Through all the adversity the 2013-14 version of UTEP basketball men’s basketball team has faced, nothing compares to the next two to three weeks, four out of their last five on the road in a shoulder to shoulder race for first place in C-USA.
It all starts tonight inside Devlin Fieldhouse in New Orleans as UTEP pays a visit to Tulane at 6:00 PM MT.
UTEP has won the last three meetings with the Green Wave, though this is a totally different Tulane team from last season’s roster.
We no longer have to worry about Josh Davis or Rick Tarrant who are now former Green Wave, but three high scoring guards are something new to worry about.
Freshman Jonathan Stark, sophomore Louis Dabney, and junior Jay Hook all average above 13 points a game, and rank 4th (Dabney), 11th (Stark), and 14th (Hook) in the league in scoring.
Stark plays almost every minute of every contest; he leads C-USA in minutes, and is 17th nationally.
Hook leads the charge in the three point shooting department, firing 46.7 percent from deep, good for second in the C-USA.
Tim Floyd On Tulane:
"Tulane is getting a lot of scoring from their guards. Until 11 games ago they had three guys averaging 20 points a game, which was unprecedented. I don't remember playing against three perimeter players averaging those kinds of points. It has dropped a little bit. But they're very capable and very well coached. We're going to have to try to get the ball inside, but they do such a great job of not allowing that and disrupting that. They're a quality basketball team."
He also owns a pair of game winners back on Feb 7th, and Feb 9th which have helped Tulane win three out of their last four.
Tulane can match UTEP’s height to a point, while they have some guys that on paper that can match up, the stats don’t show much production, but the decent size for Tulane is there.
Tre Drye and Kevin Thomas are the most experienced in the front court, though Drye averages 6.4 points per game with 6.6 rebounds, while Thomas contributes just 2.5 boards a game.
The Green Wave are fourth in the C-USA in three point percentage, meaning the Miners will have defend the perimeter, and own the boards like they have against other three-point happy squads.
How about this nugget..... UTEP is trying for a 6-1 mark in their first seven games on the road for the first time since the 1966 NCAA championship season, great teams win on the road.
As of today, Vince Hunter would rank all-time among UTEP freshman with highs in field goal percentage, and free throw attempts, while ranking fourth overall in rebounding per game average, and fifth in scoring average.
After another freshman funk of games, Vince led UTEP with 21 points in a high energy effort win against FIU. A weird trend this year is when Vince has had a quiet game or two, he goes off in a huge way in the next couple, hope that trend can continue into this weekend.
The definition of improvement, and hard work is in the jumper of Julian Washburn. After totaling a .191 percentage last season, Washburn is sitting at .404 from deep, while also improving his free throw numbers by leaps, and bounds.
Washburn also has scored double figures in seven straight games, one more double figure game, and it will mark the longest double figure scoring streak in his Miner career.
Kudos to Julian for the hard work on his shot, making him the legit number one option on offense when the Miners need a bucket.
"We've been pretty good on the road, some of that has had to do with some good fate and fortune and other teams taking us a little lightly. I don't think that will be the case this late in the year with us being tied for first. We are facing two quality teams in Tulane and Southern Miss. We're going to have to play great."
The most interesting thing in my mind about this one is who will guard who.
Will UTEP go with a smaller lineup to keep at bay match up wise with the amigos at guard for Tulane?
I would expect to maybe see more Jake Flaggert or Tevin Caldwell if the Tulane’s trio starts to go off; Vince Hunter has had trouble with quicker small forwards/guards recently which we will see if Floyd lets him continue to improve that, or go smaller and moving Vince back to the PF spot.
There is going to be a need to get out of the three point line and guard pretty tight at times tonight, we all Floyd will have something in case those guys start dropping.
Per sources, John Bohannon is clear to play this week as far as academics, will Floyd use him is a different story, Bohannon is scoring 13.5 points a game on the road during conference play.
Another regular season farewell to a long time C-USA member, adios Tulane.