Game #9-064: Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at Texas-El Paso MinersNovember 9, 2012 9:00 pm
Special Events Center
Since the NMSU Aggies did not start the season on the opening Friday of the season, I found myself making the relatively short trip to the nearest game. I had not been in the Don Haskins Center at UTEP since before it got that name; it was previously known by the colorless name "Special Events Center." Built not long after UTEP's storybook championship season (youngsters: rent Glory Road
for a pretty decent recounting), the UT Regents nixed the initial plans for the arena because it would have been larger than the Drum (also officially the "Special Events Center") in Austin. (There's a burnt orange line in the UT system.)
UTEP's first game of the season was against a team that had never played the Miners: the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles. Both head coaches had Hall of Fame caliber mentors: UTEP leader Tim Floyd was an eight year assistant to Don Haskins at UTEP before he began his own widely-traveled head coaching career, which took him to Idaho, New Orleans, Iowa State, the Chicago Bulls, the New Orleans Hornets, and Southern Cal before his return to El Paso before last season. Oral Roberts head man Scott Sutton is entering his twelfth season at the helm in Tulsa, after four years assisting Bill Self with the Golden Eagles. Of course, Sutton comes from a coaching family: father Eddie led programs to the NCAA tournament from Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma State; brother Sean has been an assistant at Mississippi and Oklahoma State, before succeeding his father as head coach at the latter. Both coaches have success on their own: Floyd leading his college teams to 368 wins, Sutton's ORU teams winning 204.
I sat fairly high in the arena among a group of long-time UTEP season ticket holders. I wondered aloud to the woman next to me about the availability of such a great seat, right over center court over an entrance with only one seat in front of me. She laughed and said she used to sit there, but moved because of the tall guy in the empty seat in front of me. He arrived, as if on cue, and she, continuing to laugh, moved another seat to the left allowing me to see the game. He wasn't very friendly, having a great focus on the game. He was, however a fixture in this section. Every time the officials awarded the ball to UTEP for a violation or held ball, he shouted, "Whose ball is it?" to which the entire area responded, "Miner Ball!"
The first time he did it, I nearly laughed out loud. This question and response has a long history at UTEP; long-time PA announcer Paul Strelzin used to do this on the public address system, one of the many home court advantages the "Strelz" brought to the Miners. Another connection into Miner history: in the daytime, Strelzin was the principal at Bowie High School; when I was in high school, Strelzin hired a former Miner to be a very successful basketball coach. Nolan Richardson went on to win a JC national championship at Western Texas JC, then to lead Tulsa and later Arkansas to great success.
When the game began, the student section was pretty full, but the rest of the arena was pretty sparse. I guessed that between 5,000 and 6,000 were there at the start. (The box score listed attendance at 8,564; people did drift in over the first half.) UTEP's junior center John Bohannon easily won the opening tip, but ORU scored the game's first five points. The teams traded baskets much of the rest of the half, ORU leading 26-22 with three minutes to play. UTEP went on a 7-0 run to lead by three, and the teams each got a bucket before the half ended with the Miners leading 31-28. The Golden Eagles shot the ball well (50%) in the first half, led by senior guard Warren Niles's fifteen points, including four #superhoops, and junior guard Shawn Glover's seven. The Miners were led in scoring with seven points each by Bohannon and the only Miner senior who saw significant action, guard Jacques Streeter, followed by sophomore guard Jalen Ragland's six.
Halftime featured a birthday celebration for 100-year-old Miner fan Kathleen Moore, who has been attending UTEP games since her husband played Miner football in the 1930's.
Oral Roberts retook the lead with an 8-4 run to start the second half, then the Miners started to assert their inside presence. Bohannon and freshman Chris Washburn scored five buckets for the Miners in a 10-2 run sparked by a smothering man-to-man UTEP defense. Sutton took a quick timeout trailing 45‑38, but it did nothing to stem the tide. Over the next eight minutes the run continued, with the Miners moving out to a 59-41 lead; at one point Washburn made two consecutive #omgdunx
followed by a layup. The Golden Eagles attempted a full-court press to try to recover momentum and "pressed" on offense as well, committing two quick offensive fouls. With four minutes to play, the Miners led by twenty-one, and Bohannon went to the bench, bringing one of the great basketball player names in the country onto the court, freshman center Hooper Vint. Chris Washburn fouled out with three minutes to play, and the Miners spread out their offense to coast to a 69-49 win.
For the game, Golden Eagle Niles led all scorers with nineteen, followed by Glover's twelve. Four Miners ended with double figure scoring. Bohannon chipped in seventeen, followed by Chris Washburn's fourteen; older brother and sophomore forward Julian Washburn scored eleven, and Ragland added ten.
UTEP will play four games over the next couple of weeks away from El Paso, visiting Arizona and playing in a three-game tournament in Orlando before returning home to face New Mexico State on November 28. Oral Roberts goes home to face St. Gregory's continuing to prepare for their first season in the Southland Conference, where they are favored to win the championship.
I filled up the car on the way home, and saw something that made me sad that Conference USA's average budget has UTEP above the Red Line: horchata, one of the Mid-Majority's favorite beverages, as one of the options from the soda dispenser. A city with this should really belong among the mids...
at TEXAS-EL PASO 69, ORAL ROBERTS 49
ORAL ROBERTS 0-1 (0-0) -- W. Niles 7-15 1-3 19; D. Bell-Holter 2-8 4-6 8; S. Glover 5-8 1-1 12; S. Roundtree 2-9 2-2 6; M. Manghum 0-2 0-0 0; K. Billbury 2-3 0-0 4; D. Jackson 0-0 0-0 0; J. Kaufman 0-3 0-0 0; C. Byford 0-0 0-0 0; J. Lliteras 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-48 8-12 49.
TEXAS-EL PASO 1-0 (0-0) -- J. Streeter 2-10 2-2 7; J. Ragland 5-9 0-0 10; J. Washburn 4-14 3-3 11; C. Lang 1-4 0-0 2; J. Bohannon 8-14 1-2 17; C. Washburn 6-7 2-6 14; C. Cooper 2-4 0-0 4; T. Howard 1-1 0-1 2; M. Moore 1-1 0-0 2; H. Vint 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-64 8-14 69.
Three-point goals: ORU 5-13 (S. Glover 1-2; W. Niles 4-8; D. Bell-Holter 0-1; M. Manghum 0-2), UTEP 1-7 (J. Streeter 1-4; C. Cooper 0-1; J. Washburn 0-2); Rebounds: ORU 31 (D. Bell-Holter 12), UTEP 25 (C. Lang 6); Assists: ORU 11 (W. Niles 4), UTEP 18 (J. Streeter 7); Total Fouls -- ORU 16, UTEP 15; Fouled Out: ORU-None; UTEP-C. Washburn.