Guard play, guard play, guard play. That’ll win you championships in college basketball. In the past two games Keith Frazier and Omega Harris have stepped it up a notch. They’ve combined for 41.5 PPG while shooting 56% from the field and are 18/18 from the free throw line. Miners will need them to continue to play at a high level.

Last Week:

UTEP beat Washington St. for the third time in their last four meetings, 76-69. Keith Frazier and Omega Harris combined for 39 points and the Miners have won consecutive games for the first time this season. Matt Wilms made his return to the lineup, playing 27 minutes and scoring 8 points with 7 rebounds.

The Good:

•Charity Stripe. UTEP has shot over 22 free throws in three straight games
•Freshman PG’s stepping up. After Kobe Magee scored 16 points in the previous game versus New Mexico, Evan Gilyard came off the bench and scored 10 points in 18 minutes of action with 0 turnovers.
•Free Throws. Miners shot 21/22 from the free throw line (95.5%)
•The Miners only committed 5 turnovers vs Washington St. none were committed by the guards though, Wilms had 4 and Thomas had 1 turnover. It was tied for the fewest since the 2010-11 season. 
•Matt Wilms. Wilms returned from an injury that sidelined him for several weeks.

The Bad:

•Three point shooting. The Miners shot 7/28 vs Washington St. and are a combined 20/75 (26.6%) in their last three games.
•Trey Wade. Wade looks to be completely out of the rotation now. After playing 16 minutes in Phil Johnson’s first game as head coach, Wade has not played in the past two games.

Weekly Facts:

•The Miners have only had 13 shots blocked by opponents, which is the 3rd fewest in the nation.

•The 95.5% the Miners shot from the free throw line was the 2nd best percentage in a game in UTEP history (min. 20 attempts).

•Miners have 31 steals on the season which ranks 343 out of 351 schools.

•Miners have 103 assists this year which ranks 321 out of 351.

The Week Ahead:

12/19 vs Incarnate Word (4-3)

It’ll have been 9 days between games when the Miner take the floor on Monday night. Incarnate Word comes into the Don with their 4 wins coming versus non D1 opponents. The Cardinals average 81.7 PPG which ranks them 61st in the country. They have four players scoring in double digits, 6’6” Simi Socks leads the team with 14 PPG and 6’7” Charles Brown adds 12.4 PPG.

The Miners should have no issues on Monday night extending their win streak to three games. With Matt Wilms back they should also win their first rebounding battle of the season.

Final Thoughts:

Not much to say about an off week but I think the perfect storm him the Miners recently.

The first domino was Tim Floyd announcing his retirement. Then playing some “not very good this year” teams in New Mexico and Washington St set them up perfectly for this week off as Wilms returns to the lineup. Now the Miners face some less than stellar teams to finish up non-conference in Incarnate Word, Howard and UNC Wilmington/North Dakota State.

The Miners could possibly be riding a 5 game winning streak to start conference play and back to .500 (6-6).

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