The UTEP Miners (12-13, 5-6) square off against the Memphis Tigers (19-7, 9-2) in Saturday morning Conference USA action at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN. The Tigers lead the overall series 9-3, but the Miners have taken two of the last three contests.
The two teams last met on March 12, 2011, in the championship round of the Conference USA tournament. The Miners held the lead almost the entire contest, but two Joe Jackson free throws with 7 second left gave Memphis their first lead, the win, and an automatic birth into the NCAA tournament.
The Tigers come into the contest at 19-7 overall, and 9-2 in Conference USA play. The 9-2 mark is tied for tops in the league with Southern Miss. Memphis has won four straight, and 7 of their last 8, and they are fresh off an 82-64 victory over Tulane.
Sophomore G Will Barton leads the way for the Tigers with 18.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. Sophomore G Joe Jackson is the only only Tiger scoring in double figures, averaging 10.2 points, and 3.4 assists a game. The Tigers' Tarik Black and Chris Crawford are just under double digit scoring at 9.9 and 9.7 points a game, respectively.
The Miners come into the contest at 12-13 overall, and 5-6 in conference play. They have won two straight contests, and have been competitive almost all season long, but they have yet to find a win on the road. They had Wednesday off, and knocked off Tulane in overtime last Saturday.
Sophomore G Mike Perez leads the way in scoring with 12.1 points, and 2 assists per game. Memphis native Gabriel McCulley, a senior F, averages 11.8 points, and 5 rebounds a contest. Sophomore C John Bohannon is averaging 11.3 points and 7.3 rebounds, and is having a fantastic C-USA season, and freshman phenom G/F Julian Washburn averages 11.2 points, and 3 rebounds a game.
As we all know, the Miners have still yet to win a true road game this season. Couple that with the fact that this here is easily the Miners' toughest opponent yet in Conference USA, and we could be in for a long day. But, the Miners have played teams like UNLV and Kansas St. tough this season so the last thing I'd expect is for them to fold now. I can't predict a win today, but I would be extremely surprised if they didn't at least stay in the game. We'll see what happens. Go Miners!!