Texas-El Paso (10-7) at East Carolina (12-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 26, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Minges Coliseum (8,000) -- Greenville, North Carolina. Television: WITN. Home Record: UTEP 9-1, ECU 10-1. Away Record: UTEP 1-3, ECU 2-5. Neutral Record: UTEP 0-3, ECU 0-0. Conference Record: UTEP 3-1, ECU 3-2. Series Record: UTEP leads, 5-2.
GAME NOTES: The East Carolina Pirates attempt to string back-to-back wins together on Saturday when they welcome Texas-El Paso for a Conference USA bout at Minges Coliseum.
East Carolina bounced back from an ugly loss to Marshall in its previous game to beat UAB, 91-85, for its 1,000th win in school history. Ty Armstrong had a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead six players in double figures, as the Pirates won for the third time in their last four tries.
Maurice Kemp added 17 points, Miguel Paul had 12 points and a career-high 14 assists, Akeem Richmond chipped in 12 points off the bench and Robert Sampson contributed 10 points for East Carolina, which had managed a mere 56 points in its loss to Marshall last Saturday.
UTEP, meanwhile, will also be trying to stay in the win column, as it rebounded from a loss to Tulsa to get past SMU, 63-54. Jacques Streeter led all scorers with 18 points, while Konner Tucker added 12 points for the Miners, who have won four of their last five.
El Paso holds a 5-2 all-time edge in the series after beating the Pirates last season.
The Pirates are the highest scoring team in the conference (78.2 ppg). That scoring average is also among the top 25 marks in the country as well. Ball movement has been the key for East Carolina which has handed out the seventh- most assists nationally (17.5 pg). Kemp (17.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.4 apg) is the leading scorer in the conference and the top option for the Pirates. The 6- foot-8 forward is also a more than capable rebounder and a solid passer out of the frontcourt. Paul (12.8 ppg, 6.2 apg) has led the team's impressive distribution efforts as the second leading assist-man in the conference.
The Miners shot 54.5 percent in the first half in the win over SMU, including 70 percent (7-for-10) from three-point territory. Streeter was the driving force, as he nailed all five of his shots from beyond the arc. He didn't take a shot in the second half, but went to the line twice to cap his best performance while at the school.
Whereas the Pirates do not have a potent outside shooting presence, the Miners can lean on Tucker (12.6 ppg), who is shooting at a marksman-like 51.1-percent clip from beyond the arc (26-of-51) in 10 games since returning from a broken hand. Julian Washburn is next in line with 12.2 ppg, followed by John Bohannon, who is shooting a team-best 60 percent from the floor while averaging 10.4 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds. However, after eclipsing 70 points in each of their previous two outings, the Miners have averaged 52.5 ppg in their last two times outings.
Neither of these teams are going to challenge for a C-USA title this season, but it should be an entertaining matchup anyway. Provided the Pirates can slow down Tucker, they should emerge with a home win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: East Carolina 74, UTEP 63
01/26 10:43:26 ET