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UTEP Women's Basketball: UTEP at Texas A&M Preview

Two of the top women's college basketball programs in Texas face off in one more non-conference tune-up as the UTEP Miners visit the Texas A&M Aggies.

UTEP's Chrishauna Paker fights for a rebound against SMU
UTEP's Chrishauna Paker fights for a rebound against SMU
Al Carillo-AC Photo

The UTEP Women's basketball team has been knocking on the top-25 door all year, Thursday night they will have a chance to kick that door wide open.

UTEP, led by potential All-American Kayla Thornton, will challenge the Texas A&M Aggies who themselves were top-25 members this season.

Thornton has been more than amazing in the Miners last two wins, the senior is averaging almost 30 points and 11 rebounds in those latest pair of victories.

Though this team just isn't about one player.

Keitha Adams has a deep and talented 10 to 11 player rotation that features a lineup of dynamic players.

Ten players average more than 10 minutes a game for a team that has scored 70  points or more in 11 of their 12 games this season.

Chrishauna Parker is a very unique and active rebounder at the forward spot, and her offensive game is improving each time out.

Senior Center Krisitine Vitola has been a solid presence on defense, and coach Adams has stressed the need to get her involved on the offensive side.

UTEP was without guard Jenzel Nash who is averaging 11 points a game off the bench, and is one the Miners best perimeter defenders, she was suffering from the flu against Texas Southern, but is expected back against the Aggies.

The return of Kelli Willingham has boosted a back court that has steadily improved with some new faces running the show in her absence, but the experience of one of the most talented front courts in the C-USA has lead the way.

UTEP has been dominate on defense for the majority of the season, Georgia Tech and Belmont, and even Texas Southern have gave the Miners trouble the past few games, though UTEP has the ability to shut teams down with pressure defense.

Adams may come out and use a press or that deadly half-court trap early, the Miners are at their best when defense turns into fast break opportunities for the uber athletic Miners who can really get up and down the floor.

Texas A&M will counter with some dominate defense of their own.

The Aggies come in ranked 18th in nation in defense, and held Prairie View to only 27 points on November 13th.

They have yet to lose on their home court this season with a 6-0 mark, and have won all those games by an average of 28.7 points.

Courtney Williams has been on fire for Texas A&M by matching career highs in points in the Aggies past two wins.

Coach Garly Blair has the Aggies 9-4 on the season, a look at the Aggies schedule will tell of a team who has played solid opponents all year, and will try to hamper the Miners early non-conference run.

This SEC versus C-USA matchup is also is a key game for recruiting in the state of Texas.

Both A&M and UTEP ranked 2nd then 3rd in wins since the 2008-09 season from all the division one programs in great state of Texas.

They also recruit the same hot beds in Texas wet areas like Houston and Dallas, UTEP took one right from under the Aggie eye by signing Houston guard Lulu McKinney whose father is the offensive coordinator the football Aggies.

Huge test for the Miners as they face the best defensive team they will face all season, UTEP will be forced to knock down some threes on the road, while cutting down turnovers as keys to win.  Bracket Buster type game as conference play begins soon, real soon.

Here is how both teams match up statistically.

UTEP Miners

Current Record: 11-1, 0-0 C-USA

Head Coach: Keitha Adams, 217-158 at UTEP

Key Players:

Kayla Thornton, Sr, F, 18.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg

Kristine Vitola, Sr, C, 8.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg

Chrishauna Parker, Jr, F, 8.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg

Team Stats

Points Per Game 81.3
Opponents 61.9
FG% .433
Opponents% .362
3-point% .317
Opponents% .327
Free Throw% .676
Rebounds Per Game 43.6
Rebounding Margin +3.3
Assists Per Game 14.3
Steals Per Game 12.4

Texas A&M Aggies

Current Record: 9-4, 0-0 SEC

Head Coach: Gary Blair, 246-104 at A&M, 654-267 overall

Key Players:

Courtney Walker, So, G, 12.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.1 apg

Courtney Williams, So, F, 11.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg

Karla Gilbert, Sr, C, 9.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg

Team Stats

Points Per Game 69.5
Opponents 55.8
FG% .434
Opponents% .339
3-point% .324
Opponents% .264
Free Throw% .698
Rebounds Per Game 42.9
Rebounding Margin +6.5
Assists Per Game 16.4
Steals Per Game 8.3

Game Info

UTEP Miners at Texas A&M Aggies

Thursday Jan 2nd, 5 PM MDT, College Station, TX

Radio: 1150 AM in El Paso

Make sure to stay tuned to MinerRush for more information on all things UTEP sports, and make sure to Follow@sbnminerrush on Twitter for live updates throughout the game.