El Paso, TX — Matt Willms scored 20 points to lead four UTEP players in double figures as the Miners pasted Loyola (New Orleans), 84-49, in their 2013-14 season opener on Saturday at the Don Haskins Center.
John Bohannon added 16 points, McKenzie Moore 15 and Julian Washburn 12 as UTEP scored 80+ points in an opener for the first time in four years.
Willms had a dominant second half with 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 from the line. The Miners outrebounded the Wolf Pack 23-13 in the final 20 minutes after being outboarded 21-20 in the first half.
“Our length was a big factor in the game,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “Our quickness, our speed was a factor in the game. That being said, it was a well coached team that we played against. Their approach to playing our big guys, doubling in the post every time we caught it, prevented us from getting to the foul line. We didn’t get there off the drive, so that’s a concern for us.”
Leading 15-12 with under six minutes remaining in the first half, UTEP took control with a 14-2 spurt, capped by a Moore layup, to surge to a 29-14 advantage. Moore scored eight points during the run.
The Miners were up 35-21 at the midway point, then put the pedal to the middle by outscoring the Wolf Pack 10-1 in the first three and a half minutes of the second stanza. Loyola dropped the lead under 20 just once in the final 17:40.
Nine Miners were on the floor for 12 minutes or more, and all of them scored.
“We got a lot of minutes for a lot of guys, which I thought was important,” Floyd said. “We treated it as an exhibition game to some extent.
“I thought [Justin] Crosgile played pretty well, had some poise, got us into a defense out front better than he had. I thought he was good in transition and conversion. I thought John Bohannon played very well. He is deferring, he’s not trying to do too much, he’s taking great shots and he’s playing hard on the defensive end. I thought McKenzie played well. He gave us a lot of minutes at the point and off the ball. He is a very versatile player and rebounds the ball well. He plays very hard. I thought the five assists and two turnovers [was] his key stat tonight. We can’t get him out of control and turning it over. He seems to be improved in that area.”
UTEP outscored Loyola 48-24 in the paint and 27-10 off the bench, with Moore leading the way.
The Miners also shot 59.4 percent in the second half, lifting their game mark to 52.2 percent. Loyola outshot UTEP at the free throw line, going 21-for-28 to the Miners’ 7-for-12. Twenty-six of the Wolf Pack’s 28 foul shots came in the second half after UTEP did a nice job of adapting to the new hand-checking rules in the opening 20 minutes.
The Miners will return to action on Friday (Nov. 15) at I-10 rival NM State with a 7 p.m. tipoff.