Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-10) at Texas-El Paso (6-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, December 29th, 7:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Don Haskins Center (12,000) -- El Paso, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: UAPB 0-0, UTEP 4-3. Away Record: UAPB 0-7, UTEP 0-3. Neutral Record: UAPB 1-3, UTEP 2-1. Conference Record: UAPB 0-0, UTEP 0-0. Series Record: Texas-El Paso leads, 6-0.
GAME NOTES: Despite being the hosts for the annual Sun Bowl Invitational, the Miners of Texas-El Paso find themselves in the consolation game of the event, pitted against the Golden Lions of Arkansas-Pine Bluff at the Don Haskins Center tonight.
The Miners have had some serious trouble trying to get up for games against quality opponents this season and Wednesday was no exception as the team scored just 53 points in a three-point loss to Colorado State in the opening round of the tourney. The defeat was the second in the last three games for the Miners who are now a game under .500 overall on the campaign.
UTEP, which has won the title in this event 28 times, has a record of 76-23 in the tourney overall.
As for the Golden Lions, members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, they lost their eighth straight game last night and the 10th in 11 tries on the season overall as they absorbed a 78-55 setback versus Jacksonville State. At this point UAPB has just a single win to shot for its efforts, a narrow 58-56 triumph over Florida International back in November during a tournament game in Oklahoma.
Last season these teams also met here in El Paso, with the hosts cranking out a 77-54 victory over the Golden Lions. As a result, the Miners have now taken all six of the previous encounters between the teams and done so by an average of more than 28 ppg.
Savalace Townsend played all 40 minutes for the Golden Lions last night in the loss to Jacksonville State and in doing so he generate some strong stats from his team-best 18 points to 10 rebounds and seven assists, all of which paced the team in the loss. Also scoring in double figures for UAPB were Daniel Broughton and Mitchell Anderson who recorded 14 and 11 points, respectively, although the latter shot just 5-of-15 from the floor along the way and was responsible for three of the team's 19 turnovers. The Golden Lions shot just 38.0 percent from the field, 4-of-12 beyond the arc and 13-of-26 at the free- throw line. Through 11 games the team is scoring just 54.3 ppg due to the fact that the Lions are making a collective 38.0 percent from the field and a mere 29.4 percent out on the perimeter. Townsend is responsible for 18.0 ppg which is easily the top mark for UAPB, considering it is almost one-third of the unit's total production.
The offense was difficult to find for the Miners on Wednesday night as the team made just nine field goals in the first half and eight in the second, but at least the team made five of those second-half conversions from behind the three-point line in order to make things interesting. Gabriel McCulley tallied 13 points as he sank all but one of his seven shots, while C.J. Cooper followed up with 11 points off the bench on the strength of his 3-of-6 shooting beyond the arc. Michael Perez somehow arrived at 10 points even though he made just 2-of-9 shots from the floor. Perez, a 40.8 percent shooter from behind the three-point line so far this season, accounts for 12.2 ppg which leads the Miners, while McCulley drops in 11.1 ppg as he too has shown an ability to convert long-distance chances (.462). The Miners are permitting just 63.3 ppg this season, but at the same time the team is generating only 64.1 ppg which doesn't leave much wiggle room as the Rams proved last night.
Even though the Miners won't be playing for the title in their own tournament tonight, they are almost assured a victory against the struggling Golden Lions.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas-El Paso 68, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 55
12/29 10:35:17 ET