GAME NOTES: The Texas-El Paso Miners face a quick turnaround on Monday as they host the Montana State Bobcats in non-conference action at the Don Haskins Center.
The Bobcats will be out to improve upon a three-game win streak. The string of victories has been helped along by facing a pair of team from outside Division I in Walla Walla and Southwestern Christian. However, they did take down Portland (72-69) on the road in between. Montana State begins league play next against Sacramento State.
It has been just two days since UTEP last stepped onto the court. In Saturday's contest, the Miners hit the road to face Washington State and came away with a 64-51 triumph. The win was the third straight for the Miners, who are beginning a season-long, six-game homestand this evening.
UTEP earned a 103-90 victory over Montana State during the 1968-69 season in the only other meeting between the two programs.
After falling behind 12-6 early on against Southwestern Christian, the Bobcats turned it on and coasted to a 109-79 victory. Montana State shot 62.1 percent from the floor, nailed 13 3-pointers and scored 42 points in the paint during the blowout victory.
Although not expected to hang up 100 every night, the Bobcats are a solid offensive team. They average 75.6 points per game and connecting on nearly 47 percent of their attempts from the floor. Despite scoring at a respectable rate, Montana State doesn't rely on just one scorer. Marcus Colbert (10.5 ppg) and Flavien Davis (10.4 ppg) are the only players averaging in double figures, and doing so just barely. However, the Bobcats have nine contributors putting in more than five points per game. Stephan Holm (5.8 ppg) led the team in scoring last time out with 18 points.
In the first half against Washington State, the Miners held their hosts to just 27.6 percent shooting, including a 1-of-12 showing beyond the arc. They were then able to hold on over the final 20 minutes by sinking 52.6 percent of their total shots and 13-of-16 at the free-throw line.
UTEP has earned a reputation of being a stingy defensive unit. The Miners are allowing only 67.2 points per game and rank among the top-25 teams in the country in opponent field goal percentage (.383). At the other end of the floor, they are netting a modest 71.2 points per game on 46.8 percent shooting. McKenzie Moore (13.9 ppg) leads a trio of double-digit scorers, although none has been overly prolific this season. Moore finished with 15 points and five assists against Washington State. Vince Hunter (10.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg) was the leading scorer in that contest with 15 points. Julian Washburn (10.7 ppg) adds scoring depth.
Montana State has been beating up on some lesser competition of late. Against UTEP, the Bobcats are in for a much tougher test, especially with how well the Miners defend.
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