The UTEP Miners (8-6) will take on the Houston Baptist Huskies (4-12) in the final home non-conference game tonight at the Don Haskins Center. Tipoff is slated for 7:00 pm MT.
This will be 5th meeting between the two schools. UTEP has won all of the previous four games. Three of the games were played in the 70s while the most recent match up occurred during the 91-92 season when the Miners trounced the Huskies by a final of 95-65. During this game, the Miners pulled down a whopping 61 rebounds setting the all time record for team rebounds in the Don.
UTEP is playing their second game in three days after defeating Marshall 74-63 on Saturday night at the Don Haskins Center. The Miners are looking for their first five home game win streak since the 2010-2011 season when the Miners won fifteen in a row. Houston Baptist is coming off a 83-62 loss against Utah Valley University. The Huskies have yet to win a game on the road this season (0-8) and are playing their second of four away games in a row tonight.
Houston Baptist is coming off a 83-62 loss to Utah Valley University. Senior forward Art Bernardi (6'9 225 lbs) led the way for the Huskies scoring 17 points while pulling down 5 rebounds. Freshman forward Cody Joyce (6'8 220 lbs) added 10 points and 4 boards for the Huskies. Freshman guard Rob Lewis (5'11 180 lbs) came off the bench and scored 13 points and provided 3 assists in 22 minutes of play.
Coming into this game against UTEP, the Huskies are in the midst of a 6 game losing streak and have only won one of their last twelve games (100-61 victory over Arlington Baptist). During these twelve games, Houston Baptist loses by an average of 17 points per game with their biggest loss being a 91-50 trouncing by the Oregon Ducks. The Huskies have not beat a high tier D-1 school this season but have hung around with teams like Rice and Texas A&M.
Houston Baptist is currently ranked 267th in the nation in points per game at 63.3. The Huskies are ranked 171st in rebounds per game at 35.3 and 251st in the nation at 11.8 per game. The Huskies shoot 41 percent from the field which ranks them 267th in the nation. Houston Baptist is currently in the middle of Great West play (0-2), as this will be their last away non-conference game for the remained of the season.
The Miners are coming off a great 74-63 victory over Marshall. This game was very scrappy and saw quite a few technical fouls. However, the Miners held their heads up high and kept their eye on the victory. The Miners had four players in double figures against the Thundering Herd. Senior guard Konner Tucker (6'4 185 lbs) led the way with 18 points. Senior guard Jacques Streeter (6'0 175 lbs) had 14 points and 7 very important assists. On this night, Streeter would join the 500 assist club for his career. Sophomore guard McKenzie Moore (6'6 190 lbs) provided with 14 points and 7 rebounds. McKenzie showed us that he is not only a scoring threat but he can rebound as well. Junior center John Bohannon (6'10 210lbs) had 13 points to go along with 8 boards.
It was very important for the Miners to have a big conference win at home early on. The Miners are now atop the Conference USA posting a 2-0 record in conference play. The importance of tonight's game will help fix those last minute problems as well as give some of the bench players some valuable playing time. UTEP now knows that all of the games in the past are just that, in the past. If the Miners want to be successful for the remained of the season and possibly make a run at the conference title, they must focus on one game at a time and not the bigger picture.
The Miners have really improved statistically since their four game losing streak earlier in the season. A big factor for the improvement of this team is the consistent fire power from Moore and Tucker. The Miners now rank 254th in the nation in scoring at 64.1 points per game after only averaging about 52 back in the month of November. UTEP ranks 321st in the nation in rebounding (30.5) and 192nd in assists (12.7) per game. The Miners are showing us that rebounding might not be necessary if they can keep their hands hot. UTEP ranks 79th in the nation in field goal percentage at 45.6 percent per game.
Points- Konner Tucker (13.6), Julian Washburn (13.2), John Bohannon (11.2)
Rebounds- John Bohannon (6.3), Cedrick Lang (4.3), Julian Washburn (4.3)
Assists: Jacques Streeter (5.1), Konner Tucker (1.7), Julian Washburn (1.6)
Houston Baptist Huskies:
Points- Art Bernardi (13.3), Tyler Russell (11.4), Marcus Davis (7.8)
Rebounds- Art Bernardi (5.3), Marcus Davis (5.0), Dauson Womack (5.0)
Assists- Marcel Smith (2.6), Tyler Russell (2.6), Rob Lewis (1.8)
Final thoughts: I believe the Miners are now starting to play like the team we expected them to be. It is awesome to see that more fans show up every game regardless of the opponent. If we can stay hot shooting tonight, I don't believe that being out rebounded will be a problem. The main thing for the Miners tonight is to keep playing like a team and not a bunch of individuals. I expect to see more of Hooper Vint and Twymond Howard tonight and eventually make their way into some decent minutes down the road in conference play. I don't see the Miners losing at all tonight and I really feel that the fan base will continue to be a problem for visiting schools.
Prediction: Miners 69, Huskies 52