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UTEP at Louisiana Tech: Q&A with Jason Jones

SB Nation's resident LA Tech writer gives a look at the UTEP-LA Tech matchup.

Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

MinerRush: Since the last time LA Tech and UTEP played, it seems the LA Tech bench has been more productive, who is or has been the x-factor off the bench?

Jason Jones: Freshman Xavian Stapleton scored 13 points in 4 minutes against FIU, the 6'6 wing is an athletic shot blocker and finisher - and now he is starting to knock down the outside shot.

MinerRush: How important is winning the turnover margin for the 'Dogs?

Jason Jones: They don't need to just win it, they have to force over 15 to have a chance. They only had 3 at halftime against ODU and never got in striking distance.

MinerRush: LA Tech has the 26 game home winning streak on the the line, what makes the TAC a difficult place to play?

Jason Jones: It's hard to get to for one thing. Going back to the WAC days and now in C-USA, it's a long trip to Ruston. Also, attendance has been up over the last 2-3 years. 3,500 to 4,500 fans actually sound really loud in the TAC. Before Coach White came, attendance was basically half.

MinerRush: Was there anything specific you saw Charlotte or ODU do in frustrating Speedy Smith?

Jason Jones: I think both team's ability to break the press frustrated the Bulldogs in general. Pierria Henry is the second best point guard in C-USA and ODU has a few good guards. If Tech's pressure isn't effective, it's really hard for them to win.

MinerRush: What has UTEP been doing during their win streak that should be LA Tech's main concern?

Jason Jones: Last four wins, UTEP has shot better than 44% from the field. The Miners are so efficient in the half court, the Bulldogs can't afford to play a grind it out game with them.

MinerRush: How do you see the C-USA regular season race playing out in these next two weeks?

Jason Jones: It comes down to this game. Tech should win since its at home and they will be motivated following the loss to ODU. If ODU knocks off WKU, and I think they will, it should be Tech, UTEP, UAB, ODU, and WKU as seeds 1-5. MTSU has an outside chance to move up to the 5th seed. 

MinerRush: Attendance and game prediction.

Jason Jones: I'm guessing 61-56 Bulldogs with 4,350 in attendance. Should be another defensive battle and the crowd will be decent (not great) considering its a Thursday.