Maybe not the tournament most want to snap the streak with, but UTEP ends its three season postseason drought with a CBI first round match up against Fresno State Wednesday evening in the Don Haskins Center.
Both Fresno State and UTEP finished the regular season on a strong note, though both were bounced out of their respective conference tournaments in the quarterfinals.
Fresno State has the mold of other C-USA teams, perimeter scoring, with four guards averaging over 10 points a game, and player of the bench that averages nine a game.
Tim Floyd on Fresno State:
This is a team that is really quick and really fast, they remind me of Tulsa that way. They really shoot the ball well. They've got multiple inside guys that can step out, pop and shoot it. They are really athletic. They look like a Mountain West team that can go play with New Mexico, Nevada, Boise State and Colorado State and beat those teams, which they did often times this year."
Tyler Johnson earned second team All-Mountain West honors, averaging 16 points per game, and averaged over 18 points in conference play, he also averages 7.4 rebounds a game.
Johnson fired a 43 percent mark from behind the three point line, leading five Bulldogs who have over 100 attempts from deep. Johnson was also 50 percent or better from deep in 11 of their 18 league games, and ranked number one in the conference in three point percentage during MWC games.
Marvelle Harris is second on the team in scoring, he has reached double digits in 16 of their last 18 conference games. He ranked in the top ten in scoring during MWC play, also ranking top-15 in rebounds as well, he averages 14.8 points, and 5.6 rebounds a game.
Sophomore guard Cezar Guerrero is another capable guard that could give the Miners trouble. The lighting quick Guerrero was among the leaders in the MWC in steals, and in assists, also capable of going off from behind the three point line, but is 0 of his last 12 in the past three games.
They also boast the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the year in Paul Watson. His scoring numbers won't jump out at you, but he shoots 40 percent from the three, and has great rebounding ability if he has space.
After a rough start to the season that saw the Bulldogs drop 10 of 13 games during a period. Head Coach Rodney Terry improved their defense to win 9 out of their last 12, giving up just 63.9 during their win slide, compared to the 78.8 points a game they were allowing during the losing slide.
"We've got some young freshmen that had really good years. But I think they need to play more basketball, we played 33 games. They all aspire to play beyond this level. If they do, they're hoping to play 82. But who wants to play? Who likes to play? Who's going to work in the offseason? And who's going to play coming off of a loss, which we most recently did?
"I think it's a wonderful opportunity to play in front of a fan base that really showed their appreciation this year and came out and supported a team that was down in the dumps in late December and early January. We're going to play against a quality team, a team that can play against anybody in our league. I look forward to the opportunity."
The Bulldogs also do a great job getting to the free throw line with five guys having 90 attempts or more from the charity stripe, lead by Guerrero who shoots almost 90 percent, while Johnson shoots close to 80 percent.
UTEP has to be able to control the boards, Fresno State has -2.7 rebounding margin, and it seems Johnson is their only solid, consistent rebounder, though Alex Davis is a guy who can create problems if he is not boxed out just like Watson, the Miners will be the way bigger team again.
Despite the loss to Southern Miss., UTEP still ranks sixth in the nation in field goal percentage, and three-point field goal percentage defense, the field goal defense mark is the best since 1962-63 season for the Miners.
All things point to this one being close, if the Miners can control the boards and take of the ball, they should able to build a lead.
Interesting to see how much pressure the Bulldogs will try to bring with their quick guards, also long rebounds have killed UTEP on the defensive end, adjustments are definitely needed there.
Fresno State is capable of shooting the lights out in the Don, but is only 5-9 on the road this season. Perimeter defense has hurt UTEP at points this season, but the recent ECU game was a great example of why this team is great defensively, and can flat out shut you down.
Current Record: 23-10, 12-4 C-USA
C.J. Cooper, Jr, G, 9.8 ppg,
Julian Washburn, Jr, G, 13.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Vince Hunter, Fr, F, 1262 ppg, 6.4 rpg
John Bohannon, Sr, F, 11.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg
Matt Willms, Fr, C, 5.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg
|Points Per Game||69.4|
|Rebounds Per Game||36.2|
|Assists Per Game||13.4|
|Steals Per Game||
Current Record: 17-16, 9-9 Mountain West
Marvelle Harris, G, So, 14.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg
Paul Watson, G, Fr, 10.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg
Cezar Guerrero, G, So, 12.6 ppg, 122 assists
Tyler Johsnon, F, Sr, 16.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg
Alex Davis, F, Jr, 6.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg
|Points Per Game||73.3|
|Rebounds Per Game||34.3|
|Assists Per Game||12.3|
|Steals Per Game||