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Southeastern Louisiana at UTEP Game Preview

NCAA Basketball: Charleston Classic-Texas El Paso vs Mississippi State Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

UTEP returns home for six of their next seven games after the Charleston Classic, and opens the home stand with Southeastern Louisiana from the Southland Conference.

The Lions come into El Paso 3-1 on the young season and venture out of Louisiana for the first time all season.

Wednesday's game against UTEP starts a tough three game road swing that will take them to Colorado State after the UTEP game, then they finish their first road trip of the season in Pac-12 country with California.

6'7 forward Jordan Capps is their leading returner and is off to a nice start this season, but has been absent the past two games.

Capps is shooting 74 percent from the field, and went 11-of-12 from the field in their first win against Millsaps College.

Marlain Veal a 5'9 sophomore guard can be labeled as their most improved player from a season ago. Veal has scored in double-figures in every game this year, and dropped 28 points on Tulane on November 14th in a loss.

Another 6'7 forward, Moses Greenwood is an above average athlete who has collected a pair of point, and rebound double-doubles so far this season.

JUCO transfer, and 6'6 swingman Davon Hayes has been a nice addition for the Lions. He and fellow guard freshman Chris Mejia are the most potent 3-point shooting threats on their roster.

6'10 center Dominic Nelson will be an interesting matchup for Matt Willms and Kelvin Jones in the middle. Nelson is their second leading rebounder behind the absent Capps, and is 8-of-9 from the field to go along with a team leading six blocks, and you figure most of his shot attempts are from around the rim.

Like UTEP, Southeastern Louisiana has had their turnover problems ranking 318th nationally in turnovers coughed up. This can be an area you see UTEP try to exploit early in the game with their pressure.

UTEP will look to build on an encouraging outing in the Charleston Classic with some home cooking in the Don Haskins Center heading into December.

Matt Willms has been a pleasant surprise for UTEP this season. And not only is Matt healthy, he played his best basketball of his UTEP career in Charleston.

Willms is averaging 14 points per game so far, but more importantly has blocked eight shots, and has altered a few more that don't show up on the stat sheet.

UTEP's guard tandem of Dominic Artis, and Omega Harris will be problematic for anyone in the country, but the goal is to find another reliable scorer outside of Harris, Artis, Willms, and Terry Winn.

Winn's status is up in the air after being suspended against Mississippi State on Sunday. Although assistant coach Phil Johnson said it was a one game deal, but you never know what is happening inside the Foster-Stevens Center

UTEP faces two directional schools from Louisiana in their next two home games before a big road trip to face the Lobos of New Mexico.

Wednesday is another step in this team finding their way, and their identities in pre-conference slate.

What we want to see

Take care of the ball

Now into game five, this is an issue that should be cleaned up as it's improved in small increments so far. SLU does have some length and size out on the perimeter, but the Miner guards focus will be on cleaning up the turnovers, and putting up points on the board instead of leaving them on the floor, or giving them away.

Paul Thomas score

We've seen him rebound very well, now it will be great to see Thomas knockdown some of those jumpers on a consistent basis, and dunk on someone's head. Thomas could be an X-factor in UTEP competing at a high level in C-USA play, and this game could give him confidence in the scoring column.

Hold the Lions to under 70 points

UTEP improved with every possession on the defensive end after the Wake Forest disaster. There is slim hope this team can improve defensively, but the pride in doing it against a lesser opponent will be tested on Wednesday.

Prediction

A small hangover from the long Charleston road trip could make things interesting early, but the Miners athleticism could be the difference.

If UTEP takes care of the basketball, they win rather easily. But if taking care of the ball continues to be a struggle, SLU will hang around.

UTEP hits the 80 point mark, and wins by 15.