It was not your typical pre-season exhibition game ... you know, one of those with running and gunning and dunks and giggles and grins.
No, for UTEP purposes, Saturday night's pretend game with Southeast Oklahoma was dotted with intensity and some full-court pressure by the visitors. To their credit, the Storm played as if their hair were on fire, played with great intensity and that will serve UTEP far better than one of those fun-and-game thrill shows.
For the record -- though it does not count -- the Miners won this exhibition 70-63. For the record, UTEP had some good moments, some not-so-good moments. But, overall, it was helpful and productive.
Except for one thing.
Graduate student Konner Tucker, after knocking down 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and all four free throws, went diving for a loose ball. Verdict? He has a fractured right hand. More will be known when he sees a hand specialist next week. The silky-smooth shooting senior could miss between six and eight weeks.
"We'll know more (today)," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. "He's been our best shooter throughout camp."
Overall, Floyd said, "We still have a lot of room for growth. We kept our offense vanilla. We didn't run a lot of things, but when we did it wasn't crisp. But there were some positives -- Malcolm Moore's effort, for the most part we weren't a big turnover team (only 11) and we got back on defense for the most part."
The Storm threw a variety of defenses at the Miners -- switching from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone and frequently extending the pressure with a 1-3-1 trap, then dropping back into that 2-3 zone and, in the final minutes, they gave the Miners a heavy dose of full-court man pressure.
Tucker and Jacques Streeter led the Miners with 11 points each. John Bohannon had 10 points, eight rebounds, and Moore had four points, eight rebounds.
Julian Washburn had just eight points with three assists and three steals and no turnovers. The gifted Miner sophomore was just 3-of-14 from the field, but if he gets those same looks on any other night -- which he probably will -- he will have 20-plus points.
"A lot of the shots Julian missed, were shots I want him to take," Floyd said.
Overall, though, the players got some work against a team that played hard, got out under the bright lights of a game, in front of a crowd.
"Pretty good overall effort," Bohannon said of the team. "Lot of things to improve. We can never stop getting better on defense. We didn't run that many things offensively, but what we did run, we need to fine-tune."
Freshman Chris Washburn (who had six points, three rebounds, two assists in 18 minutes) grinned and said, "It was a lot faster than I expected, but I think I adjusted. We started off too slow. We need to work on that and, even though we came out even (41-41), we need to rebound better."
Streeter, who also dished out four assists, said, "It was a good start. We could have played a lot better. But we are growing and this was the first step. I think we came out pretty sound defensively. They gave us a lot of looks defensively, switching up between man and zone, and that gave us some good work. We were sloppy at times. But our big men did a great job. Malcolm Moore and Bo (Bohannon) did a good job in there."
The Miners have been working since Oct. 12, and the bulk of that work has been on the defensive end of the floor. Floyd used 11 players and in no particular order.
"We didn't have a starting lineup per se," said Floyd, who opened the game with Moore, Bohannon, Julian Washburn, Jalen Ragland and sophomore C.J. Cooper at the point.
The Miners will go back to work, getting ready for a strong Oral Roberts team next Friday night ... a game that will supply an even faster pace, even more intensity and, of course, a game that will truly count in the won-lost ledger.
"That will be a great test for us," Floyd said.
And, on that Friday night, this marathon that is a college basketball season will begin.
Bill Knight may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6171. Follow him on Twitter @BillKnightept.