The UTEP Miners (9-7, 2-1) face the SMU Mustangs (11-8, 1-3) in a Conference USA matchup at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, TX. Tipoff for the contest is slated for 2:00 p.m. MT, and the game will be carried live by CSS.
The Miners enter the contest off a disappointing 45-42 loss at Tulsa on Wednesday. The team shot only 31% from the field in that loss, and only had 1 player in double figures. It was one to forget, and hopefully they've done exactly that.
SMU comes into the game off a narrow loss at home to Southern Miss on Wednesday. They actually led by 6 at the half, but wound up falling behind by double digits in the second twenty minutes, before fighting back and losing 74-70.
These two teams have met 40 times previously, with the Miners owning a 25-15 advantage. The two teams last met on March 3, 2012 at Moody Coliseum. The Mustangs escaped with a 57-48 win in that one. However, the last time they met in El Paso, the Miners won 70-64 in overtime.
The Miners are led by graduate senior guard Konner Tucker who is currently averaging 12.7 points a game. Sophomore guard/forward Julian Washburn is right behind Tucker with 12.6 points, and 4.4 rebounds a game, and junior center John Bohannon is the only other Miners averaging double figure scoring. He goes for 11.1 points and 6.5 rebounds.
The Mustangs are led by sophomore guard Jalen Jones who comes in averaging 15 points and 8.4 rebounds a game. Junior guard Nick Russell comes in averaging 13.7 points and 4.2 assists, and sophomore guard Ryan Manuel averages 11.9 points and 4 rebounds a game.
This game is one that will likely be won by the backcourt for either team. If the Miners are able contain guys like Jones and Russell, the Mustangs will be forced to find contribution in other areas. Also, if the Miners are able to find significant contribution from their guards, they should be in line for the win.
These two will probably match up pretty well, but in the end, the Miners just don't lose very often on their home court. And, following the loss to Tulsa, this will be one that they can't afford to drop.
Miners 67, Mustangs 58