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Rice (5-16) at Texas-El Paso (12-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 6, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Don Haskins Center (12,000) -- El Paso, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: Rice 5-7. UTEP 10-1. Away Record: Rice 0-6, UTEP 2-4. Neutral Record: Rice 0-3, UTEP 0-3. Conference Record: Rice 1-6, UTEP 5-2. Series Record: UTEP leads, 14-11.
GAMES NOTES: In a Lone Star State matchup the Rice Owls square off with the Texas-El Paso Miners in a Conference USA showdown at the Don Haskins Center on Wednesday night.
Just a few days after capturing their first conference win of the season, Rice was downed yet again against East Carolina, 79-63, last time out. Rice is now just 5-16 overall this season while tied with UAB for last in the conference standings with a mark of 1-6 against league foes. Rice has yet to earn a win anywhere other than Tudor Fieldhouse as it is a combined 0-9 in both road and neutral site affairs.
UTEP bounced back from a tough overtime loss to UAB by earning a 62-50 win against Tulane to open this three-game homestand on Saturday. The win improved UTEP to 12-8 overall on the season and to 5-2 in league play. The Miners' conference record has it tied with UCF for third in the C-USA.
This will mark the 26th meeting between these intrastate foes. Rice has won each of the last two after UTEP win five straight. The Miners have the edge in the series overall with 14 wins against the Owls.
Rice got a first-hand look at just how dominant C-USA-leading scorer Maurice Kemp can be against East CArolina. En route to the 16-point loss the Owls had no answers for Kemp who poured in 33 points on 10-of-15 shooting. It wasn't just Kemp who was hot from the field though as the Owls were scorched by a 57.4 percent shooting effort from the Pirates.
Rice has been one of the worst teams in the conference on both ends of the floor, ranked dead last in the league in points per game (61), while managing to shoot at just the second worst percentage from the floor (.407). On the defensive end the Owls let up nearly 70 points per game on 48.3 percent shooting. Rice is also extremely weak on the boards pulling in a national- worst 25.3 rebounds per game, suffering a -12.3 margin on the boards. Tamir Jackson (16.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg) serves as the team's only real scoring or rebounding threat out of the backcourt. Outside of Jackson, Julian DeBose (9.9 ppg) and Max Guercy (9.7 ppg) provide support, albeit with modest numbers.
UTEP played well as a unit on the offensive end and produced enough stops on defense to knock off Tulane. The Miners shot 48.9 percent from the field and assisted on 18 of their 23 field goals, while limiting the Green Wave to just 40.4 percent shooting. UTEP also outscored Tulane 18-6 from beyond the arc.
Strong defense has been the driving force for UTEP. The Miners are allowing just 61.2 points per game while teams shoot at a 41.5 percent rate from the field this season. That has largely helped the Miners overcome their less than stellar offensive production as they rank ahead of only the Owls in scoring (63.8 ppg) among conference teams. The Miners are also only better than Rice in rebounding (31.5 pg) in comparison to the rest of the conference. Julian Washburn (12.2 ppg) and Konner Tucker (11.9 ppg) are the top two scoring options on the squad. John Bohannon (10.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.8 bpg) has provided a nice third option in the frontcourt, while cleaning the glass and protecting the rim better than any other player on the roster.
This game isn't likely to be filled with offensive highlights. That being said UTEP is built to win low-scoring affairs. Although the Miners have not been stellar offensively they have still been far better than the Owls.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas-El Paso 67, Rice 59
02/06 10:36:17 ET
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