Texas-El Paso (9-6) at Tulsa (10-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, January 16, 8:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reynolds Center (8,355) -- Tulsa, Oklahoma. Television: None. Home Record: UTEP 8-1. Tulsa 6-1. Away Record: UTEP 1-2, Tulsa 2-4. Neutral Record: UTEP 0-3, Tulsa 2-2. Conference Record: UTEP 2-0, Tulsa 2-1. Series Record: Tulsa leads, 28-17.
GAMES NOTES: The Texas-El Paso Miners roll into the Reynolds Center to face off with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in a Conference USA tilt on Wednesday night.
A 72-44 rout of Houston Baptist on Monday was the third straight win and sixth in the last seven games for UTEP, which is now sporting a 9-6 overall record. Before the win over the Huskies, the Miners had earned victories in each of their first two conference games against Tulane (66-57) and Marshall (74-63).
Tulsa has won three of its last four games after a 64-51 victory over Rice on Saturday. The win allowed the Golden Hurricane to bounce back from a 79-61 loss on the road to Marshall and secure 10 wins for the eighth straight season. There is still work to do for the Golden Hurricane, who are 2-1 in league action, while sporting a strong 6-1 mark at home.
In each of last season's meetings the home team came out on top. The Miners have won five of the last seven meetings, but Tulsa still leads the all-time series, 28-17.
UTEP had no trouble handling Houston Baptist on Monday. The Miners shot at a 44.4 percent clip and outscored the Huskies from both the free-throw line (18-4) and beyond the arc (18-9). The Miners also limited Houston Baptist to just 31.7 percent shooting, while outscoring the Huskies 20-10 on second-chance points.
Although they have done it in each of the last two games. scoring more than 70 points has not been a common occurrence for the Miners. UTEP is just the 10th- best scoring team in C-USA on average (64.6 ppg) despite shooting a respectable 45.5 percent from the field. On the defensive end, the Miners have been effective, allowing just 62 points per game on 41.6 percent shooting. Konner Tucker (13.2 ppg) missed the first seven games of the season but since has return he has been filling it up. He has scored in double figures in seven of the eight games he has played and shot at an even 50 percent from the field. Julian Washburn (13.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and John Bohannon (11.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg) have been the anchors for most of the season.
In its win over Rice, Tulsa shot at a 52.8 percent clip, while limiting the Owls to just 33.3 percent shooting. The Golden Hurricane's defense on the perimeter was weak though, as they were outscored 33-6 from beyond the arc. Tulsa made up for it with a 24-8 edge on points from the free-throw line. Tulsa also outscored the Owls by a massive 32-8 margin in the paint.
Tulsa has really been searching for answers offensively since Rashad Smith (14.5 ppg) was lost just four games into the season with a foot injury. James Woodard (12.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg) has done his best in taking over as the team's top offensive option. The freshman guard has struggled recently, failing to score in double figures in four of his last five games. Patrick Swilling (10.2 ppg) has also been a double-digit scorer this season although he shoots just 37.8 points per game. If Scottie Haralson (9.5 ppg) could improve his shooting (.342 FG percentage) he could also prove to be a reliable option.
The ability of Tulsa to keep its opponents from getting into a rhythm on offense should help the Golden Hurricane earn a victory at home against the overachieving Miners.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Tulsa 68, Texas-El Paso 62
01/16 10:33:53 ET