The UTEP Miners and the Colorado State Rams will get together in a non-conference matchup Wednesday night at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colorado. Tipoff is slated for 8:00 p.m. MT, and the game will be carried nationally by CBS Sports Network.
The Miners (6-5) enter the contest having won five of their last six, including wins over Oregon of the Pac-12 and Nebraska of the Big 10. They have, however, been out of action since playing the Cornhuskers in the championship round of the Sun Bowl Invitational on December 23rd.
The Rams (11-2) come into the game having won five in a row, and own wins over both Washington and Virginia Tech on the season. Included in their five game win streak is a victory over division II Adams State on December 29th. That was the last time CSU was in action.
This will be the 72nd meeting between the Miners and the Rams, with the Miners holding a 46-25 advantage. However, the Rams have won the last six meetings in the series, including last year's nail biter in El Paso. They took that one, on December 28th 2011, by a final of 58-55.
UTEP is led by graduate senior guard Konner Tucker. On the season, Tucker is averaging 15 points, and is shooting a red hot 62.5% from 3 point range. The sharp shooter exploded in his last two contests, going 11-15 from distance, and averaging 17.5 points per game.
Sophomore guard/forward Julian Washburn is also a great scoring threat, averaging nearly 13 points a contest on the season, to go with 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Junior center John Bohannon is the only other Miner to average double figure scoring. He's putting up 12.3 points and 6.3 rebounds a game.
Colorado State is led by senior forward/center Colton Iverson. He's currently averaging 14.5 points and 8.9 rebounds a game on the season. Senior guard Dorian Green averages 12.9 points and 3.8 assists a game, senior forward Greg Smith averages 12 points and 5.8 rebounds, and senior forward Pierce Hornung averages 10.2 points and 9.9 rebounds a game.
There's no question that this will be as tough a test as the Miners will face all season, outside of #3 Arizona. The Rams are a senior laden squad that scores the ball well and knows how to rebound. They are long and athletic, and are a team that doesn't lose often on their home court.
If the Miners want to have an opportunity for a win they will have to be on their A game. Tucker's hot shooting will have to continue, and they will need big efforts from guys like Julian Washburn, Jacques Streeter, and perhaps most importantly John Bohannon, Cedrick Lang, and Chris Washburn Jr.
The Miners cannot afford to give this team second chances, and thus will need to keep the rebounding battle close, if not win it. They will also need to control the tempo of the game and not allow this to become a race. The Rams are a team that averages 75 points a game, but the Miners would be much better suited in the mid 60's.
More than just points and rebounds though, this UTEP team will have to play solid, fundamental basketball on the road. They've struggled away from home, and if that's the case, this could be one that Colorado State runs away with.
Something tells me this team is ready to turn the corner though. Will they come up with the win? We'll have to wait and see. But, this team will be well prepared, and will make a very good game of this one.From there, its just a matter of whether or not the shots will fall.
Miners 67, Rams 65