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UTEP 49, SMU 45

EL PASO, Texas -- Derrick Caracter had 18 points, including four straight in the closing minutes, as UTEP held off SMU 49-45 Wednesday in the Conference USA opener for both schools.

After SMU (5-8) tied the game at 41 on a basket by Derek Williams, Caracter hit two free throws and then scored on a dunk to put UTEP (10-3) on top for good.

Randy Culpepper added 14 points for the Miners, including a pair of free throws with 49 seconds left and a layup with 6 seconds remaining after the Mustangs had pulled within 47-45 on a 3-pointer by Williams.

Williams had 14 points to lead SMU.

Neither team shot well. UTEP made only 3 of 18 3-pointers and shot 42.9 percent (18 for 42) from the field. SMU was 3 for 15 from long range, 4 for 8 from the free-throw line and hit just 42.2 percent from the field (19 for 45).