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UTSA at UTEP Game Preview

UTEP looks to gain some momentum heading into Birmingham.

There are only two Conference USA Tournament seeding scenarios on the line for UTEP when the Miners hook up with UTSA Saturday afternoon.

A win and a Charlotte loss gives UTEP the 6th seed, a loss to UTSA and UTEP falls to the 7th spot, and a win by Charlotte no matter the UTEP outcome guarantees UTEP a 7th seed for the next week's C-USA Tournament.

It's certainly been an up and down season, but UTEP can salvage some momentum heading into the postseason with a comfortable win Saturday afternoon.

Coming off back-to-back losses last weekend, UTEP will look for improved offensive guard play at home after a rough road trip last weekend for UTEP's backcourt.

UTEP's top four scorers -- Lee Moore, Omega Harris, Dominic Artis and Earvin Morris -- have combined for an assist/turnover ratio of 2.25 (227-101) in home games this season.  Away from El Paso, their collective assist/turnover ratio is 1.24 (136-110).

Talking to Hooper Vint earlier in the week, he said the team's confidence is not shot after back-to-back losses, and the Miners know what needs to get done over the next week of important games.

UTEP could benefit from UTSA's porous defensive averages, teams are shooting over 50 percent from the field against the Runners and UTSA is allowing 84.5 points per game this season.

Scoring might be easy for UTEP Saturday afternoon, but slowing down UTSA could become a huge issue.

Christian Wilson might be the most productive guard in C-USA over the past month or so that no one is talking about.

Wilson has scored in double figures in 16 straight games, averaging 19.9 points per game during that stretch.

UTSA seemed to abandon their offense in the first meeting with UTEP, and allowed Wilson to torch Miner defenders with an attacking pick-and-roll, and straight isolation in where Wilson got anything he wanted from around the rim.

Senior guard Ryan Bowie does it all for the Runners.  He leads UTSA in scoring, and rebounding, and is a key factor when he heats up from long distance.

Bowie scored at least 20-points in six straight games before he struggled to reach double figures against Old Dominion last weekend.

UTEP's 60X2 defensive principle will focus on Bowie, and Wilson, but J.R. Harris is no slouch.

Harris is 10-for-22 from 3-point land in his last two games, and reached double figures in the first matchup in San Antonio.  He brings the athletic energy that can change a game, and is averaging just under 12 points per game on the season.

Matching up the frontcourt, UTEP has a big edge, but just like the first matchup, guard play will dictate the outcome.

Terry Winn is 20-of-25 from the field over the past four games, and will be factor for the Miners, but staying out of foul trouble will be key for UTEP's Freshman All C-USA team candidate.

It is senior night/day, and the last time (Maybe?) we will see Hooper Vint, Tevin Caldwell, Victor Mbachu and Earvin Morris suit up in the Don as Miners.

In a season with so many ups and downs, UTEP can end the regular season on a high note, while gaining revenge, and build some confidence before the ultimate season test next week.

UTEP's Keys to Victory

  • Make life difficult for Bowie and Wilson
  • +5 on the boards
  • Get to the free throw line, and make them.
  • A big scoring game from a guard

Who has the edge?

Guards: Even

Frontcourt: UTEP

Shooting: Even

Rebounding: UTEP

Defense: UTEP

Intangibles: UTEP

Miner Rush's Opening Line: UTEP -12.5