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Men’s team tops Cameron Aggies in exhibition opener 78-69

Despite a stagnant, sloppy start, the UTEP men’s basketball team was able to slither past the Cameron Aggies 78-69 in their opening exhibition game. 

Six players in total missed did not play in the game, along with head coach Tim Floyd who was not in attendance. Assistant coach Phil Johnson took the reigns for the game.

With the inexperienced players in action, mistakes were made on both ends of the ball.

“It was our first time out and a lot of new guys out there playing a lot of minutes,” Johnson said. “Not great, but the effort was good. That wasn’t an issue at all. I thought we fought and tried to run and tried to execute and tried to defend. Just a lot of breakdowns in how we guard, screen and roll. Obviously we didn’t rebound the ball versus a Division II team like we need to. We’re going to have to improve.”

It was a poor start offensively for the Miners, who shot 40 percent from the floor, while  making only one-of-eight 3-pointers in the first half. The offense could not get anything rolling against the Aggies. Lee Moore led the Miners with 15 points in the half, but he seemed to be the only spark for the team. At the end of the first half, Cameron led the Miners, 37-35, after a buzzer-beating jump shot to break the tie .

Coming out of the break, the Miners started with a 10-2 run to give them a 45-39 lead. Cameron continued to use the pick-and-roll play to their advantage, and responded to the Miners with 10 unanswered points. Then, guard play for the Miners aided the comeback, more specifically from Victor Mbachu and Trey Touchet. With eight minutes left in the game, the two guards made back-to-back jump shots, followed by a layup by Moore, which gave the Miners the go-ahead lead at 56-55.

Then, in the final nine minutes, Moore closed the game for the Miners. With nine-straight points late in the game, Moore was able to help extend the lead to as much as 11. Moore led the team in points and rebounds, with 28 and 11 to finish the game. Following Moore, Mbachu totaled with 14 points and Hooper Vint racked up eight.

“Overall, it was a rough game,” Mbachu said. “We could have played a lot better. But it was our first time out and we knew there would be mistakes. We’ll learn from it defensively. And we had a lot of turnovers. But we’re still a new team. We’re still getting used to each other.”

A contributing factor to the closely contested win was turnovers. The Miners finished the game with 19 total turnovers.

“I thought there were some really bad decisions,” Johnson said. “When you have 19 turnovers in a game, that’s not good. Our ultimate goal is to be single digits. We just got careless in transition, we got careless in trying to feed the post.”

Johnson also credits a major factor in the turnovers to the new shot clock, which was lowered from 35 seconds to 30 seconds this season.

“When you go from playing 35 seconds to 30, things speed up a lot,” Johnson said. “The possession goes by a lot quicker. You find yourself with nine seconds, eight seconds to go quicker. And it just seems like it gets on you. So you have to be a little more aggressive in everything you do. I think that aggressiveness, with this team having so many new guys, created some turnovers for us.”

Vint, a returning veteran on the younger squad, claimed that despite the quiet start, the resiliency the team showed made a big difference.

“I thought we started a little slow, but I thought we played hard,” Vint said. “And I liked how we fought at the end. Lee played great, obviously.

And Vic came in and did a good job. Our screen and roll defense wasn’t good. We have a different way of doing it and a lot of the new guys aren’t used to it yet. We’ll have to go back and work on it.”

Although the Miners dwelled on the absence of their inactive players, Johnson saw promise amongst the younger players.

“We have a lot of guys out that I hope will be playing for us at some point here pretty quick,” Johnson said. “But I thought it was good that we gave a lot of time to these other guys like Trey Touchet, Jake Flaggert, Brodricks Jones, Victor, Tevin (Caldwell) and Paul Thomas, who I think is going to be a real nice player as a freshman. I thought he rebounded the ball and tried to play.”

Coming into the game, the Miners were missing the talents of Dominic Artis, Earvin Morris, Josh McSwiggan, Omega Harris, Christian Romine and Terry Winn. Also, the Miners were without head coach Tim Floyd.

Morris, Winn, and Romine did not participate in game for reasons where Floyd said “individualism became a bigger part of who they were than our team”. McSwiggan was absent due to knee surgery, Harris is not academically eligible until next semester, and Dominic Artis is going through a recent eligibility issues.

Floyd was not in attendance for the game because of a tragedy in his family; his sister past away an hour before the game and he left to be with family.

Next, the Miners will open up play against East Central Oklahoma at the Don Haskins on Nov.7.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor
Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.   Adrian was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of Franklin high school. He entered college in the fall of 2015 in hopes to better his career in journalism.   Along with sports, Adrian enjoys writing music reviews, perspective columns and news stories on politics.   Although he is pursuing his degree in journalism, Adrian would like to go to law school and be an attorney while doing part-time work in journalism.  
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Men’s team tops Cameron Aggies in exhibition opener 78-69