Texas-El Paso (14-13) at U-C-F (19-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 25th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: UCF Arena (10,000) -- Orlando, Florida. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: UTEP 11-4, UCF 14-1. Away Record: UTEP 1-8, UCF 3-6. Neutral Record: UTEP 2-1, UCF 2-1. Conference Record: UTEP 7-6, UCF 8-5. Series Record: Series is tied, 4-4.
GAME NOTES: The Texas-El Paso Miners try for their season-high fifth straight win tonight when they take on the UCF Knights in a Conference USA clash in Orlando.
UTEP's recent run has shot it up the C-USA standings as it is now tied for sixth place with a 7-6 conference record. The Miners are 14-13 overall and have collected a few impressive non-league wins over New Mexico State, Clemson and Auburn. They are coming off perhaps their two most impressive wins against C-USA front-runners Memphis, and most recently in double-overtime over Southern Miss on Wednesday, 76-68.
UCF is an impressive 19-8 this season, and is just two games out of first place in C-USA with an 8-5 league ledger. The Knights have lost two of their last three games, including an 83-74 verdict versus Rice on Wednesday, but both of those games came on the road. At home, the Knights have been flat-out dominant, losing just once in 15 tries at UCF Arena.
With regard to the all-time series between these two teams, UCF won the last meeting on February 21, 2011, 74-68, to snap a three-game series winning streak by the Miners and knotting things up at 4-4.
Though UTEP managed to shoot an impressive 50 percent from the field in Saturday's double-overtime thriller against Southern Miss, the real story lately has been its defense. The Miners held the Golden Eagles to just 37.5 percent shooting overall and they have given up fewer than 60 points in three of the four games on their current win streak. UTEP had five players score in double figures last time out, led by a career-high 16 points from C.J. Cooper. John Bohannon and Julian Washburn tallied 14 points apiece. The Miners rank just 10th in C-USA in scoring (64.9 ppg), but they sit second in field goal percentage (.470) and have four players averaging double figures in points. Michael Perez (12 ppg) and Washburn (11.2 ppg) are the team's perimeter threats, while Gabriel McCulley (11.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Bohannon (11.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg) provide a strong presence in the paint.
Much like UTEP, UCF's defense has been its calling card this season, as the team is giving up just 62.4 ppg on 41.5 percent field goal efficiency, but it squandered a 12-point halftime lead to Rice and eventually lost by double digits earlier this week. The Knights allowed the Owls to connect on 52.5 percent of their total shots, which negated their own impressive effort (26- of-48). Keith Clanton continued his solid season by scoring 18 points, grabbing seven boards and blocking four shots. Clanton is one of C-USA's best forwards, ranking seventh in scoring (15.1 ppg) and fifth in rebounding (8.7 rpg), while also blocking two shots per contest. Marcus Jordan is also a top-10 scorer (14.7 ppg), but he struggles from the field at just 37.7 percent. Isaiah Sykes brings 12.1 ppg and 6.5 rpg to the table, but he has scored 14 points or more in five of the past six games.
UTEP has been on fire lately and it has been road-tested during this stretch with a solid win at Memphis, but the Knights' success a UCF Arena this season simply cannot be ignored.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UCF 64, Texas-El Paso 61
02/25 10:41:40 ET