Due to the lack of high profile games in conference this week, the Games of the Week post will take on a little different format. This week there will be an expanded breakdown of the best game in C-USA, the Memphis Tigersat the UTEP Miners. As it stands, after this morning's game, the UAB Blazers, and Southern Miss Golden Eagles are now tied atop the league standings at 9-4. Memphis, UTEP, and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane follow closely behind at 8-4. Don't expect that to hold for long though, as nothing has the entire season. We'll see where we stand in a few days.
GAME OF THE WEEK
The Memphis Tigers (20-7, 8-4) @ The UTEP Miners (20-7, 8-4)
3:00 p.m. et, Saturday February 26th. El Paso, TX Don Haskins Center
Nationally Televised on ESPN2.
Memphis (20-7, 8-4) RPI: 36
The Tigers enter the week in a three way tie for third with UTEP and Tulsa. They are coming off a loss against Rice on Saturday which completely displays their inconsistency. Prior to Saturday's game the Tigers had won four straight including at Gonzaga, at UCF, and at home against UAB and Southern Miss. At times, the Tigers show that they are possibly the best team in Conference USA, but they are so erratic that it is just tough to say how good they really can be. One thing is for sure, they are extremely talented. Memphis coach Josh Pastner and his staff did a great job recruiting, bringing in one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. However, they are still young, and have shown their youth on a number of occasions. The Tigers will play Houston at home on Tuesday, before making the trip to El Paso for Saturday's game.
UTEP Miners (20-7, 8-4) RPI: 51
The Miners entered the week all alone in first place in Conference USA, but after this morning's loss to UCF they find themselves tied for third with Memphis and Tulsa. The Miners are an extremely experienced team, in fact, the most experienced in the nation. Unfortunately, they haven't been playing like it. The Miners lost 74-68 this morning to UCF, but were down by as many as 19 in the second half. They have now dropped two of three, and three of six since the end of January. The Miners have lost their defensive intensity as of late, and just aren't in sync on the offensive end. Randy Culpepper and Christian Polk have been alternating shooting slumps, and Julyan Stone may be bothered by a nagging knee injury. They will certainly need to pull it all together to pick up this win. The Miners fly to ECU today, before returning home to take on Memphis.
The Miners have seemed to struggle in big games, and against teams who have athletic players down in the post. They have given up a double-double in three of the last four contests so look out for Tarik Black. The Tigers have trouble putting teams away, and tend to fall asleep early, but they also find a way to win most of the time. Eight of their conference games have been decided by 6 points or less, and six of those eight are wins. The Miners should respond after this home loss against UCF. Look for UTEP to jump out to an early lead, but no matter how large it gets never count the Tigers out.
The Miners won't lose two in a row on their home court, Miners 73-70.
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