The Texas-El Paso Miners will close the doors on the Don Haskins Center for the season on Tuesday night, as they entertain the 25th-ranked Memphis Tigers in a Conference USA showdown.
With its 76-67 win over UCF this past Saturday, Memphis improved to 25-4 overall and remained perfect in C-USA at 14-0, and with still two games to play it has already clinched its conference-record sixth outright regular- season title. The win over the weekend was also head coach Josh Pastner's 100th at the helm.
After suffering losses in four of five games a few weeks back, UTEP has rebounded well with back-to-back wins, most recently defeating Rice on the road over the weekend, 67-56. The Miners are 16-12 overall and they sit alone in third place with a 9-5 league ledger.
Memphis holds a 9-4 advantage in the all-time series with UTEP, but the Miners have claimed three of the last five encounters.
Down by 10, the Tigers appeared to be in trouble less than six minutes into their recent clash with UCF, but they were able to go into intermission with a five-point lead, and they never surrendered the advantage. Joe Jackson tallied 19 points and seven assists in the triumph, while Chris Crawford was red-hot in a reserve role (7-of-9) as he also poured in 19 points. Adonis Thomas added 12 points to the winning effort. On the season, Memphis ranks in C-USA's top five in both scoring offense (75.2 ppg) and scoring defense (64.4 ppg), outshooting its opponents from the field, .479 to .400. Jackson leads with team with 13.9 ppg and 4.8 apg, and he has an incredible field goal percentage for a 6-foot-1 guard (.534). Thomas (11.7 ppg) and Geron Johnson (10.4 ppg) are the only other double-digit scorers, but Crawford, Tarik Black, Shaq Goodwin and D.J. Stephens (6.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg) all net between 7.3 ppg and 8.7 ppg.
UTEP managed to capture an 11-point road victory over the weekend by shooting 47.2 percent from the field while dominating the paint by outrebounding Rice by a 42-26 margin. Julian Washburn, John Bohannon and C.J. Cooper all tallied 10 points in the triumph, Cedrick Lang narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds, and Jacques Streeter handed out seven assists. The Miners have been able to ascend in the C-USA standings thanks mostly to their impressive defense, which holds opponents to 41 percent field goal efficiency and a league-low 60.6 ppg. The effort at the defensive end helps mask their rather unimpressive offensive attack (63.0 ppg). Washburn scores 11.4 ppg to the lead the club, while Bohannon is hot on his heels with 11.1 ppg (on 59.2 percent accuracy from the field) to go along with 6.5 rpg and 1.7 bpg. Konner Tucker rounds out the double figure scorers with 10.7 ppg on 41.7 percent from beyond the arc.