U-A-B (8-13) at Texas-El Paso (10-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 4th, 9:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Don Haskins Center (12,222) -- El Paso, Texas. Television: CSS. Home Record: UAB 5-7, UTEP 8-3. Away Record: UAB 3-6, UTEP 0-8. Neutral Record: UAB 0-0, UTEP 2-1. Conference Record: UAB 3-5, UTEP 3-5. Series Record: Series is tied, 6-6.
GAME NOTES: The Miners of Texas-El Paso return home off a grueling road trip trying to right the ship as the UAB Blazers come to town for a Conference USA battle at the Don Haskins Center.
UTEP's road trip ended in heart-break on Wednesday, as Rice got a last-second jumper from Julian DeBose to fall for a 77-75 victory. The Miners rallied from seven down in the final minutes to set up a back-and-forth sequence that saw Cedrick Lang answer a Rice three-ball with a putback to tie the game at 75- all. It was the second gut-wrenching loss in a row for UTEP, which fell at Houston in overtime last Saturday. The Miners began their trek with a loss to Tulane and remain winless on the road in eight tries this season. Gabriel McCulley paced UTEP with 23 points and 10 rebounds in its latest setback. John Bohannon recorded 18 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks as the Miners fell to 3-5 in C-USA action.
UAB picked up its second win in the last three games with an 80-69 toppling of Houston at home on Wednesday. The Blazers shot out of the gate to score 50 points in the first half on 52.8 percent shooting. That pace cooled somewhat after the break, but UAB's 16-point halftime lead proved to be enough. Cameron Moore went for a game-high 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting and pulled down 13 rebounds. Preston Purifoy and Ovie Soko both collected 15 points with the latter adding 11 boards as UAB improved to 3-5 in league action.
Although the all-time series is tied at six games apiece, the history of the series has been one of streaks for either side. UAB's dramatic 100-97 win in triple overtime at home last season snapped a three-game skid against UTEP. Prior to that, the Blazers had won four in a row in the series. The Miners have a 5-1 advantage at home in the series.
The Miners spread the ball around nicely with both McCulley and Michael Perez at the head of that charge, averaging 12.3 points and 12.2 points per game respectively. Julian Washburn contributes a healthy 11.0 ppg while Bohannon averages 10.8 ppg and a team-leading 7.3 rebounds per game. UTEP is among C- USA's best shooting teams, dropping in 47.6 percent of its field goal attempts to rank second in the league. A big part of that success is owed to Bohannon (.593) and McCulley (.589), who sit second and third in the conference in shooting percentage. However, the Miners are also ranked second from the bottom in the league in field-goal percentage defense, permitting a 43.7 percent clip. UTEP averages 65.4 ppg and gives up 64.1 per contest on those numbers. Despite the efforts of the 6-10 Bohannon, Texas-El Paso ranks second- to-last in C-USA in rebounding with just 30.5 per game.
The Blazers' offense is driven by Moore, whose 16.1 ppg stand second in C-USA. However, UAB has just one other double-digit scorer on the roster in Jordan Swing, who is out indefinitely with a sprained right hand. Consequently, the Blazers are dead last in the conference in scoring at 59.6 ppg and shoot only 42.2 percent from the field. The Blazers are also the only team in C-USA with a negative scoring margin as the defense permits 61.2 ppg and a 41.0 shooting percentage. Soko still plays an important role in the offense, averaging 9.0 ppg and 7.5 boards per contest while Purifoy adds 7.7 ppg. UAB's overall rebounding effort is decent enough at a plus-2.3 margin (34.9-32.5).
The Blazers still have a lot of room for improvement and the loss of Swing really hurts. The Miners will be hungry for a win at home after their winless road trip and should come out firing on all cylinders.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas-El Paso 67, UAB 59
02/04 10:54:30 ET