UTEP posted a school-record 24 steals while Otis Frazier III poured in a career-high 23 points to pace five different Miners in double figures in a 99-59 victory against Division III foe Sul Ross State at the Don Haskins Center Tuesday evening.
Story via UTEP Athletics
The Miners (2-1) forced 32 turnovers by the Lobos (0-2), equaling the most by a UTEP opponent since Norfolk State was harassed into also making 32 on Dec. 28, 2009. It led to a 44-8 Miner margin for points off turnovers. UTEP also had a 28-3 advantage on fastbreak points and 51-25 differential on bench scoring.
UTEP connected on 59.1 percent from the floor and showed of its balanced approached offensively on the way to tallying a season-high 99 points. Kevin Kalu (career-high 13 points), Jamari Sibley (season-high 13 points), Ze’Rik Onyema (11 points) and Carlos Lemus (career-high 10 points) joined Frazier III in double figures for scoring while Tae Hardy added eight and Malik Zachery established career bests in both points (six) and assists (five). Calvin Solomon chipped in four points, four rebounds and five helpers.
Sul Ross State did shoot 45.8 from the floor but UTEP neutralized that forcing the aforementioned 32 turnovers in addition to winning the boards, 37-25. Onyema led the way for the second straight game with seven rebounds.
Six different Miners had at least three steals to help them surge past the prior school standard of 21 which had stood since 1994 (against Cardinal Stich on Dec. 20, 1994). Several of those steals were the result of UTEP players hitting the deck in pursuit of loose balls, even with the game well in hand.
“Five or six times we were diving for loose balls in the first half, and it probably happened another five or six times in the second half,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. “You have a tendency in games like this when the score is getting away to not make those plays, and I was really, really impressed with our guys with that. That’s an identity of our program, to be first on the floor.
“I thought our ball movement was really good tonight,” Golding said. “We had 21 assists and only 12 turnovers. We turned them over 32 times, that’s really good. It’s not going to happen every night, but it means we’re buying into that stuff. I have a lot of praise for Sul Ross State. They can really shoot the basketball, they spread the floor out and run a great motion (offense).”
The Lobos nailed nine 3-pointers and were led by 16 points from Julian Paredes.
Both sides knocked down a triple on their opening possession before the Miners ripped off seven straight points to lead by seven (10-3) three minutes into the contest. Hardy started it with a layup off a feed by Solomon. That was followed by a baby hook from Onyema and a corner trey courtesy of Frazier III.
It was a six-point affair (19-13) with 13:50 to play in the half, but the Miners put together a 10-0 surge over the next four minutes on the way to extending the advantage to 16 (29-13). Highlighting the sequence was Shamar Givance igniting a fastbreak opportunity by diving on the floor to come up with a loose ball. From the deck he sent a pass to Hardy, who raced down court and lobbed it for an alley-oop that was finished emphatically by Frazier III.
The Orange and Blue continued to control as the half wore on, leading by 19 (47-28) with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the opening frame. UTEP settled for a 17-point cushion (47-30) heading into the locker room, aided by shooting 51.4 percent (19-37) over the first 20 minutes.
The Lobos started quickly in the second half, using a 7-2 spurt over the first minute to cut the Miner lead to 12 (49-37). UTEP struck back with six straight points to push the advantage back to 18 (55-37) with 17:36 left in regulation. The lead remained 18 (61-43) after Givance found Frazier III with a no-look pass for the flush to prompt a timeout for the visitors with 13 minutes to play.
The stoppage didn’t help, with the Orange and Blue pushing the differential to 25 (68-43, 11:57 2H) as part of an 11-0 run. Punctuating the run were consecutive steals and baskets by Solomon and Givance, respectively.
The Miners extended their lead to 30 (80-50, 7:55 2H) before putting it on cruise control down the stretch for the 40-point victory.
UTEP will be idle for a week before playing host to the inaugural Jim Forbes Classic presented by Speaking Rock with games against Alcorn State (Nov. 22), CSUB (Nov. 23) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Nov. 25). The games will be broadcast on 600 ESPN El Paso and streamed on CUSA.tv. Tickets are available by visiting www.UTEPMiners.com/Tickets or by calling (915) 747-UTEP.