Two games. Two rivalries. Two completely different UTEP teams. It was a case of Jekyll and Hyde this past week for the Miners as they went 1-1. Hopefully the latter of the games is something we will be seeing more of as the season continues.
The Miners looked horrible against NMSU. Nothing went right and the Aggies continued their recent dominance of the Miners, 80-60. The offense struggled only scoring 23 points in the first half and no one scoring in double figures.
UTEP played their best game of the year in an 88-76 victory over New Mexico. The Miners were able to break their pressure multiple times and get some easy scores. UTEP only turned the ball over 13 times against a team that forces 21 turnovers a game. Omega had a career high of 28 points while shooting 9/11 from the field, 4/4 from three, and 6/6 from the free throw line.
The offense was the best it has been this year against D1 teams with 5 players scoring in double digits. Every time it seemed that the Lobos were going to cut the lead under 5 UTEP would respond and extend the lead back to double digits.
•Shooting %. Miners shot 53.7% vs UNM which was their highest vs D1 teams this year
•Free Throws. UTEP attempted 25+ free throws in both games last week. They had not shot more than 25 before that
•Omega. Harris had a career day (28 points) on Saturday. Miner fans were starting to question where the old Omega was but he finally broke out in his best game as a Miner
•Kobe. The freshman point guard broke out for 16 points in 30 minutes.
•Osborne. He had 8 rebounds on Saturday and will have to continue to help on the glass. He has been one of the most active players on the court and only had 1 turnover in 68 minutes played last week.
•Winning. Broke the 6 game losing streak and 14 straight losses to D1 teams
•Assists. Although the team did have a much better offensive game vs UNM, the Miners are still only averaging 11 assists per game. That number has to get higher as we get closer to CUSA play.
•Rebounding. Miners are -36 on the glass this season and have been outrebounded in the past six games
•Playing time. Don’t get why Trey Wade did not play.
•NMSU. They continue to dominate the series recently winning 7 straight games.
The Week Ahead:
Saturday (12/9) vs Washington St:
It has been a weird year for the Cougars already. They were picked to finish last in the PAC-12 this year but opened the year with a 6-0 record that included wins versus a ranked St. Mary’s squad and San Diego State. They then lost as home last week to a UC-Davis team. They have made 12 three pointers in all but one game this year. They are 4th in the nation in 3pt attempts per game (32), 2nd in 3pt made per game (12.9), and 31st in 3pt% (40.7%). Miners have had trouble guarding the three point line and so I’m sure that will be a focal point of the defensive game-plan. The Cougars have two guys hovering around 20PPG, Robert Franks (20.4) and Malachi Flynn (17.9). Washington State plays at Idaho today before coming to El Paso on Saturday.
After Saturdays game the Miners will go 10 days before their next game 12/19 vs Incarnate Word. Hopefully that time off will be enough time for Matt Wilms to return from injury before conference play starts.
•Omega is currently ranked 25th on the all-time scoring list and only needs 3 points to reach 24th
•Since the Matt Wilms injury , the freshman class has accounted for 42.2% of the scoring
•Omega is the only player with a positive assist (19) -to-turnover (14) ratio
•Osborne only has 8 turnovers in 190 minutes played this season
•UTEP ranks 320 out of 351 schools in assists per game (11.3)
•Miners also rank 313 out of 351 schools in assist to turnover ratio (0.76) only Rice (0.72) rank lower in CUSA
That’s probably the best way I could put the performance that UTEP put on this past Saturday against New Mexico. Although the Lobos may not be that good this year, it was nice to get a win especially over that long-time rival. I did not expect to see any big changes for the Miners with Phil Johnson but it was good to see 88 points put on the board. I think that’s the type of offensive display most Miner fans expected with this lineup.
Hopefully Omega and Frazier and continue to lead the way with the help of different freshman every game. This is the perfect time for UTEP to get on a little winning streak before conference play and position themselves for a strong run in March.