Los Mineros de UTEP (10-12, 3-5) square off against the UAB Blazers (8-13, 3-5) in a Conference USA matchup tonight at the Don. Tipoff is slated for 7:05 p.m. MT, and it will be "Noche Latina". Festivities at the Don include live mariachi music, Mexican food specials, as well as some good halftime entertainment. Also, the Miners will be sporting white jerseys that read "Mineros", and the first 3,500 fans will receive "replica jersey koozies" with Mineros printed on it. So, come out and enjoy the fun.
The two teams have faced each other 12 times previously, with each school taking 6 wins. The last time they met was January 8th, 2011, and it was a game for the ages. Randy Culpepper lit up the UAB scoreboards with a 34 point effort, but the Blazers escaped with a 100-97 victory in triple overtime.
And for anyone who needs some motivation for tonight's game, just take a look at this:
That there is the most exciting part of last year's game, but it doesn't include the end. For those that care to check out the end of the game, here are some links:
The Blazers come into the contest at 8-13 overall, and 3-5 in Conference USA action. They are fresh off an 80-69 home win over Houston, but as their record indicates, it's been tough going this season. The Blazers started the season at 1-6, and other than a 3 game win streak in late December, they really haven't been able to get things going.
Still though, this team is tough, and this game will be far from easy. The Blazers may have a pretty terrible record, but they've played competitive against a lot of teams. They lost by only 7 to #9 Murray St. early in the season, by 3 to Memphis, by 2 to Marshall, and by 4 at Southern Miss. These guys are extremely capable.
The Blazers are led by senior F Cameron Moore who averages 16.1 points, and 10.7 rebounds a contest. Moore was the one who put the dagger in the Miners' heart last year, knocking down the game winning three in the 3rd OT, and finishing with 29 points. Sophomore G/F Jordan Swing is the only other Blazer averaging in double figure scoring, going for 11.1 points and 3.6 rebounds a game.
The Miners enter the contest at 10-12 overall, and 3-5 in conference play. They have lost 3 games in a row, all on the road, since getting above .500 for the only time this season. The game marks the beginning of a 3 game home stand for the Miners. Hopefully they can use this swing to get this season back on track.
Senior F Gabriel McCulley leads the way for UTEP, averaging 12.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. Sophomore G Michael Perez follows McCulley in scoring, going for 12.2. points a game, while also dishing out a couple of assists.
Freshman G/F Julian Washburn has been pretty consistent all year long, and is currently averaging 11 points and 3.1 rebounds. And, it is sophomore C John Bohannon who been the star as of late, averaging 10.8 points and 7.8 rebounds on the season, and 14.5 points and 9.8 rebounds in Conference USA action.
The Miners are in for a tough one tonight, but again one that they can win. Its probably not the matchup we wanted to see coming off a three game losing streak, but its an opportunity to get back a little momentum heading into the finals week of the season, and into the Conference USA tournament. It should be close, but we should get it done. Can't wait for the tip, Go Miners!!