Video courtesy Duke Keith, 600 ESPN El Paso
EL PASO, Texas - Midway through he second half of Friday night's game, sophomore Julian Washburn had some choice words for Oral Roberts player Steven Roundtree. The exchange was heated, loud and looked as if it might lead to something much worse than just yelling at each other.
The jawing reached a level of discourse Julian's brother, Chris, had to come over and help separate Julian from the group.
When the two walked away, it looked as if there had been a fire lit in the depths of their soul. The two exchanged looks, nodded and the Washburn brothers proceeded to lead UTEP on a 14-1 run which included two dunks, one being a Julian-to-Chris alley-oop.
By the end of it all, fans were loud and boisterous and the Miner defense was suffocating. With all the momentum on their side, UTEP finished the game with a 20-point win, 69-49, over Oral Roberts.
"It was just basketball," Julian said of the trash talking. "I played with (Roundtree) in high school and it was nothing but sometimes you have to do that to get your team hyped up. After that, we went on that run."
In the first half, the Miners did not look as if they were as coordinated as they hoped, turning over the ball four times with limited second-chance opportunities because of ORU's 11 defensive rebounds. Much of the first half consisted of a back-and-forth contest with ORU's Warren Niles scoring 15 points, 12 coming from behind the arc.
UTEP's halftime adjustments on defense in addition to the 14-point run proved effective as the Miners limited Niles' touches and allowed only four more points from the Golden Eagle.
"We just tried to take away his catches in the second half," head coach Tim Floyd said. "In the first half, we tried to utilize that defender to help on the backside of a very inside oriented team that wanted to throw the ball inside and he made us pay. We just extended and took away catches. We limited the number of times he touched it in the second half."
Much of the Miner's play in the second half came as a direct result of a suffocating defense which flustered Oral Roberts and led to fast break points for UTEP.
"We were just running the offense and trying to execute on defense and of course get the ball up the court," Chris said. "Our execution on defense was good and we ran the plays well, just like we practiced it and we got some good baskets off of them."
"We got a lot of great interior post defense from Cerick Lang, John Bohannon and the freshman Chris Washburn was outstanding for his first performance," Floyd said. "I thought (Chris) was great."
Chris was one of four players who finished with double-digit scoring, 14, while Bohannon scored 17, Julian 11 and Jalen Ragland had 10.
Shawn Glover finished with 12 points for the Golden Eagles.
After the game, Floyd also gave credit to the fans, who at one point sounded louder than any game in the Don Haskins the previous season.
"I think the crowd was inspired by a team that played hard -- really competed and defended -- and created a lot from their defense," Floyd said. "There were a lot of exciting plays based on ball movement and the extra pass."
UTEP will practice over the next days before going on the road for the first time this season as they face a challenging opponent next week in no. 12/11 (AP/USA Today) Arizona. Despite the positives from Friday's game, Floyd knows there is a challenging schedule ahead.
"Nobody in the United States is going to play a tougher stretch that we are going to play in the next two weeks, maybe three weeks, maybe the month," Floyd said. "Nobody has a tougher November, tougher December than the ole Miners."
Chris Avila can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter at @chrisavila_01. Make sure to follow Miner Illustrated on Twitter at @minermaniac for more up-to-date news and information about UTEP.
Postgame video courtesy of Duke Keith, 600 ESPN El Paso.