The East Carolina Pirates (9-7, 0-3) come to town tonight to visit the UTEP Miners (9-9, 2-2) in a Conference USA matchup at the Don. The Miners are 4-2 all time versus the Pirates, including a 3-0 mark in El Paso, but UTEP coach Tim Floyd is actually 0-1 all time versus ECU and coach Jeff Lebo.
The last time the two teams met, on February 23, 2011, ECU went to the line an astonishing 45 times, including 37 in the second half, and if you all remember both head coach Tim Floyd and head assistant Phil Johnson were sent to the showers early with double technicals. Needless to say, the Pirates went on to win that contest 83-76.
Meetings in El Paso however have usually taken a much different path. In fact, two of UTEP's highest individual scoring performances in history came against ECU. Back in the 09-10 season, Randy Culpepper torched the Pirates for 45, including 31 in the 1st half, en route to a 100-76 victory. Also, in the 08-09 season, Stefon Jackon dropped 41 on ECU, inlcuding 30 in the final 20 minutes. Also of note, UTEP has had a 20 + point scorer in every contest against ECU.
The Pirates enter the contest at 9-7 overall, and 0-3 in conference play. They had raced out to a 9-4 start, although 4 wins were against non d-1 opponents, but they have since lost 3 straight. ECU is coming off a tough home loss at the hands of a resurgent Tulsa squad, 60-57. Their other two conference losses came at Southern Miss 78-76, and at home against UCF 81-63.
East Carolina is led by by junior G Miguel Paul. Paul, a transer from Missouri, is averaging 16 points, and 5.6 assists per game. Darrius Morrow, a senior F, is averaging 13.9 points, and 6.1 rebounds per contest, and junior F Maurice Kemp, a transfer from Miami Dade JC, is the only other Pirate averaging double figure scoring going for 10.8 points, and 7.2 rebounds a game.
The Miners come into the contest at 9-9 overall, and 2-2 in Conference USA action. They are fresh off an overtime victory over SMU last Saturday. They also lost Tulsa last Wednesday. The Miners have alternated wins and losses for the last 9 contests, and they have yet to get above .500 on the season. While they've had chances to get above .500 against Kansas St. (70-78), Colorado St. (53-56), Marshall (60-76), and Tulsa (48-59) they've failed to do so.
UTEP is led by senior F Gabriel McCulley. McCulley, a 6-8 F from Memphis, TN, is averaging 12 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. Sophomore G Michael Perez is averaging 12.1 points and 2.5 rebounds, freshman G/F Julian Washburn is avering 10.8 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists, and sophomore John Bohannon has really stepped us as of late going for 9.5 points and 6.8 rebounds a game. Over the last 8 games, Bohannon has averaged 12.6 points, and 7.4 rebounds a contest.
Tonight's contest will feature a team on the road, in a hostile environment, and desperate for a conference win versus a young and confident team who although most don't remember last year's debacle in Greenville, will still be looking for revenge, and the chance to get their necks above ground for the first time all season. I'd like to think we'll see another 20+ point scorer, and an Orange and Blue victory. Go Miners!!
**Quick Note: UTEP will honor former Miner great Antonio Davis at halftime. Davis compiled 1,117 points and 744 rebounds in a Miner uniform, the teams he played on went to the NCAA tournament 4 times, and totaled 95 wins.
Also, our Miners will be sporting the throwback Texas Western jerseys tonight. Make sure to make it out and support your Miners.