Texas-El Paso (14-10) at Southern Miss (20-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 20, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reed Green Coliseum (8,095) -- Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Television: None. Home Record: UTEP 12-2, USM 9-1. Away Record: UTEP 2-5, USM 9-5. Neutral Record: UTEP 0-3, USM 2-0. Conference Record: UTEP 7-4, USM 9-2. Series Record: Texas-El Paso leads, 12-5.
GAME NOTES: Two of the top three teams in the Conference USA are set to collide, as the Texas-El Paso Miners visit Reed Green Coliseum to tangle with the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.
This will be the 18th meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. UTEP holds a 12-5 all-time series edge in its rivalry with USM. In the lone encounter of the 2011-12 season, UTEP defeated the Golden Eagles, 76-68, in a double-overtime thriller at the Don Haskins Center.
Tim Floyd's Miners ended a two-game slide on Saturday as they coasted to a 73-58 victory over UCF at home. UTEP will now try to bolster its unimpressive 2-5 mark in true away games and also its 7-4 record against C-USA rivals. Julian Washburn is the Miners' leading scorer with 12.2 ppg and John Bohannon is the top UTEP player on the glass with 6.2 rebounds per tilt.
The Miners are one of the best defensive teams in the conference with only 62.0 points allowed per game, but they have not seen the same success on the offensive end where they post only 64.4 ppg. Bohannon netted 16 points and Konner Tucker provided 15 on Saturday to push UTEP past UCF. The Miners connected on 52.9 percent of their field goal tries while limiting the Knights to 32.3 percent field goal efficiency to power the win. Washburn chipped in 10 points and McKenzie Moore finished one point and one rebound shy of a double- double.
Donnie Tyndall's Golden Eagles have exceeded expectations in the former Morehead State coach's first year with the program. USM improved to 20-6 on the campaign on Saturday as it outlasted East Carolina to pick up an 86-82 overtime decision in Greenville. Dewayne Davis is the go-to-guy within the Golden Eagles' offense and provides a team-best average of 14.2 ppg with 41.9 percent accuracy from beyond the arc.
USM is fourth in the C-USA in scoring with 74.0 ppg and leads the league defensively with only 60.6 points allowed per outing. The Golden Eagles have won 12 of their last 14 games overall and have been defeated only twice in C- USA action. The Golden Eagles rate second nationally in steals (11.3) behind VCU (12.3). Southern Miss is 11th in scoring margin (+13.5 ppg) and field-goal percentage (.488), and 20th in rebound margin (+6.7 rpg).
Davis pumped in seven of his 23 points in the extra session to lift USM over ECU over the weekend. Although the Pirates hit on 44.3 percent of their field goal tries and exceeded USM's allowed scoring average by nearly 22 points, the Golden Eagles still managed to swipe nine steals and hold a 40-30 edge in rebounding to hang on for the win. Although Davis is the top option, he has plenty of help. Neil Watson and Jonathan Mills scored 17 and 14 points, respectively, and they both corralled eight rebounds.
The homecourt advantage has been very powerful this season for USM. The Golden Eagles are unlikely to fall at home to a team they are better than on both ends of the court. UTEP will need to slow down the pace to make it a low- scoring affair and hope to steal the game at the end.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Miss 70, Texas-El Paso 65
02/20 11:05:16 ET