El Paso, TX — For the second straight year, the UTEP men’s basketball team will open the season with an exhibition game versus Southeastern Oklahoma State. The Miners and the Storm will square off on Saturday (Nov. 2) at 7 p.m., following a women’s exhibition versus St. Mary’s (Texas) at 4:30 p.m.
Last year UTEP went to the line 38 times (making 26) in toppling the Storm 70-63. The Miners also scored 16 points off 20 turnovers and received 37 points from bench players, including 11 from Konner Tucker who broke his hand in the game.
Six UTEP players scored in double figures in the Orange and White Scrimmage last Saturday, and three players (John Bohannon, Cedrick Lang, Matt Willms) had double-doubles. Coach Tim Floyd seemed generally pleased after the scrimmage, and upon further review after watching the film.
“Obviously we have a long way to go,” he said. “We expected that. The bright spot might be that a couple of big guys rebounded. The problem is that they’re rebounding against us. The downside might be that the big guys were not blocking out on the other side.”
Floyd also lamented the fact that while his team combined to shoot 23 free throws, 21 of the attempts came from big men Bohannon, Lang, Willms, Vince Hunter and Hooper Vint.
“A downside is our perimeter players didn’t shoot enough free throws,” he said.
Floyd was impressed with the play of his freshmen, in particular Willms (21 points/13 rebounds) and Hunter, who scored 11 of his 15 points in the final 20 minutes.
“I thought some of our new guys handled themselves very well,” he said. “Matt was very encouraging. I thought Vince had a very good second half. Our guard play is something that we’re going to continue to monitor.”
The Miners were without McKenzie Moore, who has a sprained ankle, in the scrimmage and may be without his services again this weekend. He did, however, do some rehab work on Tuesday in practice.
“I went up for a rebound in practice and came down on somebody’s foot,” he said. “It’s feeling a little bit better. It’s feeling better each and every day. I’m just treating it two or three times a day and rehabbing it. I just want to make sure when I’m out there [on the court] that I can go hard and go 100 percent. That’s the goal, to be 100 percent hopefully sometime later this week.”
The Miners will likely experiment with various lineup combinations on Saturday in their final tune-up prior to the regular season opener versus Loyola (New Orleans) on Nov. 9. That makes Southeastern Oklahoma State’s personnel not quite as important.
“This early in the year, you’re more concerned about yourselves [than your opponent],” Floyd said.
UTEP Basketball season tickets, starting at $160, remain on sale by calling (915) 747-6150. Individual game tickets will go on sale Friday (915-747-5234), and all seats for Friday’s exhibition are $8 and $10 and include admission to both the men’s and women’s game.