The UTEP Miners enjoyed a week off with no games, a chance to rest and prepare for this afternoon's C-USA tilt with UTSA.
After winning eight out of their last nine games, UTEP will look to continue this excellent streak of basketball, looking for their first four game winning streak in conference play since 2012.
Saturday afternoon will mark the sixth overall meeting between UTEP and UTSA, the previous match-up was of course back in 2011 when UTSA shocked the Don with a 73-64 win, UTEP leads the series 4-1.
"We're playing real well right now, most of it is contributed to the defensive end. Got to keep working hard, we have had some real good practices the last couple of days and really excited for this home game. Getting back on defense, moving the ball offensively, just the little things that are going to contribute to theis win. We've all kinda came together, we're playing as team, everyone is real close, we're going to stay together and continue to keep playing ."
The Miners are playing their best ball of the season, while the Roadrunners are at crossing point of their's.
UTSA struggled out of the gates to start, but turned heads around the league with a 2-0 start to the conference slate.
The Miners' traveling partners did the opposite on the road last weekend, and were swept by UAB and Middle Tennessee by a combined 35 points.
Senior point guard Devon Agusi has been on a nice streak in their last five games, averaging 16.6 points per game in that span. He also contributes on the boards, and stuffs the stat sheet only standing six feet tall.
Three players average double figures for UTSA, JUCO transfer Keon Lewis leads the team at 14.2 per, and is an aggressive slashing guard.
He comes off the bench, scoring at least 10 points in ten of his last twelve games.
Hill and Lewis were huge losses, Hill was on our preseason MinerRush All-C-USA team, was really looking forward to finally getting to see him play.
Jones, a red-shirt freshman has come along very nice for the Runners, the 6-6 forward started seeing significant minutes in their six game of the season. He is a force on the boards, flirting with a double-double numerous times since his emergence.
I would expect to see tons of zone from UTSA coach Brooks Thompson, just like every Miner opponent has since the Miners became shorthanded on guards.
UTEP worked exclusively on zone offense during the beginning of Thursday's practice in possible anticipation.
John Bohannon on UTSA:
"They're a talented team, they have two big guys that can play, and a point guard that can also play. There are no pushovers in this league we have to be ready to play and come out with a great effort."
We've all noted the dominate level John Bohannon has played at, he is averaging 10.3 boards in the first four C-USA games, while averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds in the last six games.
The identities formed during the Miners last five wins out of the last six games are to defend like hell, take care of the ball, and fight for every rebound.
C.J. Cooper seemed to take huge step in his growth at the point. The rims haven't been nice to C.J. at the Don so far this season, but I am really excited watch him get after it after last weekend's 79 minutes of pure heart, effort, and high basketball IQ from him.
UTEP Coach Tim Floyd:
"We really haven't done anything other than have two really nice road wins and given ourselves a chance in the league. Our margin of error is small. We've got to play tremendous defense regardless of who we play, and we've got to play really smart to keep guys in games and not foul out because of our lack of depth. But I'm really proud of this team right now, their effort and ability to game plan, to share and the fact they're acting like they like each other. They like coming to work every day.Everybody is playing a position removed, centers are playing power forward, power forwards are playing small forward, small forwards are playing off guard. Even our backup point guard, Aaron Jones, was a two guard at Burges. That's where we are right now. We're in transition. We're learning how to play with each other and it has been fun to work with this group because they're attentive and at this point they have their heads in place. They're not delusional about how difficult this is going to be to fight through this season. There are going to be ups and downs. We have been able to win close games, which is a real credit to our players. Our defense at times has been just tremendous, absolutely tremendous. Our length has been the one thing that we didn't factor in as being a plus in the transition to our new roster. But we're really big at times with Matt Willms at 7-1, John Bohannon at 6-11, Vince Hunter at 6-8 and Julian Washburn at 6-8 on the floor for extended periods of time. We've shown an ability to affect shots and change shots, which has driven down the defensive field goal percentage and allowed us to hang around in games."
Tim Floyd goes for win number 400 in his career, and I hope he has a huge crowd to see it.
And can't forget about the ladies, both UTEP and UTSA will tip off from San Antonio an hour after the men tip off.
The Lady Roadrunners are 11-7 overall, and start out with a 2-3 conference mark, losing by 19 to Middle Tennessee in their last outing.
Kamara King has led them in scoring since she stepped on campus, continuing to do so this year with 14.2 points per game.
Interesting note for UTSA, the 2013 C-USA volleyball player of the year McKenzie Adams has joined the squad.
She dropped 20 points in their January 15th win against Charlotte.
Keitha Adam's Miners are coming off the biggest win in school history, with overtime triumph over Southern Miss on Thursday.
Chrishauna Parker continues her solid season, on the boards, while Kayla Thornton is continuing her run for an All-American bid.
Kelli Willingham has also been on fire from deep for the Miners, who return home Wednesday to face Marshall.
UTSA Roadrunners (6-11, 2-2) at UTEP Miners (13-6, 3-1)
Saturday, 2PM MT, Don Haskins Center
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: 9.23 FM, El Paso,
UTEP Miners (14-4, 3-2) at UTSA Roadrunner (11-7, 2-3)
Saturday, 3:00 PM MT, Convocation Center, San Antonio, TX
Radio: 1150 AM, El Paso