UTEP vs. Tulsa Preview

USA TODAY Sports

UTEP faces Tulsa tonight at the Donald Reynolds Center for a CUSA showdown. Tip-off is slated for 6:05 El Paso time.

The UTEP Miners (9-6, 2-0 CUSA) will take on the Golden Hurricane of Tulsa (10-7, 2-1 CUSA) in their second CUSA road game tonight at the Donald Reynolds Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tip-off is slated for 8:05pm ET (6:05 El Paso Time).

This will be 46th meeting between the two schools. Tulsa leads the series 28-17. UTEP has won six of the last eight games vs. Tulsa coming into tonight's matchup after losing four straight times from 2007-2009. The last meeting between the two schools took place on February 8th 2012 when the Miners won 64-55 after John Bohannon scored 16 points off the bench. Julian Washburn provided 13 points along with former Miner guard Michael Perez's 14.

UTEP is playing their third game in five nights. The Miners were victorious over Marshall on January 12th defeating the Thundering Herd 74-63 and on January 14th over Houston Baptist 72-44. This was the second time this season that the Miners posted consecutive 70 plus point games at the Don Haskins Center since defeating Oregon and Arkansas Pine Bluff.

Tulsa is coming off a 64-51 conference win over Rice. Freshman guard Shaquille Harrison (6'3 175 lbs) led the way for the Golden Hurricane with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals. Senior forward Kauri Black (6'7 220 lbs) had 10 points and 6 rebounds for Tulsa. Junior guard Pat Swilling Jr. (6'2 210 lbs) came off the bench and scored 12 points and pulled down 4 rebounds with 1 assist in 25 minutes of play.

Coming into this game against UTEP, Tulsa has had a relatively easy schedule. Their toughest competition was against then ranked #17 Creighton in which they lost 71-54. They have hand close games against TCU (50-49 victory) and SMU (48-47 victory). UTEP is one of only three schools in CUSA (So. Miss and Memphis) that have won on the road in conference play. Tulsa played Marshall at Marshall and lost 79-61. The Miners must remember that anything can happen, especially now in conference play.

Tulsa is currently ranked 230th in the nation in points per game at 65.5. The Golden Hurricane are ranked 120th in rebounds per game at 36.6 and 311th in the nation at 10.6 per game. Tulsa shoots 44 percent from the field which ranks them 139th in the nation. Tulsa is currently 2-1 in CUSA play with victories over Rice (64-51) and SMU (48-47).

The Miners are coming off a 72-44 non conference win over Houston Baptist University on Monday night. UTEP had three players score in double figures vs. the Huskies. Senior guard Konner Tucker (6'4 185 lbs) led the way for the Miners with 12 points. Sophomore forward Cedrick Lang (6'9 225 lbs) had 11 points to go along with 7 rebounds. Sophomore guard/forward Julian Washburn (6'7 205 lbs) also had 11 points and 6 rebounds. Sophomore guard McKenzie Moore (6'6 190 lbs) continued to flourish into one of UTEP biggest weapons scoring 8 points while pulling down 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 steal and 1 assist.

In order for the Miners to be taken serious in the conference as well as in the nation's eye, a victory tonight over Tulsa is a must. I will not say that UTEP's upcoming schedule is easy but if we play exceptionally well, I don't see any reason why we can't be 9-0 in CUSA play going into the game with Southern Mississippi.

The Miners continue to improve statistically compared to earlier in the season. The Miners are currently ranked 247th in the nation in scoring at 64.6 points per game. UTEP ranks 303rd in the nation in rebounding (31.3) and 179th in assists (12.9) per game. The Miners are currently ranked 83rd in the nation in field goal percentage at 45.5 percent per game.

Statistical Leaders:

UTEP Miners:

Points- Konner Tucker (13.4), Julian Washburn (13.1), John Bohannon (11.1)

Rebounds- John Bohannon (6.3), McKenzie Moore (4.6), Cedrick Lang (4.5)

Assists: Jacques Streeter (4.8), Julian Washburn (1.7), Konner Tucker (1.6)

Tulsa Golden Hurricane:

Points- James Woodard (12.9), Pat Swilling Jr. (10.5), Scottie Haralson (9.5)

Rebounds- James Woodard (6.0), Kauri Black (5.2), D'Andre Wright (5.1)

Assists- Shaquille Harrison (2.1), James Woodard (2.1), Pat Swilling Jr. (1.6)

Final thoughts: While in conference play anything can happen. We have seen this team improve after every game and they continue to focus and fix the little things that continue to plague them. All Miner fans out there must have respect for the teams we play on the road. We cannot continue to think that we can beat any team anywhere without putting up a fight. With that said I do feel that UTEP will give Tulsa a run for their money. I see the Miners winning tonight at Tulsa but it will be a tough game. UTEP must shoot better than 40 % tonight from the field and outrebound if they plan to win. In road games including the Old Spice Classic, UTEP has only outrebounded two schools: Oklahoma (L) and Tulane (W) and shot better than 40 % only three times vs. Oklahoma (L), Vanderbilt (L) and Tulane (W).

Prediction: Miners 64, Golden Hurricane 61

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