Tomorrow afternoon, UTEP travels to Tulsa to take on the Golden Hurricane in a game that is shaping up to have major C-USA tournament implications. Coming off a loss at Marshall, Tulsa needs to hold serve at home to keep pace with UAB and Memphis and preserve a top 4 finish in C-USA standings and the first round bye in the conference tournament that comes along with it.
|Offensive Efficiency||107.3 (85)||107.7 (74)|
|Defensive Efficiency||88.3 (17)||94.0 (67)|
|UTEP Road/Tulsa Home Record||6-3||15-1|
* Offensive/defensive efficiency are all courtesy of KenPom.
When examining Tulsa, you have to start by examining their 1-2-3 punch of Ben Uzoh, Jerome Jordan, and Justin Hurtt. The last time around, when UTEP handled Tulsa 59-73 at the Don, Hurtt and Uzoh were held well below their season averages. The two combined for 14 points on atrocious shooting (combined 5/21). Jerome Jordan, Tulsa's super talented seven foot center, was their best player that day (20 points and 5 rebounds), but, despite his ability to score, the Miners controlled the paint by out-rebounding TU 37-27. Arnett Moultrie and Derrick Caracter both had double-doubles.
Coming off a tough loss at Marshall, Tulsa is getting into must-win territory. A loss at home, with two of their last three C-USA games on the road, Tulsa is in very real danger of dropping behind the Thundering Herd for the coveted 4 seed in the tourney and resulting first round bye.
Key Matchup: Arnett Moultrie/Derrick Caracter vs.Jerome Jordan
UTEP's formidable frontline has to keep Jordan off the glass the way it did in El Paso when it held to 5 rebounds. Anytime you have two teams who like to run like the Miners and Golden Hurricane, every possession becomes critical. Moultrie and Caracter both have legitimate shots at playing professional basketball. Jordan, an athletic, true 7' footer is obviously catching the eye of NBA scouts and even considered leaving TU after his junior season to declare for the draft. In his last five games, he has three double doubles, including a monster night on the glass in the Marshall loss where he had a season high 15 rebounds.
Highlights of Game 1 in El Paso courtesy of KVIA.com
Tulsa is a very athletic, long, team whose best players (Jordan and Ben Uzoh) are seniors and strong leaders. Hurtt has established himself as a solid third scoring option on the wing and is also an upperclassmen. This is a veteran team who knows the importance of this game on their postseason plans. At home, in a pivotal conference clash, expect them to come out swinging against everybody's new C-USA darling. Tulsa is an incredible 15-1 in true home games this season. Despite that, Coach Barbee has the Miners clicking on all cylinders right now. Some wonder if the "bye" week they enjoyed came at the wrong time. My only worry is that all the tournament talk may have the Miners looking too much to the future to focus on the game at hand, but I don't expect that to to be the case. The Miners aren't ranked yet, and make no mistake about it, they want to crack the Top 25 and assert themselves as the true favorite in the C-USA tourney. This should be a fun one to watch.