The Dig: C-USA Basketball Teams Eat Their Own Edition

In The Dig:  A few short weeks ago, the UCF Knights looked like a lock for a top 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  After three straight C-USA losses, including one last night to ECU at home, the Knights are squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble.  Conversely, last week it looked like Memphis was done for.  The Tigers lost to lowly SMU, then lost Wesley WItherspoon to an indefinite suspension.  Last night, Memphis went to Hattiesburg and won a heartbreaking battle against Southern Miss.  Oh, and don't forget about the squad in Huntington.  Marshall stunned Bobby Huggins' West Virginia squad last night.  A Win Against WVU?  Marshall is an unknown no longer.

Conference USA eats their own.  Just another night in the good, ole' C-USA.

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A Wild  C-USA Wednesday Get's Top Billing

What a night in the C-USA.   UTEP was lucky to have the night off as the Miners could sit back and watch the league's best battle against each other.  

The Memphis Tigers 76, Southern Miss 75

Doesn't Get More Wild than This:   Memphis guard Charles Carmouche drained a three pointer with under 2 seconds to play to crush the hopes of Southern Miss (who was playing in front of their largest home crowd of the season).

"We will not shoot a 2-pointer. We are going for the win," Pastner told his players during a timeout with 6.7 seconds left and Southern Miss senior guard R.L. Horton headed to the free-throw line with the Golden Eagles leading by a point.

East Carolina 74- UCF 62

The Favorite No More:  Most commentators assumed UCF would win their next two games, both at home, against East Carolina and Rice, following the Knights stunning 2 game losing streak.  Now, it's time to hit the panic button.  UCF got flat out beat last night by ECU.

Jontae Sherrod scored 21 points and had nine rebounds as East Carolina handed Central Florida its third straight defeat, beating the Knights 74-62 on Wednesday night

The UAB Blazers 67- SMU Mustangs 52

UAB Putting it Together:  There is now a four way tie for first place in the C-USA between UTEP, UAB, Houston, and Memphis.  All those teams are 3-1 in league play.  UAB took care of business against Papa Dia & Co. last night.

Jamarr Sanders scored 22 points to lead Alabama-Birmingham over Southern Methodist 67-53 on Wednesday night.

What a Win for Marshall:  Marshall stunned #21 West Virginia, in an obvious rivalry game, in front of a sellout crowdof over 12,000 at the Charleston Coliseum (neutral site).  

Damier Pitts tied a career high with 25 points to lead Marshall to a 75-71 win over No. 21 West Virginia on Wednesday night in front of a sell-out crowd of 12,380 at the Charleston Civic Center.

More Herd:  For more on Marshall's win, check out this post at Herd Haven.  The Marshall fans are really happy today.  And for good reason.

Okay, One More:  Also the Charleston Gazette has a nice article here- this is a huge win for the Marshall program.

Marshall? Well, it had a nice record, but it simply hadn't figured out how to win on the big stage.

Until Wednesday.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane 57, Houston Cougars 64

Can Tulsa Win a Game on the Road?  Justin Hurtt scored 21 points but Tulsa lost yet another road game.  TU hasn't won a road game yet.  The entire season.

Tulsa (9-9 overall, 2-2 in C-USA) has lost all five of its road games this season - all by 10 points or fewer - and will try to break the skid in Saturday's contest at Tulane. 

The Schedule Ahead

Here is Saturday's Schedule.  For more info, check out the C-USA flyer for the weekend.  Note that Memphis and UAB play on ESPN2 Saturday evening.  Southern Miss and SMU will be on the Texas Channel (Time Warner throughout Texas).  UTEP at Houston will be on TWC in El Paso.  Memphis at UAB is the game of the week but we'll know a lot more about the C-USA after Saturday night.

The Storylines:  Is Houston's basketball squad for real?  Can Marshall use the WVU win to catapult them into the C-USA title discussion?  Can UCF stop the bleeding and beat a struggling but talented Rice squad?   Can Tulsa win one on the road?  Just one?

UPCOMING GAMES Saturday, January 22

Southern Miss at SMU (TW Texas) ........2:00p

Tulsa at Tulane (Cox) .............................2:00p

East Carolina at Marshall..........................6:00p

Memphis at UAB (ESPN2).........................6:00p

Rice at UCF (BHSN) ................................,6:00p

UTEP at Houston ......................................7:00 (TWC)

Random but Noteworthy:  Here's the Houston Chronicle's obligatory "Case Keenum is back and motivated story."

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Just some quick notes here on the UTEP Miners.  I went ahead and numbered the links.  I don't know why.

1.  I'm Game.  Is UTEP and TCU?  Voodoo 5, the SBNation blog for the South Florida Bullshas written an open letter to Bob Stull.  They want UTEP and USF to help our fellow Texas school TCU out of a jam.  You see, the Texas Tech Red Raiders chickened out of a game against TCU next season (for the second time in as many years) and the MWC wants to screw TCU by moving their game against Boise State to the blue turf even thought the game was planned for Ft. Worth.  Voodoo 5 has the solution to TCU's problems.

1.b. Speaking of future schedules, Dustin Rensink at SBNation Houston thinks the Coogs 2011 schedule is total weaksauce.  

I want to see us prove that we are worthy of playing in a better conference by beating teams from those conferences.

2.  "It's Killing Me"  Billy Gillispie says being out of coaching is "killing" him.  I always like Billy G and I hope he lands on his feet. Check out the interview here (radio).

3.  Speaking of "Toxic" Coaches:  SI's Stewart Mandel has a nice column up on Mike Leach.  Is he the new "Mike Price"?

Perhaps time and the resolution of his lawsuits will enhance Leach's stock come this time next year. Other coaches (UCF's George O'Leary, UTEP's Mike Price) endured controversial firings and landed on their feet, albeit at less glamorous destinations. It took five years, but Rick Neuheisel eventually resurfaced at alma mater UCLA after settling a lawsuit with the NCAA and Washington over his termination for participating in a March Madness pool. And Leach's resume is arguably better.

4.  The Recruit:  C.J. Cooper, a UTEP basketball hoops commit is having a heck of a basketball season.  Insidesocal.com says he's been a Top 5 player.  Nice find here.

C.J. Cooper, La Verne Lutheran -- He's the straw that stirs the drink, averaging 16 points and five assists. He could probably average 25 points a game on most teams, but does what is needed to help the Trojans win.

5.  Old Miners Resurface:  Gary Nord, the old Miner coach with the infamous 4, nay I mean 5 year plan to success has landed as the offensive coordinator at Purdue.  Purdue has also hired former UTEP offensive coordinator Patrick Higgins.

6.  A Quick Football Recruiting Note:  Quantumii_USA (a.k.a. Angel Luna) tweeted that UTEP has offered a 6'7 offensive lineman, Chris Stringer, from Citrus C.C.  We might have to nickname the tackle prospect IHOP, because judging by this video, all he does is serve pancakes.


7.  Trint Jenkins Update:  Jenkins is the 6'9 tackle prospect from Tulsa that UTEP offered last week.  Other D-1 schools have now found out about him.  Matt Baker of the Tulsa World has the story.  The race is on.

South Florida, Arkansas State and Western Kentucky have recently offered the 6-foot-9, 312-pound senior. He landed an offer from UTEP after starring in an all-star event last month.

For the latest UTEP Miners News, follow Miner Rush on Twitter and Facebook.

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