

UTEP is 139-355 all time on the road, including a record of 1-9 during the 2016-17 season. When playing at a neutral site the Miners stand 57-78, including five losses to power-five programs last season. Since the start of the 2006-07 season UTEP is 57-62 on the road, including 33-31 since 2011-12.

CAREER ACHIEVEMENTS

Redshirt-senior Tamara Seda ranks sixth at UTEP in blocked shots (72), tied seventh in double-doubles (13), tied  23rd in rebounds (456) and 48th in scoring (511).

2016-17 IN REVIEW

UTEP went through a rebuilding year in 2016-17, finishing with a record of 8-23, including 5-13 in Conference USA play, before bowing out in the first round of the 2017 C-USA Championships. The youth-laden Miners lost all five starters from the 2015-16 season and returned only four letter winners from that squad, giving them a new look for the year. UTEP played its most challenging non-conference schedule in program history with a single-season school-record five games against teams from power five conferences. It went 0-5 in those contests while finishing 3-4 vs. non power league programs in non-conference play. Overall UTEP was saddled with a 2-9 start to the year before going 3-3 over the next six games. The Miners then lost a season-long six straight and eight of the next nine before posting back-to-back victories. UTEP dropped its final two games of the regular season and was upended by sixth-seeded Old Dominion in the first round of the C-USA Championships, 80-70

CLIFF NOTES ON THE 2017-18 SEASON

UTEP TAKES DOWN SEC FOE ARKANSAS, 64-61 (at UTEP 64, Arkansas 61 (11/24/17)

UTEP posted a wire-to-wire 64-61 victory against Southeastern Conference foe Arkansas in its opening game of the sixth-annual UTEP Thanksgiving Classic at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 24. The Miners raced out to a 13-2 lead four minutes in, were up 18 (38-20) at half and 16 (52-36) through three quarters before withstanding a furious rally attempt by the Razorbacks. UA managed to whittle UTEP’s advantage all the way down to one (62-61) but sophomore Faith Cook hit a fadeaway jumper to beat the shot clock with eight seconds left in the game to put the Miners back up by three. The visitor’s Devin Cosper then misfired on a triple at the other end. Tamara Seda notched a double-double (career-high tying 20 points, 10 rebounds) to lead UTEP, but she was buoyed by 14 points and eight rebounds from Najala Howell and 10 points and six boards by Katarina Zec. Jordan Jenkins did her part with a career-high seven assists while Zuzanna Puc pitched in eight points and four boards in 15 minutes off the bench in her 2017-18 debut. UTEP connected on better than 50.0 percent (50.8 percent, 27-53) from the floor for the third straight game, something it hasn’t done to start a season since at least 1981-82 (prior stats incomplete). The Miners also defended tirelessly, holding Arkansas to 30.0 percent (21-70) from the floor. The Razorbacks jacked up 41 3-point shots, but only made 11, for a readout of 26.8 percent. The Orange and Blue took care of business on the boards, winning the rebounding battle to the tune of 51-27. Helping that figure was 40 defensive boards, the most against a division I opponent since also securing 40 against Tulane on March 8, 2013. An area of concern for UTEP was turnovers (23) which led to 22 Arkansas points. But the Orange and Blue compensated for that by the dominance in other areas, in addition to holding a 38-18 advantage in points in the paint.

UTEP CRUISES PAST TEXAS A&M-CORPUS CHRISTI, 69-49

at UTEP 69, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 49 (11/18/17)

UTEP played well in all facets off the game in a convincing 69-49 victory against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 18. The Miners shot 54.3 percent (25-46) from the floor while stifling the Islanders to a readout of 31.1 percent (19-61), including 4-15 (26.7 percent) from distance. UTEP won the boards (38-30), racked up 19 assists compared to 14 turnovers and led for the majority of the contest. Najala Howell paced the Orange and Blue with 19 points-one shy of a personal best- while also dishing out a career-high seven assists. Katarina Zec (12 points), Tamara Seda (11 points) and Jakeira Ford (10 points) all joined her in double figures for scoring while Jordan Alexander pitched in seven points.  Four different Miners grabbed at least five rebounds, with Ford leading the way with six caroms.  UTEP led by two (14-12) after the first quarter before outscoring the visitors 35-16 over the next two frames to blow open the game.

 

UTEP RALLIES PAST CSU BAKERSFIELD IN OPENER, 67-56

at UTEP 67, CSU Bakersfield 56 (11/11/17)

UTEP used a huge fourth quarter to rally past CSU Bakersfield, 67-56, in the 2017-18 season opener for both squads at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 11. The Roadrunners led by eight (45-37) through three quarters of action but the Miners opened up the final frame on an 13-1 run to help fuel a dominant 30-11 advantage over the last 10 minutes of action. Senior Tamara Seda (20 points), junior Jordan Alexander (15 points) and sophomore Faith Cook (14 points) each established career highs to lead the way for the Miners, who were victorious in head coach Kevin Baker’s Division I coaching debut. Junior Najala Howell (10 points) also reached double digits in scoring for UTEP, which nailed 51.2 percent (21-41) from the floor and 42.9 percent (6-14) from beyond-the-arc. Alexander, who played her freshman year at DI Louisiana before transferring to Trinity Valley, grabbed a personal-best 10 boards for her first career double-double while Seda added eight caroms. UTEP won the rebounding battle, 36-30, which was aided by a whopping 16-2 advantage in the fourth quarter. The Miners held CSUB to 32.8 percent (20-61) from the floor.

START IT OFF STRONG

UTEP improved to 24-20 all time in season openers, including 21-7 when doing so in El Paso. Overall in home openers, the Miners now stand 28-14 (missing outcomes in some years).

RECAPPING THE EXHIBITION SEASON

For the first time since the 2007-08 season, the Miners played a pair of exhibition games to prepare for the regular season. UTEP split the contests, drilling NCAA Division III member Sul Ross State, 99-40, on Oct. 29, while falling to NCAA Division II member St. Mary’s (Texas), 68-62, on Nov. 4. Katarina Zec (17.5 points per game) was the top point producer for the Miners but four others (Tamara Seda-16.5 ppg, Najala Howell-15.0 ppg, Jordan Alexander-11.0 ppg and Jakeira Ford-11.0 ppg) also averaged double figures in scoring. As a team UTEP shot 45.5 percent (56-123) from the floor while holding its foes to 30.9 percent (38-123). The Miners excelled at the free-throw line (35-42, 83.3 percent) and also dominated the rebounding department (51.0 rebounds per game to 27.5 opponent rebounds per game).

A recap of each of the contests is below.

St. Mary’s (Texas) 68, at UTEP 62 (11/4/17)

Five different Miners reached double figures in scoring but visiting NCAA Division II St. Mary’s (Texas) used a barrage of three pointers to down UTEP, 68-62, in an exhibition contest at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 4. The Miners were clicking on all cylinders early with a 22-point first quarter, which helped propel them to a 35-27 advantage at the half. The visiting Rattlers came out firing after the break, eventually pulling ahead by 12 (61-49) with 7:36 to play in the game. UTEP scored the game’s next 10 points to help fuel a 13-1 run to even the tilt at 62 with 2:25 remaining. But St. Mary’s, which finished 21-7 a year ago, received back-to-back triples from Sierra Dixon to decide the game. The long-distance hits were part of 14 on the day for St. Mary’s, including five alone in the final frame. Jordan Alexander (14 points) led a quintet of Miners in double figures offensively, with Katarina Zec (12 points), Najala Howell (12 points), Tamara Seda (10 points) and Jakeira Ford (10 points) joining her. Seda pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds for a double-double, which also helped UTEP win the boards, 46-33. UTEP shot it reasonably well at 40.7 percent (24-59), but it struggled from beyond-the-arc at 26.7 percent (4-15). While the Miners held St. Mary’s to 35.4 percent shooting (23-65), they allowed the Rattlers to drill 14-of-31 (45.2 percent) from downtown.

 

at UTEP 99, Sul Ross State 40 (10/29/17)

UTEP raced out to a 52-17 halftime lead and never looked back on the way to a 99-40 exhibition win against Division III Sul Ross State at the Don Haskins Center on Oct. 29. Senior Tamara Seda dominated with a monstrous double-double (23 points, 15 rebounds) while sophomore Katarina Zec (23 points, nine boards) and junior Najala Howell (18 points, seven rebounds) also had big days. Seda also added four blocks and four steals. The Miners shot 50.0 percent (32-64) from the floor, including 45.5 percent (10-22) from distance, while also nailing 86.2 percent (25-29) at the charity stripe. It was a different story for the visiting Lady Lobos, who were harassed into 22 turnovers and held to 25.9 percent (15-58) from the floor. UTEP also took care of business on the boards, outrebounding Sul Ross State, 56-22. Seda led the way with a game-high 15 boards while Jordan Alexander pulled down 11 caroms. Alexander added eight points in her Miner debut. An area of concern for UTEP was turnovers with 19, but 14 of those came in the first half. ​y

***UTEP VS NMSU 

MINERS, AGGIES MEET IN I-10 REMATCH
Five days after NM State (4-1) handled UTEP (1-5) in Las Cruces by the score of 72-63, the Miners and the Aggies meet in the I-10 rematch on Thursday night at the Don Haskins Center.  FirstLight Federal Credit Union is the official sponsor of the UTEP-NM State rivalry.  Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. MT.  It’s game two of a “Rivalry Week” doubleheader as the 4-0 UTEP women will face 7-0 New Mexico at 5:30 p.m.  UTEP is in the midst of a season-long, nine-game homestand which started with a 66-52 loss to Lamar on Monday.  Following the game, coach Tim Floyd announced his retirement and, on Tuesday, Phil Johnson was appointed the Miners’ interim head coach.  Johnson will be leading the bench for the first time since March 8, 2005, when he finished his fourth and final season as the head coach at San Jose State with a 72-48 loss to Hawaii in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.

ON THE AIR
The game will be streamed live on Facebook by Stadium with Jason Knapp, Ben Braun and Shae Peppler handling the call.  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.

TIM FLOYD RETIRES
Tim Floyd announced his retirement as the Miners’ head coach on Monday following the game versus Lamar at the Haskins Center.  Floyd closes out his collegiate coaching career with a record of 466-279, and a 138-99 mark at UTEP.  He previously was the head coach at Idaho (1986-88), New Orleans (1988-94), Iowa State (1994-98) and USC (2005-09) prior to returning to UTEP as head coach for the 2010-11 season.  He was an assistant coach under Don Haskins at UTEP from 1978-86.  Floyd’s teams made eight NCAA Tournament appearances and five trips to the NIT.  He was also head coach of the Chicago Bulls (1998-2002) and the New Orleans Hornets (2003-04) in the NBA.  The Miners finished 75-43 in Conference USA play under Floyd, with top three finishes on four occasions in seven full seasons (tied for second 2010-11, third 2012-13, tied for second 2014-15, tied for third 2016-17).  He ranks second in UTEP history in victories and has coached the second-most games of any UTEP coach (237).

PHIL JOHNSON TAKES OVER
Phil Johnson was named UTEP’s interim men’s basketball coach on Tuesday, following the retirement of Tim Floyd.  Johnson has assisted Floyd on the bench at the University of New Orleans (1991-93), with the NBA’s Chicago Bulls (1999-02), at USC (2005-09) and at UTEP (2010-17).  He was the head coach at San Jose State for four seasons (1998-99, 2002-05).  Johnson has coached in nine NCAA Tournaments and two Final Fours and was a part of the Arizona Wildcats’ national championship run in 1997.  Johnson’s record as a head coach against NM State is 0-0.

COACHES’ NEW BEGINNINGS
UTEP coaches have posted a 9-9 record in their debuts.  Five straight coaches had won in their opening assignment (Don Haskins, Jason Rabedeaux, Billy Gillispie, Doc Sadler, Tony Barbee) before Tim Floyd dropped his Miner debut to Pacific, 66-61, on Nov. 12, 2010 in the Haskins Center.  Only one UTEP coach has tipped off his tenure by facing I-10 rival NM State.  Dale Waters had the honor of opening the 1945-46 season versus the Aggies and his team pulled out a 41-36 victory.

ABOUT NM STATE
The Aggies have been idle since beating the Miners on Saturday night and will be facing UTEP back-to-back for the first time since the 2010-11 season.  Graduate transfer Zach Lofton, the 2017 SWAC Player of the Year at Texas Southern, is averaging a team-leading 23.8 ppg with a .609 field goal percentage, .467 three-point percentage and .677 free throw percentage.  Junior forward Eli Chuha is second on the squad in scoring with 12.6 ppg.  Senior forward Jemerrio Jones is averaging 9.2 ppg and 11.6 rpg.  NM State has dominated opponents on the glass with a rebound margin of +14.0 per game.  NM State ranked third nationally in rebound margin (behind Wichita State and Cincinnati) through the games of Nov. 28.  Jones was seventh in rebounding and third in offensive rebounds per game (5.0), and Lofton was eighth in scoring.  Chris Jans is in his first year as the head coach at NM State.  He previously coached at Kirkwood CC, Independence CC, Howard College and Chipola College in the junior college ranks, and was the head coach at Bowling Green during the 2014-15 season where he compiled a 21-12 record.

CONNECTIONS
NM State Assistant Coach David Anwar was a member of Doc Sadler’s UTEP staff during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.  He served as Director of Basketball Operations with the Miners.

SERIES HISTORY
This is the longest-running series in school history (215th meeting).  NM State leads the series 111-103.  The Aggies have won nine of the last 10 games between the rivals and six straight.  The Miners’ last victory came by the score of 77-76 on Nov. 22, 2014 in the Haskins Center.  The Aggies won in El Paso during the 2015-16 (73-53) and 2016-17 (79-68) seasons.  The Miners have a 62-49 advantage in games played in the Sun City.  NMSU has won three of the last four games between the teams in the Haskins Center after UTEP won eight of the previous 10.

THE LAST MEETING
Down to only nine scholarship players, including two over 6-7, the UTEP men’s basketball team battled NM State to the end before falling 72-63 on Nov. 25 at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces.  The Miners played the Aggies to a 20-20 deadlock in the first 16 minutes before NMSU ended the half with a 9-2 run.  UTEP opened the second half with a 12-5 run to tie it at 34.  The Aggies outscored the Miners 17-3 over the next five minutes to take their largest lead, 51-37, on a three-pointer by Zach Lofton with 11:56 to go.  UTEP was able to get within six three times the rest of the way, the last at 68-62 with 52 seconds remaining, before the Aggies closed it out with free throws.  Evan Gilyard scored in double figures for the first time as a Miner, tying Paul Thomas for team-high scoring honors with 14 points.  He added five rebounds and two steals.  Keith Frazier and Omega Harris added 13 points each for UTEP.  Frazier pulled down seven rebounds as the Miners predictably were dominated on the glass, 46-31.  NMSU also shot better (43.9 percent to 36.8 percent) and made 10 three pointers, including three from Sidy N’Dir.  A key stat in UTEP’s favor was an 18-5 edge in points off turnovers.  The Miners had 11 giveaways and 16 takeaways on the night.  Lofton, who came in averaging 25.3 points per game, got going late for the Aggies with 13 points over the final 14:18.  He finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.  N’Dir added 13 points and Wilkins had 10 for NMSU.

MINERS VERSUS THE AGGIES
Senior guard Omega Harris will be playing in his seventh game of the I-10 rivalry on Thursday.  His career numbers versus the Aggies are 84 points (14.0 ppg), 19 rebounds (3.2 rpg), seven assists (1.2 apg) and four steals (0.7 spg) with a .468 (29-for-62) field goal percentage, .563 (9-for-16) three-point field goal percentage and .680 (17-for-25) free throw percentage.  Junior forward Paul Thomas has faced NMSU on five occasions with 32 points (6.4 ppg), 15 rebounds (3.0 rpg), five assists (1.0 apg), two blocks (0.4 bpg), one steal (0.2 spg),  a .483 (14-for-29) field goal percentage and .667 (2-for-3) free throw percentage.  Senior forward Jake Flaggert has six career appearances versus the Aggies with 14 points (2.3 ppg), 11 rebounds (1.8 rpg), two blocks (0.3 bpg), one steal (0.2 spg), a .267 (4-for-15) field goal percentage and .267 (4-for-15) three-point percentage.  Junior guard Trey Touchet has tallied two assists and a steal in five matchups with NMSU.  Keith Frazier, Evan Gilyard, Kobe Magee, Isiah Osborne and Tirus Smith all saw their first action against the Aggies on Nov. 25 in Las Cruces.

WILLMS SIDELINED
Senior center Matt Willms, the Miners’ leading scorer and rebounder, will be out until mid to late December with a spiral fracture in his right hand.  The injury occurred late in the Miners’ 76-72 loss to Appalachian State on Nov. 19.  Willms is averaging 14.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks this season, shooting 60.5 percent from the field.  He is coming off back-to-back 18-point outings versus South Carolina and Appalachian State in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off at Myrtle Beach.  His loss leaves the Miners even more short-handed in the frontcourt, with junior forward Paul Thomas and freshman forward Tirus Smith the only scholarship players taller than 6-7.

LAST GAME
Lamar made 9-of-14 three-point shots in the first half in blowing out to a 20-point lead, and a late rally by UTEP came up short as the Miners fell to the Cardinals, 66-52, on Monday at the Don Haskins Center.  Joey Frenchwood made four three-pointers in the first half and Zjori Bosha made three for the Cardinals, who improved to 2-0 on the road this season with victories at Tulsa and UTEP.  The Miners never led after falling behind 13-0 in the first three minutes.  UTEP was only down nine (24-15) when Kobe Magee hit a three-pointer with 8:52 remaining in the half.  But the Cardinals used a 14-3 run to push their advantage to 20 (38-18).  Lamar was comfortably in front the entire second half, despite a frantic finish that saw the Miners pull within nine points with 39 seconds left.  UTEP utilized a 15-4 run to trim a 20-point deficit down to 61-52.  Trey Wade, returning to the lineup after missing a game with a hyperextended knee, was the only UTEP player in double figures with 13 points.  Bosha scored 18 points, Josh Nzeakor 15, Frenchwood 12 and Colton Weisbrod 11 for the Cardinals.  Lamar shot 39 percent from the field to UTEP’s 33.3 percent, and the Cardinals outscored the Miners 14-7 in points off turnovers.

CHECKING THE C-USA STATS
Through the games of Nov. 29, UTEP held top-five Conference USA rankings in field goal percentage defense (second, .397), blocked shots (fourth, 4.8 bpg) and scoring defense (fifth, 67.0 ppg).  Individually, Isiah Osborne was third in three-point field goal percentage (.538), Keith Frazier was eighth in three-point field goals made per game (2.3) and Trey Wade was 10th in blocks (1.4 bpg).

WADE LEADS THE WAY
For the second straight game, a freshman led UTEP in scoring as Trey Wade put 13 points on the board against Lamar on Monday.  On Nov. 25 at NM State, fellow frosh Evan Gilyard tied for team-high honors with 14 points at NM State.  UTEP has had a newcomer pace the team in scoring in five of six games this season.  For Wade, it was his second double-figure performance as a Miner, with both coming in a reserve role.  He scored 10 points off the bench in the opener versus Louisiana College.

BENCH OUTSCORES STARTERS
UTEP received 28 points from its reserves and 24 points from its starters on Monday against Lamar.  The Miners actually dominated the bench scoring line versus the Cardinals, 28-2.  No UTEP starter scored in double figures against Lamar, marking the first time that has happened since Dec. 19, 2015 versus NM State.  UTEP’s bench has outscored the starters twice this season.  On Nov. 19 versus Appalachian State, the bench scored 40 points and the starters produced 32 points.

MORE ON THE BENCH STRENGTH
UTEP’s bench is averaging 23.2 points per game this season.  UTEP has gotten 40 points from its bench in two games (Louisiana College, Appalachian State).  A year ago, the Miners’ season high for bench points was 35.  Freshman Trey Wade is the team leader in bench points in 2017-18 (38, 7.6 ppg).  Three Miners have scored in double figures in a game off the bench this season with Osborne (17 points) and Trey Wade (10) doing so versus Louisiana College, Keith Frazier (25 points) achieving the feat against Appalachian State, and Wade pouring in 13 points in relief versus Lamar.

SHORING UP THE 3-POINT DEFENSE
UTEP opponents have made at least eight three-point field goals in every game this season, with three teams (Louisiana College, Appalachian State, NM State) connecting on eight triples.  But in the final 20 minutes versus Lamar on Monday, the Miners held an opponent without a trifecta in a half for the first time this season (and for the first time since the second game of the 2016-17 campaign).  The Cardinals were 0-for-4 from beyond the arc in the second half after shooting a sizzling 64.3 percent (9-for-14) from downtown in the first half.

FRESHMEN POINT GUARDS STEP UP
After taking a few games to get acclimated to the college level, freshmen point guards Evan Gilyard and Kobe Magee have played a more integral role over the last couple of outings.  Gilyard has scored 23 points (11.5 ppg) in the last two games.  He tied for team-high honors with 14 points at NM State, then hit three threes in the first half against Lamar.  He played a season-high 33 minutes versus the Aggies.  Gilyard leads the Miners in assists (17), steals (eight) and free throw percentage (.875).  Magee recorded his first points of the season against Lamar, while playing his UTEP-high 25 minutes.  He also pulled down a career-best five rebounds versus the Cardinals.

FOUR LINEUPS
UTEP has utilized four different starting lineups in the first six games of the season.  Isiah Osborne made his first start as a Miner the last time out versus Lamar.  Omega Harris and Paul Thomas are the only players to start each of the first six games.

PAUL PRODUCES
After putting up subpar numbers in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, junior forward Paul Thomas looked more like himself in round one at NM State.  He tied for team-high scoring honors with 14 points (12 in the second half), and pulled down five rebounds in 30 minutes of work.  What’s more, Thomas showed off his new diversified game as he made two three-pointers.  Entering the contest, Thomas was a combined 0-for-5 from beyond the arc in his first 58 collegiate games.

HARRIS HELPING ON THE BOARDS
Senior guard Omega Harris has made a name for himself by scoring 1,100 points at UTEP, but this year he has been a factor on the glass as well.  Harris has pulled down five or more rebounds in four of six games; last season he did so only eight times in 31 contests.  Against Appalachian State on Nov. 19, Harris led the Miners in rebounding (five) for the first time in his collegiate career.  He followed that up by snaring six rebounds at NM State and five versus Lamar.  His career-high for boards is 10 versus Charlotte on March 4, 2017.  Harris is averaging 4.5 rebounds in 2017-18, third on the team.  He averaged 2.0 rebounds as a freshman, 2.5 as a sophomore and 3.6 as a junior.

FRAZIER’S IMPACT
Grad transfer Keith Frazier has scored 20+ points twice, has one double-double and another near double-double in the first six games of the season.  He scored 25 points versus Appalachian State, had 22 points and 10 rebounds against Boise State and 13 points/nine boards versus Louisiana College.  Frazier is second on the team in scoring (14.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.2 rpg), and third in assists (1.5 apg).  Not bad for a guy who had played in only four collegiate games since December of 2015 prior to making his return to the court with the Miners.

FRAZIER’S BIG GAME OFF THE BENCH
Keith Frazier came off the bench for the first time this season versus Appalachian State (Nov. 19) and scored 25 points.  It marked the most points by a UTEP reserve since Deon Barrett scored 25 off the pine at New Mexico on Dec. 7, 2016.  Before that, the last Miner to score 25+ points off the bench in a game was Randy Culpepper with 25 against UCF on Feb. 11, 2009.

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 team with four charges drawn each.  Together they have accounted for 80 percent (8-of-10) of the Miners’ charges drawn this season.

THE DEFENSE NEVER RESTS
While the Miners have been inconsistent offensively while dealing with injuries to key players, the defense has been a constant through six games.  Opponents are shooting 39.7 percent from the floor, and UTEP has held four of five Division I opponents well below their scoring average coming into the game.  Boise State scored 58 points (97.0 ppg coming in), Appalachian State scored 76 points (98.8 ppg), NM State scored 72 points (79.8 ppg) and Lamar scored 66 points (84.2 ppg).

VETS CARRYING THE LOAD
Including grad transfer Keith Frazier, UTEP has received 51.6 percent of its points (206-of-399), 46.3 percent of its rebounds (93-of-201) and 42.1 percent of its assists (32-of-76) from players who are in their final year in the Orange and Blue.  The Miners’ top three scorers are senior Matt Willms (14.8 ppg), Frazier (14.0 ppg) and senior Omega Harris (9.8 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.

OMEGA & THE UTEP CHARTS
Despite being hampered by a back injury, Omega Harris has continued his climb up the UTEP career charts in 2017-18.  He is currently 28th in scoring with 1,100 points.  Antonio Davis is his next target on the list (27th place, 1,117 points).  Harris is fifth in three-point field goals (133) and chasing Mark Ingles (fourth, 140).  He is tied for 15th place in steals (101) with Quintan Gates and Kevin Henderson.  With two more takeaways, Harris will move into a tie for 13th place in steals with Eugene Costello and Kimani Jones-Young.

MATT’S BLOCK PARTY
With 107 career blocks, Matt Willms is tied for seventh place in the UTEP record book with Ralph Davis.  He is in pursuit of John Tofi, who sits in sixth place with 110 rejections.  Willms has blocked 10 shots in only four games this season, and tied his career-high with five versus Boise State in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

JAKE TAKES CHARGE
Jake Flaggert led Conference USA in charges drawn in both 2015-16 (18) and 2016-17 (33).  He has taken two charges in limited action this season, giving him 59 in his career.

A NEAR-RECORD
By outscoring Louisiana College 32-0 to start the game in the season opener, UTEP came within two points of tying an NCAA record.  On Nov. 29, 1998, Seton Hall led Kean 34-0 to set the standard.

HITTING THE CENTURY MARK
The Miners scored 100 points in a season opener for only the third time against Louisiana College.  UTEP scored 109 points versus Fort Lewis and UT-Permian Basin during the 1988-89 and 2003-04 seasons, respectively.  The Miners scored 100 points for the 31st time in school history.

THE 2017-18 MINERS
UTEP returns four starters and five letterwinners from last year’s squad that started 2-13 before winning 13 of its final 17 games and tying for third place in Conference USA (12-6 mark).  UTEP welcomes back five of its top six scorers from the 2016-17 season headlined by senior guard Omega Harris (17.0 ppg last season) and senior center Matt Willms (11.4 ppg).  The only starter lost is Dominic Artis, who last year became the first player in school history to lead the team in rebounds (207), assists (187) and steals (60).  Artis, a second team All-Conference USA player, collected 15.0 ppg.  The Miners have six scholarship newcomers including two players (Isiah Osborne and Trey Wade) who sat out last season.  Also new to the fold are freshmen Evan Gilyard, Kobe Magee and Tirus Smith and graduate transfer Keith Frazier.

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