GAME NOTES: The Texas-El Paso Miners will attempt to make it three in a row as they head to the FedExForum to battle the Memphis Tigers in a Conference USA matchup.
This will be the 12th meeting in history between the Miners and Tigers. Memphis leads the all-time series 8-3 after each team defeated the other last season. UTEP dominated Memphis, 74-47, on Feb. 26th, 2011 during the regular season before the Tigers got their revenge and earned a 67-66 decision over the Miners in the 2011 Conference USA Championship Game.
Head coach Tim Floyd has his Miners playing very well as of late, as they come in on a two-game winning streak after their 54-52 overtime victory over Tulane last Saturday. The triumph made UTEP 12-13 overall and 5-6 in C-USA action. The Miners were lucky to escape with a victory over the Green Wave, as they converted only 14-of-28 from the free throw line. UTEP is not a very explosive team on the offensive end, as it is ranked 10th in the league in scoring offense with an average of 64.7 ppg. The Miners are holding opponents to an average of 63.1 ppg.
Michael Perez is leading the balanced UTEP attack this season with 12.1 ppg. Perez took a season-high 16 shots his last time out to net 15 points as he led the Miners past Tulane. John Bohannon is a skilled big man for UTEP. Bohannon is contributing 11.3 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game. Bohannon has led the team in rebounding in 16-of-25 games. Gabriel McCulley and Julian Washburn both get into the mix offensively on a regular basis, which gives UTEP more depth than most in the C-USA.
Josh Pastner has guided Memphis to a 19-7 overall record and to a first-place tie in the C-USA standings with a 9-2 mark in league play. The Tigers won their fourth game in a row on Wednesday as they topped the Tulane Green Wave, 82-64, to keep pace with Southern Miss atop the league standings. Memphis struck fear into the rest of the league with its performance against Tulane, as it shot a season-high 61.8 percent from the floor en route to the blowout win. The Tigers will be nearly impossible to beat if they continue to excel offensively, as they lead the C-USA in field goal defense with an allowed rate of 38.8 percent from the floor.
Will Barton is the front runner to win the Conference USA Player of the Year award at the season's end, as he is leading the league in scoring (18.2 ppg) and ranks sixth in rebounding with 8.2 rpg. Barton displayed his talents on Wednesday versus Tulane as he scored 20 points, grabbed nine boards, and handed out seven assists. Joe Jackson, Tarik Black, and Chris Crawford all play vital roles for Memphis as well. Antonio Barton provides a three-point threat for the Tigers as he has drained 43.3 percent from beyond the arc this season.
The Tigers are perfect at home in conference play this season, and have only lost once this year at the FedExForum. Although UTEP has seen an improvement as of late, a second straight regular season win over the Tigers is highly unlikely.