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UTEP at Rice: Preview/Open Thread

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Quick turnaround, and four hour bus trip lands UTEP in the H to face an upset minded Rice Owls squad.

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UTEP Miners

Current Record: 9-4, 1-0 C-USA

Projected Starters:

C.J. Cooper, Sr, G, 7.5 ppg, 2.2 apg

Earvin Morris, Jr, G, 9.7 ppg, .455 3PT%

Julian Washburn, Sr, G, 9.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg

Vince Hunter, So, F, 16.8 ppg, 10.3 rpg

Cedrick Lang, Sr, F, 10.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg

Team Stats

Points Per Game 71.5
Opponents 64.5
FG% .474
Opponents% .418
3-point% .352
Opponents% .348
Free Throw% .661
Rebounds Per Game 36.2
Rebounding Margin +3.3
Assists Per Game 14.9
Steals Per Game

5.5

Earvin Morris had his most complete game of the season against North Texas, giving UTEP another match up blimp on opponent's scouting reports going forward. Guard play was the best it has been since the NMSU win at home with Omega Harris playing almost flawless in his decision making and shot selection, and C.J. Cooper helping take care of the ball, and efficiently starting the process of breaking down the zone. The most alarming part of the win was UTEP's inability to man up defensively with North Texas in the first ten minutes or so. Like Coach Floyd said about UTEP going with a zone themselves: "I hate to say it, but it really saved us. We couldn't guard." UTEP will face a Rice team that will fire three pointer after three pointer. The Owls average 8.3 three point makes a game with 24.5 attempts a game. Getting a hand out in faces is important in this one, but more so is tracking the long rebounds to not allow Rice a fresh look and 35. If the Miners extend their defensive pressure beyond the perimeter they can take Rice out of their offensive flow, clean defense on the perimeter will be UTEP's main key in putting Rice away. One of the more impressive takeaways from the North Texas win was how the guys responded to coaching. They adjusted to the zone with tenacity, and were patient from the get go despite the slow start on offense. That gene or identity is the most important strength UTEP has shown all year, with CTF and staff calling the shots UTEP will be in every game during conference play.

Rice Owls

Current Record: 4-8, 1-0 C-USA

Projected Starters:

Max Guercy, 5'9, Jr, G, 8.3 ppg, 3.0 apg

Marcus Jackson, 6'3, So, G, 13.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg,

Van Green, 6'3, Sr, G, 4.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg

Seth Gearhart, 6'7, Sr, F, 14.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg

Andrew Drone, 6'10, So, C, 7.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg

Team Stats

Points Per Game 63.4
Opponents 65.2
FG% .402
Opponents% .417
3-point% .336
Opponents% .357
Free Throw% .742
Rebounds Per Game 32.8
Rebounding Margin -1.1
Assists Per Game 12.8
Steals Per Game

6.1

The Owls drilled 11 three pointers, five coming from sophomore guard Marcus Jackson who dropped 27 points in their C-USA opening win against lowly UTSA on Friday night. Seth Gearhart is Rice's leading scorer, and is averaging 15.5 points per game, and 7.3 rebounds in Rice's last four games. Gearhart is an 80 percent free throw shooter making his last ten free throw attempts, Rice leads the C-USA in free throw percentage. The guard orientated Owls have seen Jackson score in double figures in six straight games, and he has made at least two three pointers in five out of their last six. Looking at their field goal percentage, the lack of size has Rice jacking up jumpers ranking 289th in the country as they barely shoot over 40 percent. Though through the last three games, Gearhart, Jackson, and guard Max Guercy have combined for 25/58 mark from behind the three point line. Rice has a little more depth than in past with guards Bishop Mency, Dan Peera, and Van Green providing positive production off the bench this season. Handling UTEP's size as they been outscored in the paint 62-38 in their past two games could the Owls biggest issue in matching up. If Rice can somehow control the boards, and hit dagger after dagger from deep they have a chance, but UTEP has showed resilience in weathering storms, and playing smart in tight spots all year.

Last Five

1/2-Win 67-52 vs. UTSA

12/29-Loss 66-55 @ Texas

12/22-Loss 72-69 OT @ Lamar

12/18-Win 72-61 vs. St. Thomas

12/6-Win 54-49 vs. St. Edwards

Game Information
Who? UTEP Miners at Rice Owls
Date/Time Sunday, January 4th, 1:30 p.m. Mountain Time
Location Tudor Field House, Houston, Texas
TV/Radio

American Sports Network Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 1248 in ELP. Also on DIRECTV channels 164, 640, 674, 681 & 698


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 UTEP leads 17-11