UTEP Miners vs. Memphis Tigers Preview

Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE

The UTEP Miners will face their final home opponent of the 2012-2013 season tonight against the #25 ranked Memphis Tigers. Tip off is scheduled for 7 pm El Paso time and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

The UTEP Miners (16-12, 9-5 CUSA) will take on the #25 ranked Memphis Tigers (25-4, 14-0 CUSA) tonight at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas. This will be the the last home game this year for the Miners. On senior night, we will bid farewell to guards Jacques Streeter and Konner Tucker, as well as forward Malcolm Moore.

This will be the only time the Miners and Tigers face off this season. The only other way they will play each other, will be if both teams make the CUSA finals. Memphis looked almost human early on in the season when they started out 2-2, but quickly turned that around and lost only two more games the rest of the season. Compared to the Memphis teams of the past, this Tiger team does not blow out teams while on the road. Almost all the games that they have played on the road could have gone to either team. Memphis' biggest road win of the season was 16 against Rice. The Tigers were victorious in their last game at UCF when they beat the Knights by a final of 76-67.

Memphis is currently ranked 28th in the nation in points per game at 75.2. The Tigers are currently ranked 53rd in rebounds per game at 37.5 and 7th in the nation in assists at 16.9 per game. Memphis shoots 47.9 percent from the field which ranks them 15th in the nation.

The Miners last game took place back on March 2nd when UTEP defeated Rice by a final of 67-56. This was only the third win on the road by the Miners this season. Coming into the game tonight vs. Memphis, UTEP can possibly tie their biggest win streak of the season at 3 for the third time this season. Winning this game vs. Memphis or on Saturday against SMU will lock up the third seed for the Miners in the CUSA tournament. If you did not know, the top four seeds in the CUSA tournament get first round byes and this will be important for the Miners if they don't want to face Memphis again early on in the tournament.

The Miners are currently ranked 276th in the nation in scoring at 63.0 points per game. UTEP ranks 296th in the nation in rebounding at 31.7 and 147th in assists at 12.9 per game. The Miners are currently ranked 120th in the nation in field goal percentage at 44.2 percent per game.

Statistical Leaders:

UTEP Miners:

Points- Julian Washburn (11.4), John Bohannon(11.1), Konner Tucker (10.7)

Rebounds- John Bohannon (6.5), Cedrick Lang(5.4), McKenzie Moore (5.3)

Assists: Jacques Streeter (5.1), McKenzie Moore (2.1), Julian Washburn (1.7)

Memphis Tigers:

Points- Joe Jackson (13.9), Adonis Thomas (11.7), Geron Johnson (10.4)

Rebounds- D.J. Stephens (6.8), Shaq Goodwin (4.8), Tarik Black (4.6)

Assists- Joe Jackson (4.8), Chris Crawford (3.4), Geron Johnson (3.3)

Final thoughts: It is no secret to anyone that UTEP plays their best basketball on their own home court. The only two losses that they Miners have endured while at home tally up to a whopping 6 points (insert sarcasm). Every game that has been played up until now, has been to prepare UTEP for a game like this. While the regular season championship has been captured by Memphis, there is no reason why we can not embarrass a top 25 team at home and on television. I would not be surprised if Memphis starts their usual starting five. The key to a UTEP victory tonight will be to shoot at least 43 % and drive to the lane. Like all the great UTEP vs. Memphis battles of the past, when the big men are out (for either team), the other team will feed off their weakness in the post. We must also hold Memphis to around 60 points. I do not care what Vegas says or any other media outlet, its time to get these guys fired up for the CUSA tournament and a win tonight against Memphis should fuel their fires.

Prediction: UTEP 71, Tigers 63

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