Hours removed after a near epic comeback win in Bowling Green, Kentucky, UTEP heads east to face an explosive Marshall team. The Herd have won back-to-back games, but after starting conference play 4-0 they dropped two in a row to UAB and Middle Tennessee before their latest win streak.
Marshall has at least three players who have C-USA MVP potential led by point guard Jon Elmore who ranks 10th in the conference in true shooting percentage according to Ken Pom.
Elmore is a volume scorer who can also get to the free throw line where he is shooting 80 percent on the season. He uses 30 percent of Marshall's offensive possessions, and ranks in the top-50 nationally in assist rate as well.
6'5 forward Ryan Taylor is another high level player Marshall has, averaging 14.9 points, and 8.6 rebounds per game. Taylor is a walking double-double, and has eight double figure rebounding games so far this season.
Another uber talented guard Stevie Browning has scored in double figures in five straight games, and has made eight 3-pointers in his last three games. 36.1 percent of Marshall's points come via the 3-ball, and they also play at one of the fastest tempos in the nation something UTEP has yet to see any resemblances of so far this year.
Sharp shooter Austin Loop is also back and having a stellar senior season. He is shooting 45 percent from 3-point land, and is 11-for-22 in the past two games combined. He's helped the Herd score 90-plus points in their last two wins, including 19 made 3-pointers on 41 attempts against WKU on January 21st.
UTEP played with a number of defensive looks against WKU, which at times were effective, but Marshall will certainly hit a higher percentage from long distance than the Tops.
Matt Willms had a solid game against WKU, pounding the paint for 24 of UTEP's 40 points scored in the paint. Willms will be a key if UTEP decides to drag the pace, and feed the post which is expected.
Staying out of foul trouble is UTEP's key to keeping games close on the road, something they struggled with in the first half against a quick whistle in the WKU game.
KenPom gives UTEP a six percent chance to beat Marshall, and also has the Miners as a 17-point underdogs.
UTEP has taken some important improvement steps over the past month, but haven't faced an efficient, and explosive offensive attack like Marshall's.
UTEP's defensive game plan will be key, utilizing the point zone could be a factor, but again Marshall can outshoot pretty much everything thrown at them as their emphasis is find corner 3's with ball movement.
The biggest weakness UTEP has is the lack of a consistent third or fourth scorer, and that could exposed badly against the high powered Herd.
Have to agree with KenPom on this one, Marshall is playing well right now, and can shoot lights out, while UTEP is still searching for answers.
Marshall by 17….