Coming into this game against the Owls, UTEP knew that they needed to finish out the season strong. The first test would be to get only their third road win of the season against the Rice Owls. UTEP took one more step closer to accomplishing that task by defeating the Rice Owls this afternoon by a final of 76 to 56. With the victory over the Owls, the Miners improve to 16-12 overall with a 9-5 mark in Conference USA.
UTEP was led this afternoon by big play once again from UTEP's big men. John Bohannon and Cedrick Lang combined for a total of 19 points and 19 rebounds. C.J. Cooper provided a much needed spark off the bench for the Miners scoring 10 points and 3 rebounds in only 24 minutes of play. Julian Washburn also had 10 points and 4 rebounds for UTEP. The loss for the Owls dropped them to 5-23 on the season and 1-13 overall in Conference USA play.
The win on the road really does help UTEP more than you may think. If the Miners can defeat Memphis at home on Tuesday and defeat SMU next Saturday, they might have a chance to make the CUSA title game without having to run through Memphis. With UCF on a post season ban, the third seed should almost be locked up for the Miners. The consistent home play must transfer into good road play in Dallas next week and in Tulsa on March 13th.
Looking to the game on Tuesday, the Memphis Tigers have clinched their 8th CUSA regular season title. With the bitter rivalry that we have with Memphis, i expect the Tigers to play their usual starters and treat this game as a do or die. Tuesday night will mark the final home game for seniors Malcolm Moore, Jacques Streeter and Konner Tucker. The game is scheduled to be nationally televised and will start at 7 pm El Paso time. Should the Miners win on Tuesday and UAB lose, they should have the first round CUSA bye.