(Courtesy: UTEP Athletics)
EL PASO, Texas - The UTEP men’s basketball team broke the school record for scoring by drilling NAIA member USAO, 123-72, at the Don Haskins Center Thursday evening.
The offensive outburst bests the prior standard of 121 (vs New Mexico Highlands, 12/30/00), which had stood for nearly 23 years.
The Miners (2-0) set the tone for the contest by racing out to a 19-0 lead, and the Drovers would never get closer than15 from that point on.
The differential was 22 at the half (52-30), and the only true drama over the remainder of the contest would be if the Orange and Blue could topple the program’s single-game scoring mark.
The record-setting sequence occurred in the waning seconds, with Sebastian Cole making one of the Miners’ 18 steals (tied fifth at UTEP) before setting up Otis Frazier III for a transition And-one lay-up to cap the scoring in the contest.
“USAO won a championship two years ago, they do a good job at their level,” UTEP head coach Joe Golding said. “No disrespect, but we’re trying to get ready for UCSB on Monday. I kept telling them don’t look at the scoreboard. Let’s worry about UTEP and continue to get better. We did that tonight.
“We were more disciplined on our end of the floor,” Golding said. “I like that we’re scoring off turnovers. We’re getting out and getting some easy baskets. It’s so darn hard to win in college basketball and to score at times. When you can you get easy baskets, it sure helps. We did that tonight.”
UTEP has now eclipsed 100+ points in back-to-back games for the first time since the 1968-69 season and the second occasion ever.
Its 243 points are the most in a two-contest span in program history. A huge second half (71 points) played a big role in the record-setting affair.
The 71 points rated as the second most over the final 20 minutes of a game in school history.
For the second straight game, it was a balanced and selfless offense that powered the way.
Seven different Miners hit double figures in scoring, led by 19 from Elijah Jones. Frazier III (18 points), Corey Camper Jr. (17 points), Derick Hamilton (career-high 14 points), Tae Hardy and Calvin Solomon (11 points each) and Cole (10) got after it as well.
The Orange and Blue dished out 26 assists on 40 made field goals, with David Terrell Jr. dropping a game-high six helpers.
UTEP handled the boards (41-31), thanks to Kevin Kalu (career-high 13 rebounds) leading the charge.
The Miners forced 24 turnovers that resulted in 33 points and were off and running all night long with a 47-15 advantage in fast-break points.
UTEP drilled 57.1 percent (40-70) from the floor, nailed 10-24 (41.7 percent) from 3-point range and took care of business at the charity stripe by going 33-44 (75.0 percent). Solomon was a perfect 7-7 on free throws while Frazier III went 7-10.
The Orange and Blue also had a huge advantage in bench scoring (69-38), in addition to a 12-point margin (48-36) for points in the paint.
The Miners were ready from the tip, bolting out to the aforementioned 19-0 lead less than six minutes into the contest.
UTEP demonstrated its balance in the stretch, with seven different players scoring during the dominant sequence.
Kalu set the tone from the get-go with an offensive rebound and put back to account for the first points in the contest.
After a pair of free throws by Zid Powell, Camper Jr. pulled up in transition to bury a trey and make it 7-0 (18:02, 1H).
Two more charity stripe tosses, this time by Solomon, were followed by a jumper from Jones and Hardy slamming home a fastbreak dunk after picking the pocket of Jayden Patcha.
After Terrell Jr. came up with a steal, he found Hardy for a highlight-reel alley oop.
Two free throws from Camper Jr., and a lay-up courtesy of Frazier III capped the game-changing run.
The visitors finally got on the board with a dunk off a loose ball with 14:12 to play in the frame, but the damage had been done.
The Miners eventually extended the advantage to 24 (33-9, 7:43 1H), and they would go into the locker room up by 22 (52-30).
The home side found another gear in the second stanza on the way to making history.
UTEP will play the third of four straight home games to start the year when it welcomes 2023 NCAA tournament team UCSB for its “915 Game” at 7 p.m. MT on Nov. 13.
The Miners aspire to sell out the Haskins Center.
The contest will be broadcast on 600 ESPN El Paso and nationally televised on CBS Sports Network. Tickets start as low at $9.15 and are available by visiting www.UTEPMiners.com/Tickets or by calling (915) 747-UTEP.