The UTEP Miners (8-8, 1-1) take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (7-9, 0-2) in a Conference USA matchup at the Donald W. Reynolds Center in Tulsa, OK. Tipoff is slated for 6:00 p.m. MT. The two teams have met 43 times previously, with Tulsa holding a 27-16 advantage.
The two teams last met in the semifinals of the Conference USA tournament last year, a game won by the Miners 66-54. The last time these two teams met in Tulsa, Hurricane G Justin Hurtt responded to a Randy Culpepper bucket by hitting the go ahead jumper with only second remaining in the contest. Tulsa escaped, 69-68.
Tulsa enters the contest at 7-9 overall, and 0-2 in conference. Last week the Hurricane dropped a close one on the road at Houston, 70-69 in OT, and another at home against SMU, 57-55. TU is led by sophomore G Jordan Clarkson who comes in averaging 15.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest. Scottie Haralson, a junior G, is the only other Hurricane to average in double figure scoring with 10.9 points per game.
The Miners come into the contest at 8-8 overall, and 1-1 in conference play. They will be looking to get above .500 for the first time this season. Last week the Miners traveled to Huntington, WV to take on the Marshall Thundering Herd, and then returned home for a matchup with Houston. The Herd dropped UTEP 76-60, and the Miners then turned around to beat Houston 70-50.
Senior F Gabriel McCulley leads the way for the Miners with 12.2 points and 4.5 rebounds a game. He is coming off a career best 22 point effort in last Saturday's win over Houston. Sophomore G Michael Perez, who sat out Saturday's game with an ankle injury, averages 11.7 points per outing, and is expected to return tonight.
Freshman G Julian Washburn, who is also coming off a career high 19 point effort against Houston, will be in action tonight, and is now averaging 10.9 points per game to go along with 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. Sophomore C John Bohannon is averaging 9.1 points, and better than 6 boards per game, and freshman F Cedrick Lang is having a terrific season averaging nearly 8 points and 5 rebounds a game.
One would have to think that the Miners are the better teams coming into tonight's game. They have won 7 of 11, including wins over Clemson and Auburn, and have put up some solid efforts in losses to top 25 teams UNLV and Kansas St. Tulsa on the other hand has dropped 9 of 13, and while many of those losses have been close, the Hurricane just haven't figured out how to close out games.
It should be a good one, as most contests between these two teams usually are. Current lines have the Miners as 6.5 point underdogs, but we'll see if those lines hold up. It should be a good one, and I, like many of you, can't wait for tipoff. Go Miners!!