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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: BOK Center (19,199) -- Tulsa, Oklahoma. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Houston 13-4, UTEP 13-3. Away Record: Houston 5-7, UTEP 4-7. Neutral Record: Houston 1-0, UTEP 0-3. Conference Record: Houston 7-9, UTEP 10-6. Series Record: Texas- El Paso leads, 15-10.
GAME NOTES: The sixth-seeded Houston Cougars look to stay hot as they collide with the third-seeded Texas-El Paso Miners in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Tournament at the BOK Center.
Whichever team survives this game will take on the winner of the Southern Miss/UAB game on Friday in the semifinals.
Houston built up some momentum heading into the postseason with three consecutive victories over Marshall, Rice and Tulane in its final three games. It parlayed that success into the C-USA tourney on Thursday with a 72-67 win over Rice, although it nearly blew a 19-point lead as it allowed the Owls to tie it up in the second half. Although inconsistent, James Dickey's Cougars are one of the most explosive teams in the NCAA as they are the ranked seventh among Division I schools with 78.6 ppg and also place in the top 40 in rebounding (29th), assists (35th) and field-goal percentage (38th).
TaShawn Thomas recorded a double-double with a team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds for Houston on Thursday. Danuel House was two-rebounds shy of a double-double with 14 points for the Cougars. With his team down by two and 2:33 to play, House converted a three-point play to give Houston a 68-67 lead and the Cougars never trailed again. Jherrod Stiggers put up 11 points off the bench and Joseph young chipped in 10. Houston made 51.9 percent from the floor and held Rice to a mere 26-of-70 on its field goal attempts.
UTEP owns a 15-10 record versus Houston in the rivalry's history. The Miners lost the only regular-season meeting of 2012-13, 79-61, as the Cougars caught fire against UTEP's usually stingy defense.
Tim Floyd's Miners were extremely tough at home, notching 13 wins in 16 appearances at the Don Haskins Center. However, that will not help them in the tourney as they went 3-7 in true road games and 0-3 in neutral sited bouts. UTEP did manage to build up some momentum with three wins in its last four games and the only loss coming in a heart-breaking, 56-54 setback to Memphis. During their non-conference slate, the Miners took down New Mexico State, Oregon and Nebraska.
UTEP was the third team to collect double-digit conference wins this season as it benefited from the strong play of Julian Washburn (12.0 ppg) and John Bohannon (10.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg). Jacques Streeter does an excellent job engineering the offense as his 3.1 assist-to-turnover ratio indicates. The team's success has led to speculation that Floyd may be destined for the vacancy at USC, but he has work to do in the C-USA first.
The Miners will be out for revenge and could end up cutting down the nets of the BOK Center when it is all said and done. Defense wins championships, but UTEP will need to get there first.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas-El Paso 66, Houston 63
03/14 10:39:12 ET
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