The UTEP Miners (10-7, 3-1 CUSA) will take on the East Carolina Pirates (12-6, 3-2 CUSA) in their third CUSA road game tonight at the Minges Coliseum. This will be the first and only time this season that the Miners will play back to back road games. The Miners will take on UAB on January 30th in Birmingham.
This will be 7th meeting all time vs. the Pirates. UTEP leads the series 5 to 2, however, the Miners are only 1-2 when games are played in Greenville, NC. The last meeting between the two schools took place on January 18th 2012 when the Miners defeated the Pirates by a final of 70-56 at the Don Haskins Center. John Bohannon had a double-double (17 pts, 14 reb) in that meeting. Gabriel McCulley had 16 points and Julian Washburn also pitched in 12 points.
The Miners are coming off a six day break. UTEP defeated SMU back on January 19th by a final of 63-54. This was a game that the Miners should have walked away with but allowed SMU to stay in the game. After the two games on the road, the Miners will play three straight conference games against Tulane (Feb 2nd), Rice (Feb 6th) and Tulsa (Feb 9th).
East Carolina last played on January 23rd when they took on the University of Alabama Birmingham. The Pirates defeated the Blazers by a final of 91 to 85. ECU was lead by junior Ty Armstrong (6'8 235) monstrous night. Armstrong had 18 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and a block. However, this was not a one man show for the Pirates. Along with Armstrong's double digit points, ECU had five more players post double digit points as well (Kemp 17, Roberts-Campbell 16, Paul 12, Richmond 12, Sampson 10).
Coming into this game against UTEP, ECU has had a pretty easy schedule. The Pirates toughest games were against Memphis (loss) and then ranked 21st UNC (loss). Other than that, the Pirates schedule has been padded with D-2 and lower D-1 schools that they are supposed to beat. The Pirates are one of the highest scoring teams in the nation, so we should expect for there to be a shootout tonight if the Miners cannot play defense.
ECU is currently ranked 17th in the nation in points per game at 78.2. The Pirates are ranked 56th in rebounds per game at 38.1 and 5th in the nation in assists at 17.7 per game. ECU shoots 45 percent from the field which ranks them 99th in the nation. Tulsa is currently 3-2 in CUSA play with victories over UCF (88-85 OT), Houston (89-78) and UAB (91-85).
The Miners are coming off a 63-54 win over SMU last Saturday night. Senior guard Jacques Streeter (6'0 175 lbs) scored 17 of his season high 18 points in the first half of the game to go along with 2 assists and 2 steals. Senior guard Konner Tucker (6'4 185 lbs) had 12 points to go along with 3 assists and 2 steals. In twenty four minutes of play, sophomore forward Cedrick Lang (6'9 225 lbs) had 9 points, 6 rebounds and a steal. Sophomore guard/forward Julian Washburn had a quite scoring night but was very generous to the rest of the team. Julian had 6 points to go along with 6 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
The Miners took out their scoring frustrations out on the Mustangs, but I feel that if we start out cold against the Pirates like we did with Tulsa, it will be a long night. With that said, this would prove to be a big win for the Miners now that they have suffered their first conference loss. This team should be much more humble knowing that there are teams out there that can beat them and that not every night is going to be an offensive fury.
The Miners are currently ranked 269th in the nation in scoring at 63.2 points per game. UTEP ranks 308th in the nation in rebounding (31.3) and 184th in assists (12.7) per game. The Miners are currently ranked 107th in the nation in field goal percentage at 44.7 percent per game.
Points- Konner Tucker (12.6), Julian Washburn (12.2), John Bohannon (10.4)
Rebounds- John Bohannon (6.2), McKenzie Moore (4.8), Cedrick Lang (4.7)
Assists: Jacques Streeter (4.6), Julian Washburn (1.9), Konner Tucker (1.6)
East Carolina Pirates:
Rebounds- Robert Sampson (9.2), Maurice Kemp (8.0), Ty Armstrong (4.9)
Assists- Miguel Paul (6.2), Maurice Kemp (2.4), Corvonn Gaines (2.3)
Final thoughts: It is really great that UTEP got over the woes they had against Tulsa. There is one thing I am worried about this match up and it is not the game itself, it is the east coast. There is just something about UTEP and playing in the east coast that doesn't fare well no matter what sport is being played. If the Miners are to win tonight they must play defense from tip off to the final buzzer as well as take SMART shots. We cannot expect a victory if we are going to take up a horrible shot that doesn't put us in position for an offensive rebound. With that said, I just feel like UTEP might come up a bit short tonight against the Pirates.
Prediction: Pirates 73, Miners 69