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Late-night hoops rewind: UNT 63, UTEP 62

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Brett Vito, Staff Writer

Final: UNT 63, UTEP 62

Where UNT stands: The Mean Green improved to 8-6 on the season and jumped out to a 1-0 start in Conference USA play. UNT has won four of its last five games.

Now what?:  UNT will conclude its two-game road trip with a game at Texas-San Antonio on Saturday. 

Star of the day: Roosevelt Smart scored a game-high 29 points and scored UNT's last seven points of the game. None of those points were bigger than a 3 he hit with 1:59 remaining. Keith Frazier hit a 3 for UTEP to tie the game at 56-56 with 2:25 left. Smart answered with a 3 on UNT's next possession. The Mean Green never trailed again.

Say what?

"I am proud of our team. We didn't get many rebounds in the first half and they took three charges. I thought they were the more physical team. In the second half we really responded."

-- Grant McCasland, UNT coach on the Mean Green's come-from-behind win over UTEP.

Our take: UNT picked up a huge win in its Conference USA opener at UTEP, a place the Mean Green had not won in years.

UNT matched its win total of eight from all of last season, a disastrous 8-22 campaign that led the school to fire former coach Tony Benford.

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the game for UNT was that it made the key plays it needed to down the stretch to pull out the win. 

UNT got the ball to Smart, who is quickly making a case that he is among the best players in C-USA. The sophomore came through time and again.

One of the interesting aspects of the game coming in was UNT taking on a UTEP team that featured Keith Frazier. The highly regarded guard spent last season at UNT, but played just four games and landed at UTEP as a graduate transfer.

Frazier had been one of the Miners best players, but came off the bench against UNT. He finished with 13 points and hit some key shots late, but couldn't lift the Miners past the Mean Green.