Texas-El Paso (18-13) vs. Southern Miss (24-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 15, 4 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: BOK Center (19,199) -- Tulsa, Oklahoma. Television: CBS Sports Network. Home Record: UTEP 13-3, USM 12-1. Away Record: UTEP 4-7, USM 9-7. Neutral Record: UTEP 1-3, USM 3-0. Conference Record: UTEP 10-6, USM 12-4. Series Record: Texas-El Paso leads, 12-6.
GAME NOTES: Desperately needing a win to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive, the second-seeded Southern Miss Golden Eagles will square off with the Texas-El Paso Miners in the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament at the BOK Center.
The winner of this game will take on either Memphis or Tulsa in the championship game.
The Golden Eagles took down UAB, 81-66, in the quarterfinals on Thursday to tip-off their postseason slate on the right note. Neil Watson paced the team with 23 points and Dwayne Davis added 20 in the victory, which was the second- straight. Southern Miss shot 53 percent, led 40-26 at halftime and never saw its second-half lead dip below seven points.
Donnie Tyndale's squad played very well during his first season with the program as it defeated the likes of Western Kentucky, Georgia and Denver along with all of its league rivals other than Memphis.
USM defeated UTEP, 45-39, in the only regular-season matchup between the schools during the 2012-13 campaign. Jerrold Brooks scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half as Southern Miss rallied back from a nine-point second-half deficit. The scoring output by both teams set season-lows.
The Miners coasted in their quarterfinal bout with Houston to collect an 80-69 victory. Jacques Streeter scored 13 points and handed out 12 assists, while Konner Tucker and McKenzie Moore added 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the third-seeded UTEP. Tim Floyd's Miners were 0-3 in neutral site games coming into the postseason.
UTEP was the third team to collect double-digit conference wins this season as it benefited from the strong play of Washburn (12.0 ppg) and John Bohannon (10.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg). 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, and his squad's strong showing so far in the tourney certainly isn't hurting his chances of landing the big-time job.
UTEP has scored 76 and 80 points in the last two games with 40 assists during that stretch. On Thursday, The Miners shot 51 percent from the field in an uncharacteristically excellent offensive display. On the season, UTEP averaged only 63.2 ppg on 44.7 percent efficiency from the field.
The Miners are a very tough defensive unit and they will be able to punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament if their potency on the offensive end continues. However, that will be easier said than done in the semifinals as they tangle with a squad that excels on both ends of the floor consistently.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Miss 66, Texas-El Paso 59
03/15 10:32:16 ET