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Incarnate Word at UTEP Preview/Open Thread

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Will the comfy confines of the Don cure the offensive woes?

Alex Nicolas-www.minerrush.com

UTEP Miners

Current Record: 4-3, 0-0 C-USA

Projected Starters:

C.J. Cooper, Sr, G, 9.1 ppg, 4.2 apg, 10/25 three point shooting

Julian Washburn, Sr, G, 10.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg

Vince Hunter, So, F, 14.9 ppg, 10.3 rpg

Cedrick Lang, Sr, F, 12.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg

Matt Willms, So, C, 4.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg

Quit hits

After starting the season 4-0, UTEP has dropped its last three in disappointing fashion. The Miners held a nine point second half lead on the road against NMSU, but were outscored 31-15 in the last 13:17 to drop their third straight. Vince Hunter has seen his MVP like numbers from the first five games taper off, as the Miners have struggled to find consistency on offense. UTEP is also struggling mightily on the defensive end allowing their opponents to shoot over 40 percent from the field, and from three. In a game like this one, where The Word likes to get up and down, taking care of the basketball has been THE issue, and will be a must mark of improvement against the high scoring Cardinals. Seven Miners have at least eight turnovers or more on the season so far. The Miners made only one out of their first 15 attempts from the field against the Aggies, will the return to the home court help the offensive woes?

Julian Washburn:

"It's still early in the season, we still have a lot of room to improve, I'm not too worried about it. They (NMSU) made tough shots and we didn't respond well. We just have to keep our head forward and just worry about the next game. We still have 25 games left so its still early in the season."

Matt Willms:

"We're just going have to back to the drawing board because we should be winning all these games, and we should still be undefeated, but we have a game Monday so we have to prep for that. I'm starting to feel better, and more confident in myself. I'm not worried about being offensive, I'm trying to be more of a defensive presence because I wasn't early in the season or last year so I'm trying to do a little more of that this year."

Incarnate Word Cardinals

Current Record: 5-0, 0-0 Southland

Projected Starters:

Denzel Livingston, 6'4, So, G, 21.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 15/29 3pt-shooting

Mitchell Badillo, 5'10 Jr, G, 10.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 7.0 apg

Kyle Hittle,6'5. Jr, G, 19.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg

Jontrell Walker, 6'4, Sr, G, 16.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg

Traylin Farris, 6'8, Fr, F, 11.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg

Quick hits

The Word comes into the Don with a spotless 5-0 record, though have only played once since November 24th. The guard heavy Cardinals feature two veteran, play making guards who have been putting up impressive numbers so far this season. Mitchell Badillo runs the point, and is averaging 7.0 assists per game which ranks him 10th nationally. Badillo has also scored in double figures in four straight games. Their best player is Denzel Livingston who has recorded two double-doubles, and ranks 10th nationally in scoring. Livingston is also shooting over 50 percent from three, canning 7 out of his last 15 tries, and went 5/7 from deep in a home win against Huston-Tilloston earlier this season. Despite only having two players taller than 6'8 that see significant minutes, IWU is plus-five on the boards led by junior guard Kyle Hittle. Hittle averages seven rebounds a game, and is an assassin from behind the three point line ranking seventh in school history with 105 made threes in his career, and is 13/19 this season. Hittle missed their last game with injury. Badillo and Livingston both average over five rebounds a game from the guard spots, so it appears IWU crashes the boards with all five. IWU is a great shooting team with a plethora of guards that can score at will, and with the Miners struggles on defense, this game will test the improvement this team needs defensively. UTEP's usual defensive game play of 60X2 will be tested against five Cardinals who average double figure scoring numbers. Truth be told, IWU hasn't played anybody other than Princeton, but still ranks second in the nation in scoring, and also have the second highest three point shooting percentage in the nation. IWU was picked 6th in the preseason in the Southland Conference SID's poll.

A-Rod's opening line: UTEP -8.5

Game Information
Who? Incarnate Word Cardinals vs. UTEP Miners
Date/Time Monday, December 8th, 7:00 p.m. Mountain Time
Location Don Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas
TV/Radio

No TV

Play-by-Play Available on the TuneIn App, or 92.3 FM In El Paso In English, Spanish 1650 AM In El Paso

Series Record First Ever Meeting