Sandwiched in between a football bye week, Miner fans were treated to an exhibition opener to the new-look UTEP men's basketball team on Saturday night.

For Texas Tech, losing 70-60 in a game that doesn't count might not mean much. Head coach Chris Beard can regroup with his troops and be primed and ready for the regular season in no time.

But for the Miners, winning by 10 points against the 2019 National Championship finalist meant everything.

The game, which sat 4,604 spirited fans, was played all for charity to support the victims of the August 3rd shooting in El Paso.

And the fresh-looking men's squad came out to give fans a lot to be excited about.

In the first half, the Miners went toe-to-toe with the Red Raiders and proved that they belonged. UTEP went with a mix of their Divison I transfers and returning sophomores early on, rotating 10 players throughout the night.

Texas Tech led 30-25 at the end of the first half, capitalizing on 13 UTEP turnovers. The Miners led in the rebounding margin at the break (24-15) and stuck with Texas Tech.

Out of halftime, the Miners looked a bit sloppy, turning the ball over five times in the first six minutes. They struggled scoring points and Texas Tech led as much as eight points in the second half (41-33).

But then, the Miners turned the corner with an elite lineup on the floor: Eric Vila, Bryson Williams, Souley Boum, Jordan Lathon and Daryl Edwards. It was the LSU graduate transfer Edwards that caught fire in the middle of the second half, hitting 3-pointers from everywhere. Williams balanced it out by hitting some clutch jumpers.

Down the stretch though, it was Lathon who helped the Miners close out the game, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers and playing solid defense down the stretch.

Edwards led the way with 24 points (6-of-8 3-point) and four rebounds, while Wiliams had 19 points and nine rebounds, followed by Lathon's 16 points and eight boards. Boum played some stellar defense, shutting down Red Raiders star guard Davide Moretti (eight points), including three steals and four assists.

Kyler Edwards (13) and Jahmi'us Ramsey (12) were the scoring leaders for the Red Raiders, who fell behind late in the game and couldn't regroup in time to pull off a comeback.

“It’s a tragic situation that occurred in our community,” UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We have one of the best communities in country in terms of people, and we respect one another and treat one another. I haven’t been in a nicer community. When something like that happens, great cities rally so strong together and we look out for one another. Tonight was just a small token we can try to give back to the victims that suffered losses in that tragic situation. Hopefully we gave some relief back to them. It will take years for our community to really get over of what occurred. We can just be a small part of that in terms of doing anything to give back. Even for one night to get their minds off of it. We’ll try to do that, not only tonight, but the rest of this year.

UTEP will have one final closed scrimmage against Grand Canyon University next Saturday, but it will be closed off to the public. They will officially tip-off their season on Nov. 5 against New Mexico Highlands, followed by the highly anticipated Battle of I-10 home matchup against New Mexico State on Nov. 12.

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