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The Daily Dig: 3.4.10

As the Miners rested up for Saturday's sold-out home finale, Memphis took a dagger to the heart of the UAB Blazers.  UAB was already square on the bubble, but now we have to wonder if the Blazers loss cost C-USA a second bid to the tournament.  Let's take a look around the good, old C-US of A!

UTEP Miners

Find the Hot HandRandy Culpepper discussed the game plan coming into the second half of the Marshall game.

"Going into halftime, Coach Barbee told me to keep it up," Culpepper said. "Once I hit the first couple of 3s, Julyan Stone, our point guard, said he’d keep coming back to me. That’s exactly what happened."

M-V-P?  With Elijah Millsap's UAB Blazers losing four conference games, I don't see how Randy Culpepper isn't the favorite for C-USA Player of the Year going into the final game of the season.  Eric Bailey of the Tulsa World has some numbers to support Randy's case for the award.

UTEP's Randy Culpepper is one of the favorites for the league's player of the year. The 6-foot guard has made a large impact for the Miners and has averaged 24.2 points a game in the team's last six games.

I'm Selling This:  Some Chicago papers and blogs are starting to run with the idea of Tony Barbee taking over the DePaul job next year.

Davis' tweet is also the first I've heard of Tony Barbee being in the running. Honestly though, this one makes a bit of sense. Barbee is the highly successful coach of UTEP. The Miners have built a strong program and he's made the CBI twice and is going to the NCAA Tournament this season. He's from Indianapolis, IN and was an assistant to some very good coaches before starting his career. Tuck that name in your back pocket.

A Late Start to Spring:  UTEP will be the last C-USA team to kick off spring practice.  Mike Price & Co. will take the field March 25 through April 24, 2010.  The complete C-USA spring schedule is here.


Cruel Intentions:  "UAB Getting Used to Being Slapped Around by Memphis Tigers."  That's the headline of Geoff Calkins' column on the UAB Game in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.  You think the headline is rough, try the article.

With 19 seconds left in the game, they stood and silently walked to the exits, wondering when their UAB basketball team might finally beat Memphis. Never seems like a pretty safe answer at this point. UAB will never beat Memphis. Next UAB fans will never know what it’s like to walk out of a Memphis game feeling something other than squashed.

Dos Memphis:  The Tigers have clinched the #2 seed in the C-USA Tournament.  UAB looks good for the three, but there is an outside possibility of a three way tie between UAB, Marshall, and Tulsa for the three and four seed.  Somebody isn't getting a bye.

The victory gives Memphis sole possession of second place in Conference USA. The loss snapped the Blazers' four-game winning streak and dealt a blow to their NCAA tournament chances.

Three Times a Charm:  UAB always seems to find new frustrating ways to lose to Memphis.  Let's keep that in mind if they meet in the C-USA semi-final.

Senior Doneal Mack was standing in the corner, right in front of the University of Memphis bench, waiting for the ball to come to him. With 2 minutes, 53 seconds remaining in another wild game at Bartow Arena, he squared up, took the pass and shot it like a wooden stake into a dragon’s heart. "When I released it, it felt like last year," Mack said. And the year before. And the year before. And the year before. Another big shot for the Tigers in Birmingham. Another Blazers heartbreak.


The Bubble Goes Pop?  Did UAB just get knocked off the bubble?

The larger issue is how big a hit this loss will be to UAB's hopes of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. The Blazers are 23-6 overall and have a strong, deserving resume, but their 11-4 conference mark leaves them in third place in Conference USA with one game left.

There's No Place Like Home?  The Blazers have lost to Marshall, UTEP, and now Memphis at home.  The losses are making Mike Davis question his own coaching methods.

"The first four or five minutes, we look like it’s our first game and it’s me, it’s not them," Davis said. "We’ve never struggled like this at home. The last couple of years, we only lost one at home and that was against Memphis. I just got to change my methods and my approach at home."


Keeping Pace:  Tulsa still has a chance at the #4 seed and a first-round bye.  The Hurricane held off SMU at home.

Tulsa's win was hard-earned and much-needed. The Hurricane kept its pursuit of an opening-round bye alive for next week's Conference USA Tournament at the BOK Center.



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