The UTEP Miners (14-12, 7-5 CUSA) will take on the Houston Cougars (15-10, 4-8 CUSA) tonight at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas. This will be the second time these two schools face off this season. The last time the Miners and the Cougars squared off was back on February 13th when the Miners lost 79-61. That game saw some questionable shot selections by the Miners, ultimately being their demise. Houston had the hotter hand that night against the Miners shooting at 55.1%.
Since their last game, Houston has only played twice, both being losses. The first game was at Tulsa when the Cougars lost 101-92 in triple overtime. The second game was a loss at #21 Memphis by a final of 81-74.
Houston is currently ranked 13th in the nation in points per game at 77.8. The Cougars are currently ranked 26th in rebounds per game at 38.9 and 79th in the nation in assists at 14.5 per game. Houston shoots 45.7 percent from the field which ranks them 63rd in the nation.
Since their last game, UTEP has gone 1-2. The Miner's lone win came against UCF back on February 16th at the Don Haskins by a final of 73-58. The Miners then went on the road for two games in 3 days. The Miners first faced off against USM and lost in a close, low scoring game by a final of 45-39. UTEP then faced off against their I-10 rivals, NMSU. This was another low scoring game for both squads, UTEP losing by a final of 55-51. The concept to look at with both of these games would be the fact that the Miners could have easily won both times, but horrible shot selection was their downfall.
The Miners are currently ranked 280th in the nation in scoring at 62.9 points per game. UTEP ranks 313th in the nation in rebounding (31.0) and 157th in assists (12.9) per game. The Miners are currently ranked 108th in the nation in field goal percentage at 44.5 percent per game.
Assists: Jacques Streeter (5.0), McKenzie Moore (2.2), Julian Washburn (1.7)
Rebounds- TaShawn Thomas (9.7), Leon Gibson (5.6), Danuel House (5.0)
Assists- J.J. Thompson (3.1), TaShawn Thomas (2.4), Joseph Young (2.2)
Final thoughts: Lets face it, the Miners had possibly the ugliest losing streak this past week since they lost four straight early on in the season. There is really no excuse for horrible shot selection and failing to execute what Coach Floyd has drawn up. The beauty of it would be that the game tonight is at the Don Haskins Center. It seems as though whenever the Miners are in a slump, playing at home tends to cure their problems (minus the second Tulsa game- a fluke in my opinion). The keys to a Miner victory tonight: Hold Houston to at least a minimum of 62 points (they average 78 per game) and slow them down. UTEP must shoot better than 44% on the night and take their three point shots seriously, this is not a video game and we know what happens when we get 3pt-Happy.
Prediction: UTEP 67, Cougars 60