The UTEP men will try to extend their season long winning streak Saturday night in Norfolk, Virginia against Old Dominion in a match up of historic mid-major college basketball programs.
Old Dominion, a year removed from a 5-25 season, have been quite a nice surprise addition to the new look C-USA.
Despite not having a player over 6'7 record a minute, the Monarchs are +2.3 on the boards, and hold their opponents to only 65.2 points a game good for a 3rd place rank in the C-USA.
Aaron Bacote is one of best players in C-USA most fans have not heard of.
The 6'4 sophomore guard leads ODU in points per game, shoots decently efficient from behind the three point line.
He is also a very good defender, and brings three boards and three dimes a game.
ODU uses a three guard lineup, with Keenan Palmore and Jordan Baker as some of their top ball handlers.
Another solid guard is Dimirti Batten who matched his career high of 25 points earlier in the season, and brings 11 points and 4 rebounds a game.
Tim Floyd on Old Dominion
"Their coach has done a great job. They've had a tremendous turnaround from a year ago, playing basically the same players, they are very well coached and run a lot of good offenses. They will throw a million plays at you. They're going to play mostly man defense, but they execute it really well. Bacote is a great athlete. He's an all-league player, he can play for anybody. He's a big-time three-point shooter. He can drive it and he leads the league in free throw attempts. He can play for Duke or North Carolina. He's that good."
ODU shoots double the three balls the Miners do with four different guards, Bacote, Batten, Ambrose Mosley, and Jordan Baker. If ODU gets good ball movement they could create some match up problems, though Floyd has not let that be a factor so far against smaller teams. UTEP will tower over everyone in the conference, Floyd has turned disadvantage into advantage with size, and top-25 level defense.
ECU had a terrible game plan for the Miners, which led to UTEP dominating the glass against the smaller, big man deficient Pirates.
Tim Floyd's group posted the largest rebounding margin against a C-USA opponent since UTEP joined, with a 37-16 advantage on the glass, and most widest margin overall since 2007.
Cedrick Lang was the player of the game against ECU in my book. The dirty work Ced does off the bench has been the reason the Miners have been to able to keep teams at bay, earning UTEP a +6.1 scoring margin in league play with his tough rebounding, and against Rice he was able to help bring them back with nine boards.
Offensively the Miners have been picking zones apart in the paint, shooting over 50 percent in three out of the last four C-USA games.
C.J. Cooper has hit three or more treys in five straight games, while averaging 16.2 points per game in that span, further refining his point guard play to an All-Conference level, watch out Neil Watson.
Coop has been done an exceptional job at creating for others, and still being able to find his shot as the main ball handler. C.J. has canned a three pointer in nine straight games, no question he has been a main cog in this streak, and will continue to impress us all.
Moving to the two guard has opened up Julian Washburn's offensive game to a consistent 15 point a night type of scorer.
Julian's shooting numbers were slanted with him shooting some shot clock buzzer beaters against ECU. He has been super efficient, and as always shut down one the leagues most talented scorers in a matter of seconds once the switch was made.
Floyd on Washburn
" Washburn is the best defender that I have coached in 38 years, college or pro, in this game. He can guard ones, twos or threes. His feet are there, the willingness is there, the length is there and the intelligence is there."
Every road win from here on out may snap some type of streak, as the Miners look to go 5-1 on the road for the first time since the 1983-84 season.
UTEP is 6-0 with the starting lineup of C.J. Cooper, Julian Washburn, Vince Hunter, John Bohannon, and Matt Wilms.
The seven game win streak is the longest streak with Floyd roaming the Miner sidelines, who has my vote for coach of the year, well if I had one that is.
Around the same time the men finish up, the UTEP women will tip off against FIU and the two time All-American Jerica Coley.
FIU stands at 11-10 overall, and 3-2 in the C-USA, though they have won three straight.
Coley is the definition of a baller. She leads the nation in scoring at 30.3 points, she also has her own website already. She also adds six rebounds per contest
Kayla Thornton should have her own website as well, she earned back-to-back C-USA players of the week this Monday, and this one will be a match up between player of the year candidates.
The Miners used a 17-5 run late in the first half to run away from a pesky three-point shooting LA Tech on Wednesday, winning 85-75.
Freshman Sparkle Taylor scored 15 points, Thornton scored 22 and grabbed 11 rebounds, Kristine Vitola added 23, and 10 leading to their fifth straight win.
The RPI is sitting at 49, and with this current streak, the Miners look to be a tough out for anyone the rest of the conference schedule.
El Pasoan Stacie Telles has really came on as of late at the point guard spot, giving UTEP a tough duo at point guard with Senior Kelli Willingham.
Full evening of UTEP hoops, enjoy two of the hottest team in both women and C-USA basketball!
UTEP Miners (17-6, 7-1) at Old Dominion (11-12, 5-3)
5:00 PM MT Constant Center, Norfolk, VA
Florida International Golden Panthers (11-10, 5-3) at UTEP Miners (18-4, 7-2)
7:05 PM MT Don Haskins Center