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UTEP at Marshall: Game Preview/Open Thread

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UTEP looks finish their three game road swing in a confidence boosting way with a depleted Marshall team Saturday afternoon.

Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

UTEP Miners

Current Record: 12-6, 4-2 C-USA

Projected Starters:

Omega Harris, Fr, G, 6.7 ppg,

Earvin Morris, Jr, G, 10.7 ppg, .475 FG%

Julian Washburn, Sr, G, 9.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg

Vince Hunter, So, F, 15.9 ppg, 10.2 rpg

Cedrick Lang, Sr, F, 10.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg

Team Stats

Points Per Game 69.6
Opponents 62.2
FG% .473
Opponents% .407
3-point% .351
Opponents% .342
Free Throw% .644
Rebounds Per Game 35.5
Rebounding Margin +2.2
Assists Per Game 14.5
Steals Per Game

5.4

For the third time in the last four seasons, a team Tim Floyd led UTEP team failed to hit a three pointer in a game. I remember hearing Teich talk about a 200 game-plus streak that stretched almost 10 seasons of UTEP hitting a three pointer a few years ago, which I'm sure we all took great pride in. Guard play for the Miners was atrocious and doomed UTEP against WKU, but even a step above the level of guard play that was shown would have been enough to get UTEP a win at Western Kentucky. The positive side of things was the superb defense, and overall effort shown by the Miners who held WKU to under 40 percent shooting for most of the night, although a seven man rotation could be the reason for an 0/17 showing from behind the three point line and some costly mental mistakes in stretches. Matt Willms had one of his best offensive games of the season against WKU, but UTEP still came up empty in five possessions late in the game to either tie or take the lead. One or two shots fall, and we are all in a different mood, but it doesn't take away the fact WKU also won the chess match in the final minutes and in overtime with their own sub patterns. My biggest question is how much longer do we see a seven man rotation? Last year it was forced, but is pulling red-shirts the same as a panic button at this time of the year? UTEP did everything wrong on the road Thursday night, missed layups, missed free throws, not capitalizing on chances with a lead, and fouling a three point shooter at the end of the first half (Sorry Omega). I would expect a pissed off UTEP team that played hard, but came up short due to their own "going full-speed" mistakes to be on a mission to destroy a much weaker Marshall team and get their confidence back. Fun tidbit about this one on the UTEP side, C.J. Cooper, Cedrick Lang and Julian Washburn played their first C-USA game at Marshall a little over three years ago. Washburn started and scored 15 points, while Lang scored six on 3-for-3 shooting off the bench. Cooper did not score, missing all four of his shot attempts. More than free throws, and shots falling, effort and energy are keys to UTEP's bounce back mission Saturday afternoon and are telling things to really watch for.

Marshall Thundering Herd

Current Record: 4-15, 0-6 C-USA

Projected Starters:

Austin Loop, 6'4, So, G, 11.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg

Justin Edmonds, 6'4, Jr, G, 7.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg

Aleska Nikolic, 6'5, Fr, G, 4.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg

Ryan Taylor, 6'5, So, F, 14.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg

Sane Cheikh, 6'9, So, F, 5.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg,

Team Stats

Points Per Game 66.2
Opponents 71.9
FG% .386
Opponents% .425
3-point% .304
Opponents% .322
Free Throw% .640
Rebounds Per Game 38.3
Rebounding Margin -2.2
Assists Per Game 13.5
Steals Per Game

6.7

Trailing by as many as 24 to UTSA, the Herd made a respectable second half rally, but could not over come 36 points from UTSA's Jeromie Hill and fell to the Runners 82-68 at home on Thursday to drop their ninth straight game. Marshall' biggest issue among many from my take is their scoring woes. During their losing skid, they haven't hit 70 points in regulation, and have shot 38.6 percent from the field as a team this season. Led by our preseason #10 overall C-USA Impact Player Ryan Taylor who has been on a personal scoring tear by reaching double figures in every game except one this season. Taylor is a complete package power wing who can shoot, drive, and rebound with all-conference production. He's had five scoring and rebounding double-doubles on the year, including a 15 point, 17 rebound output earlier this season. Guard Austin Loop is another guy who can potentially give you problems with his scoring ability. He maybe the most improved player in the conference no one talks about, this UTEP match-up maybe special to him as was granted a scholarship after last year's meeting in El Paso. The sharp shooting Loop has scored in double figures in seven of his last eight games, and dropped 26 points on Charlotte thanks to five three pointers on January 10th. Loop and Taylor will be CTF's main targets on the defensive end, though UTEP will face a decent rebounding team that will thrive on second chance points if UTEP isn't clean in that area. Marshall is 2-9 all time versus UTEP, with a 1-3 mark at home against the Miners.

A-Rod's opening line: UTEP -15

Game Information
Who? UTEP Miners at Marshall Thundering Herd
Date/Time Saturday, January 24th, 1:00 p.m. Mountain Time
Location Cam Henderson Center, Huntington, West Virginia
TV/Radio

American Sports Network, K-FOX-TV El Paso, Link to Sinclair/American Sports Network Channel Finder outside of El Paso

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

Series Record UTEP leads 9-2