GAME NOTES: The Texas-El Paso Miners seek the season sweep of the Rice Owls when the two squads hit the hardwood for a Conference-USA matchup at the Tudor Fieldhouse.
UTEP is coming off a 63-53 win over Houston. The win dug the Miners out of a two-game slump as UTEP has won just two of its last six outings. After this game the Miners will head home to host the Memphis Tigers before heading to SMU to close out regular season action.
The Owls most recently suffered a 67-55 loss at SMU. It was the seventh consecutive loss for Rice which did not win a single game in the month of February. After this meeting the Owls will take on crosstown rival Houston before hosting Tulsa to end their regular season.
UTEP leads the all-time series 15-11 and took the last meeting by a score of 65-53 less than a month ago.
In the win over Houston, John Bohannon recorded career-highs in both scoring and rebounding with 24 points and 17 rebounds, while also recording four blocks. Cedrick Lang also managed a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Both squads shot well below 40.0 percent from the field but the Miners were able to earn a 40-31 edge on the boards and score 21 points from the free-throw line.
Julian Washburn is the only UTEP player to start all 27 games this season and is the leading scorer for the Miners, posting 11.4 ppg on nearly 35.0 mpg. Bohannon added 11.1 ppg with 6.4 rpg and is the only Miner pulling down over six boards per game. Bohannon shoots a highly efficient 58.3 percent from the floor. UTEP is primarily a defensive unit and holds opponents to 60.8 ppg and just 41.2 percent shooting from the field.
Tamir Jackson supplied 20 points, seven rebounds, and four steals in the loss to the Mustangs but shot just 8-of-26 from the field and 3-of-13 from 3-point range. Max Guercy was the only other Owl to score in double figures with 16 points and four steals. Rice shot just 32.8 percent from the floor, while allowing SMU to hit on 56.8 percent of its shots.
Jackson and Guercy are the only two players averaging in double-figure scoring this season for Rice. Jackson scores 16.4 ppg with a team-high 5.9 rpg but shoots just 37.8 percent from the field and 25.7 percent from beyond the arc. Guercy shoots 43.6 percent from the floor and over 40.0 percent from long- range while tallying 10.2 ppg. The Owls carry a -10.4 scoring margin this season, ranking 332nd out of 345 teams in the nation in that category.
It won't be much of a contest in this one as the Owls have not been able to land in the win column much. As long as the Miners show up and play their game it should be a rather easy win for UTEP.
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