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Marshall at UTEP Game Preview

Marshall's high octane offense comes into the Don Thursday night.

Coming off three straight losses, UTEP will try to snap out of another losing skid against a resurrecting program in C-USA.

Marshall comes in at 7-2 in conference play and leads C-USA in scoring, coming off a stretch of six straight games in where they have scored 90 or more points.

They also have a C-USA MVP candidate.

6'8 Forward James Kelly leads the conference with 11-double-doubles, and has scored 30-points or more four times this season.

Kelly, teamed up with junior standout Ryan Taylor gives Marshall a top one-two punch in the conference.

Taylor has 25-career double-doubles, and will certainly be the biggest matchup issue UTEP will face on Thursday.

While Taylor and Kelly have provided steady production for the Herd this season, Marshall's guard play has been even better.

The trio of Austin Loop, Jon Elmore, and Stevie Browning seem to really fuel Marshall's high octane offense.

Browning saw his 10-game double figure scoring streak end against UAB in where he was averaging 15 points per game during the stretch. Elmore is averaging five assists per game, and Loop is a dead eye shooter that can drop deadly daggers.

Off the bench 6'4 freshman C.J. Burks provides a constant spark, he's been named C-USA freshman of the week twice this week.

UTEP showed they can slow down a possible potent offensive attack like LA Tech for a few stretches with a newly implemented three-quarter court press.

The Miners were effective in keeping LA Tech's offense outside of the three point line, but LA Tech was able to eventually get going by canning 12 three pointers.

How UTEP goes about defending Marshall will be a main key in this game.

UTEP rebounded well in stretches against LA Tech, but were out rebounded 20-15 in the second half after a strong start, and quick shooting trigger from the Bulldogs.

Marshall will look to run, and guys like Taylor, Kelly, Browning, and Burks can really finish around the rim.

The most positive aspect that came from this past weekend's outings for UTEP was the re-emergence of a dominant Dominic Artis.

Artis got his offense going by getting in the lane, as 10 of his first 13 paints came from inside the paint.

Defensively, Artis was active in UTEP's press, recording four steals by simply contesting passing lanes which lead to points for UTEP in the other direction.

UTEP's biggest issue of late has been turnovers, hurting any chances of a road win.

The Miners have done a better job at home in taking care of the rock, but those droughts fueled by turnovers will bury UTEP against a team that can score like Marshall.

UTEP averaged a turnover per minute in two games last weekend, after having one of the better assist-to-turnover ratios in Conference USA heading into last weekend.

Another big factor shown on Sunday is the fact that this team hasn't gave up.

They reacted well to CTF's game plan, they executed it for 35 minutes or so, and showed steady improvement in a lot of struggling areas.

But the fact remains that inconsistency has been this club's biggest Achilles Heel this year.

UTEP plays four out of their next six and home, and while a regular season title is pretty much out of reach.  The all important top-four finish turns into a consolation for an inconsistent win-loss ratio type of season.

Miner Rush's Opening Line: Marshall -4.5