The UTEP Miners (14-10, 7-4 CUSA) will take on the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (20-6, 9-2 CUSA) tonight at the Reed Green Coliseum. Tip-off is slated for 6 pm El Paso time. This will be the only meeting between the two schools this season.
This will be 18th meeting all time between the two schools. UTEP leads the series 12-5 and have won 5 of the last 6 meetings between the two schools. This game also holds a special meaning for one of the Miners, as Coach Tim Floyd will return to his home town of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The last game took place back on February 22nd, 2012 when the Miners defeated the Golden Eagles in a double overtime thriller by a final of 76-68. C.J. Cooper had his career high 16 points that night and more importantly gave the Miners the spark they needed.
USM is coming off an 86-82 overtime victory against the ECU Pirates. Dwayne Davis had a big night for the Eagles scoring 23 points and pulling down 2 rebounds. Guard Neil Watson was all over the floor for USM scoring 17 points while grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists. The only other USM player in double figures was Johnathan Mills who had 14 points and 8 rebounds.
USM is currently ranked 37th in the nation in points per game at 74.0. The Golden Eagles are ranked 147th in rebounds per game at 35.4 and 33rd in the nation at 15.3 per game. USM shoots 48.8 percent from the field which ranks them 11th in the nation.
The Miners are coming off a big 73-58 trouncing of UCF on Saturday night at the Don Haskins Center. The crowd was electric from tip off till the final buzzer and even saw some crazy antics from the Miner Maniacs as they performed their own rendition of the popular YouTube hit, the "Harlem Shake". John Bohannon proves to be more explosive coming off the bench rather than as a starter. He scored 16 points while pulling down 5 rebounds and issuing 2 BIG blocks in only 22 minutes of play. Konner Tucker kept up his high scoring ways while dropping 15 points to go along with 4 assists. Julian Washburn had 10 points and 5 rebounds. Jacques Streeter's game is improving at the right time. Streeter is taking better care of the ball and limiting his turnovers.
The Miners are currently ranked 251st in the nation in scoring at 64.4 points per game. UTEP ranks 312th in the nation in rebounding (31.1) and 139th in assists (13.3) per game. The Miners are currently ranked 83rd in the nation in field goal percentage at 45.2 percent per game.
Points- Julian Washburn (12.2), Konner Tucker (11.9), John Bohannon (11.0)
Rebounds- John Bohannon (6.2), McKenzie Moore (5.2), Cedrick Lang (4.9)
Assists- Jacques Streeter (5.2), McKenzie Moore (2.1), Julian Washburn (1.8)
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles:
Points- Dwayne Davis (14.2), Jerrold Brooks (10.6), Neil Watson (9.2)
Rebounds- Johnathan Mills (6.9), Michael Craig (5.1), Dwayne Davis (4.3)
Assists- Neil Watson (5.0), Dwayne Davis (2.3), Jerrold Brooks (2.3)
Final thoughts: The Miners are 2-8 on the road (including neutral court games) this season with their only wins coming against Tulane and the infamous ECU buzzer beater. The point I am trying to get at, is that this Miner team is not very good on the road. It seems to be that there is always something ailing them while on the road. Some games we will see poor shooting, others will be poor free throw shooting, the fact of the matter is, UTEP has not played a complete game on the road and has had opportunities in all 10 away games to win or lose depending solely on basic factors of the game. The keys to victory for the Miners against USM will be to duplicate and execute the exact game plan that they had vs. UCF (tough defense, wise shot selection, drain the shots) and score more than 65 points (both road wins UTEP scored more than 65). I cannot help but feel that we will start this game strong but ultimately end up succumbing to a road woe (poor shot selection, horrid defense, terrible free throw percentage) that seems to stick around year in and out.
Prediction: Southern Mississippi 75, UTEP 62