AUSTIN, Texas (KTSM) – They won’t like the loss on their schedule, but there were plenty of positive takeaways for UTEP on Monday night in Austin.

No. 12 Texas needed a late run to pull away for a 72-57 win over the Miners to open the 2022-23 season in the first-ever game at the new $375 million Moody Center.

UTEP’s Tae Hardy scored the first basket in the arena’s history, but from there points were hard to come by for most of the first half for the Miners, thanks in large part to 14 turnovers in the first half. Texas took advantage of UTEP’s sloppiness and led 33-20 at the break.

From there, though, the Miners looked a lot better. UTEP got as close as eight points multiple times in the second half and had chances to the cut the deficit to six on three separate occasions but were unable to do so. Regardless, they took better care of the basketball in the second half and head coach Joe Golding was happy with their resolve.

“That’s a team (Texas) that is going to be really, really good in March,” Golding said. “We handled some adversity in a hostile environment. I’m proud of our team and how we fought. I like our team with (showing) the physicality and the toughness. It’s tough against Texas, but we outrebounded them.”

After making just nine shots in the first half, UTEP was able to settle down offensively after halftime and played a lot better.

“I thought we did a good job of driving to the basket and cutting to the basket, we just couldn’t finish at times,” Golding said. “I like our physicality and toughness. We had five turnovers in the second half, that’s a positive for us moving forward. We faced adversity and had to play guys a lot of minutes due to foul trouble. We didn’t break, it was an eight-point game with seven minutes to go. It just didn’t go our way.”

The Miners utilized a balanced approach offensively, with six different players tallying at least five points. Ze’Rik Onyema (career-high 10 points) led the way while Tae Hardy (nine points), Otis Frazier III (nine points), Shamar Givance (eight points), Jamari Sibley (seven points) and Calvin Solomon (seven points) also getting after it.

As for Texas, Golding said the Longhorns had the make-up of a team that could make a run in March. For his part, Texas head coach Chris Beard – Golding’s best friend – thinks the Miners might have what it takes to make the NCAA Tournament.

“That’s an NCAA Tournament-hopeful type team, they could play into March,” Beard said.

Texas was led by Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter, who scored a game-high 18 points. Additionally, former New Mexico state star Jabari Rice had 14 points off the bench in his Texas debut.

Rice tormented UTEP throughout his four-year career with the Aggies and he hit the dagger three late in the second half to put Texas up 20.

“It brings back memories from my old school but I’m happy I’m here now. I love the city of Austin and the fans and I hope we can do that every game,” Rice said.

Junior college transfer forward Jon dos Anjos went down with a right knee injury for UTEP in the first minute of the game. Golding said postgame he’d get an MRI back in El Paso, but he had a large knee brace and crutches for the rest of the game.

The Miners are looking to build on their strong second half when they return to action Saturday at the Don Haskins Center in the Battle of I-10 vs. rival New Mexico State.