UTEP loses two key players for at least a semester

The Texas-El Paso Miners men’s basketball team will be without two key players for at least the first semester of the season. Rising junior center Matt Willms will miss time with a flare-up of a stress reaction in his foot, the same injury that cost him six games last season, and rising sophomore guard Omega Harris will miss a semester due to academic ineligibility. Rob Dauster of NBC Sports’ College Basketball Talk reported the story.

Miners head coach Tim Floyd offered a brief statement on Willms.

“He’s a very, very talented young man,” Floyd said of Willms, who averaged 5.2 points and 4.3 boards as a sophomore. “He kind of deferred to Cedric Lang so that Cedric could start his senior year, but he started for us as a freshman.”

“We thought he would play in the NBA maybe one day.”

Harris, on the other hand, posted 6.7 points over 26.7 minutes per game and shot 38 percent from the field. His absence combined with the graduations of Cedric Lang, C.J. Cooper and Julian Washburn,plus Vince Hunter turning pro, means that UTEP is going to have to get creative in the scoring department. The team went 22-10 (13-5 C-USA) last season and made the NIT, but could face an uphill battle this season if they are to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports