FACTS & STATS: Site: Don Haskins Center (12,000) -- El Paso, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: UCF 13-3, UTEP 11-2. Away Record: UCF 4-4, UTEP 2-5. Neutral Record: UCF 0-0, UTEP 0-3. Conference Record: UCF 7-3, UTEP 6-4. Series Record: UCF leads, 5-4.
GAME NOTES: The UCF Knights will be looking back as they visit the Don Haskins Center to tangle with the Texas-El Paso Miners in Conference USA action.
This will be the final regular season meeting between these schools as Conference USA foes as UCF is migrating to the greener pastures of the Big East in 2013-14. The Knights hold a 5-4 edge in the all-time series after their 63-45 win over the Miners on Feb. 25, 2012.
UCF was unable to keep up with Memphis' run and gun offense on Wednesday as they dropped a 93-71 decision to the Tigers at FedExForum. Donnie Jones's squad fell to 17-7 on the season with the loss, and although it is in third place in the C-USA standings, its season is nearing its end due to its postseason ineligibility, courtesy of an NCAA sanction. Keith Clanton is pacing the Knights with 15.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per tilt
Junior guard Isaiah Sykes (15.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 4.5 apg) is the only player in the country with more than one triple-double this season and one of only six players to have one all year. The 6-foot-5 guard has been extremely versatile, ranking among the top 10 scorers, rebounders and distributors in the conference along with a league-best 2.0 steals per game. Sykes scored a team- high 17 points in the loss to Memphis, but he was also guilty of half of the team's 18 turnovers. UCF went just 13-of-25 at the charity stripe to mark the fifth- straight it shot below 70 percent at the free-throw line. UCF leads C- USA in three-point field-goal percentage defense (.313). The Knights are second in blocked shots (4.8), and third in field-goal percentage (.472) and 3-pointers made per game (7.0).
Tim Floyd's Miners would be the No. 3 seed in the conference tourney if they started right now by default after sustaining back-to-back losses to Tulsa and Houston. UTEP fell to the Cougars, 79-61, after allowing Houston to go 9-of-13 from 3-point range while being outrebounded, 36-22. Julian Washburn paced the squad with 17 points and six boards. John Bohannon provided 11 points and Konner Tucker netted 10.
UTEP has allowed its last two opponents to net 74 and 79 points, while shooting a combined 49.5 percent from the field and 57.7 percent from beyond the arc. The first 21 opponents of the Miners managed just 60.8 ppg on 41.5 percent field-goal efficiency. Washburn spearheads the offensive attack with 12.3 ppg, while Tucker (11.8 ppg) and Bohannon (10.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.8 bpg) also contribute double-digit scoring averages. Jacques Streeter is proving himself to be a steady floor general with 5.2 assists to 1.7 turnovers per game.
The Knights were no match for Memphis, but that makes them no different than any other C-USA program. UCF is still a top three team in the league while the Miners have been inconsistently playing at that same level. UTEP racked up some notable victories at home over New Mexico State, Oregon, and Nebraska, but the homecourt edge was non-existent on Feb. 9 against Tulsa. UCF should be able to recover from its loss to the Tigers due to its superior backcourt.