Freshman Chris Washburn scored 13 of his 14 points in the second half, including 11 during a 26-5 run as UTEP blew out Oral Roberts in its 2012-13 season opener, 69-49, on Friday night at the Don Haskins Center.
The spurt, over a span of nine minutes, transformed a 38-37 deficit into a 63-43 lead. Washburn had three of his team-leading four dunks during the run.
UTEP (1-0) hit 51.4 percent of its shots in a dominating final 20 minutes while holding Oral Roberts (0-1) to 26.9 percent from the floor. The Miners also committed just three of their seven turnovers after the break. Oral Roberts turned the ball over 20 times, 10 times in each half.
The Miners had a 22-6 advantage in points off turnovers, 40-16 for points in the paint, 18-8 in fast break points and 22-0 in bench scoring.
The crowd of 8,564 was electric on "80's Night." UTEP players, cheerleaders and Golddiggers wore throwback attire, the Miner Maniacs returned to the student section, the "Burrito Man" made his first appearance in several years and the students started the "Amen" chant, a staple of '80s UTEP crowds, with the game decided in the final minutes.
"The crowd was really alive, really great," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. "I saw a bunch of people taking advantage of those $8 tickets up at the top, and that was beautiful to start getting that energy back in this building. In fact, I thought it was as much energy as we've had here since I've been back. I think the crowd was inspired by a team that played hard and really competed and defended, and created a lot of offense off their defense. There were a lot of exciting plays based on ball movement and the extra pass."
John Bohannon led the Miners with 17 points. Chris Washburn added 14, Julian Washburn 11 and Jalen Ragland 10. The Miners also received six rebounds from Cedrick Lang, and seven assists from Jacques Streeter.
"Jacques was 2-for-10 [from the field], but I thought he played well," Floyd said. "He initiated our defense out front better than he ever did a year ago. He turned and worked those little point guards and got us into something. We got a lot of great interior post defense out of Cedrick and John, and the freshman Chris Washburn was outstanding. We had seven turnovers in an opener, and that's really, really encouraging. It means we're getting shots on the board and we're giving ourselves a chance to score."
It was a solid win over an Oral Roberts team that was 27-7 a year ago and is favored to win the Southland Conference this season. Warren Niles led the Golden Eagles with 19 points, but only four in the second half, when he was limited to four shots.
"He's a good player. We just tried to take away his catches in the second half. We didn't help from him," Floyd said. "In the first half, we tried to utilize that defender to help on the back side of a very inside-oriented team, and he made us pay. We just extended and took away catches. We just limited the number of times he touched it in the second half with space."
The Miners will continue a grueling early-season stretch with a nationally televised game (Fox Sports Network) on Thursday at Arizona (8 pm MT). UTEP will then join Oklahoma, Clemson, Gonzaga, Davidson, Marist, Vanderbilt and West Virginia in the Old Spice Classic Nov. 22-25 in Orlando.
"We understand that we've got to get better," Floyd said. "We've got a schedule coming up that's going to show us how to improve. Nobody in the United States is going to play a tougher stretch than we're getting ready to play for the next two weeks, maybe three weeks, maybe a month. So we just have to continue to play inspired and move the ball and take care of it. But a lot of good things happened out there tonight."