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Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics

H-P Sports In Depth: Miners Hit the Road to take on LA Tech

UTEP (6-16, 3-7 C-USA) will take aim at a season series sweep when it plays at LA Tech (11-11, 6-5 C-USA) at 5:30 p.m. MST/6:30 p.m. CST Thursday. The Miners defeated the Lady Techsters, 69-62, in El Paso on Jan. 5.

The tilt continues a four-game conference road trip- its longest in 11 years– with UTEP also slated to play at Southern Miss at 3 p.m. MST/4 p.m. CST Saturday. The Miners are also in the midst of seven of nine road tilts.

The last time the Miners had four straight league road tilts was in 2005-06, their first year in C-USA. LA Tech is 6-5 at home (3-2 C-USA). UTEP is 1-5 on the road (1-4 C-USA).

LA Tech snapped a two-game losing streak with a 72-54 victory at Marshall on Feb. 4. UTEP is looking to avoid its first three-game C-USA slide of the year. The Miners are 2-0 in 2017 league games when entering the contest having sustained consecutive losses. The wins were at FAU (51-50, 1/14) and home against Marshall (W, 84-74, 1/28).

Brandon Cohn will have the call on 600 ESPN El Paso, KROD-AM Radio. Fans can also stay up-to-date by following the Miners (@UTEPWBB) or Lady Techsters (@LATechWBB) on Twitter.

UTEP vs LA Tech: In Depth

–  The Miners fell at UAB (L, 74-61, 2/2) and Middle Tennessee (L, 76-53, 2/4) but the games were more competitive than the scores indicate. UTEP trailed by three late in the first half at UAB while facing a five-point deficit midway through the third quarter at Middle Tennessee. Big runs in each games doomed the Miners.

–  In 10 C-USA games the Miners and their opponents are comparable for field-goal percentage (UTEP 41.3, Opp. 41.7 percent), field goals made (UTEP 255; Opp. 263) and attempted (UTEP 618; Opp. 631), rebounds/game (UTEP 39.3; Opp. 40.0), assists/game (both at 14.2) and fouls/game (UTEP 19.4, Opp. 18.4), yet UTEP has a -7.0 (68.4-75.4) scoring margin. The reason?  Foes have scored 34 more points on free throws (UTEP 129-192, 67.2 percent Opp; 163-220, 74.1 percent) and 60 more points on three pointers (UTEP 45-150, 30.0 percent; Opp. 65-190, 34.2 percent). That adds up to a -94 differential for the Miners between free throws in triples in C-USA play.

–  In league play the specialty stats points per game are pretty similar for points in the paint (UTEP 29.8; Opp. 30.6), bench production (UTEP 19.1; Opp. 18.3), second-chance (UTEP 10.7; Opp. 9.7), and fastbreak (UTEP 6.3; Opp. 6.4). An area of concern is points off turnovers/game (UTEP 13.7; Opp. 18.3).

–  UTEP is hitting 44.9 percent (210-468) of its two-point shots in league play; foes are at 48.2 percent (198-411).

THIS AND THAT ON CONFERENCE USA

–  Teams play all 13 members at least once and face five teams in home-and-home for 18-game C-USA slate.

–  The top 12 teams (14 in C-USA) will qualify for the single-elimination tournament (March 8-11, Birmingham, Ala.-UAB) with the top four teams as seeded by regular season standings receiving a bye. The winner will gain the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.

–  Charlotte, Middle Tennessee and WKU share first place at 9-2 with UTSA (7-3) alone in fourth. ODU (7-4) is fifth with Southern Miss and LA Tech tied for sixth at 6-5. The remaining seven squads are below .500.

–  North Texas (4-6) sits in eighth with Marshall and UAB tied for ninth at 4-7.

–  FIU, UTEP and Rice are in a three-way tie for 11th at 3-7 while FAU (0-10) rounds out the standings.

INSIDE THE SERIES

–  Louisiana Tech leads the series, 10-6, but UTEP has won four straight and six of the past seven.

–  UTEP downed LA Tech, 69-62, on Jan. 5 at the Don Haskins Center in this year’s first meeting.

–  LA Tech claimed the first nine meetings between the programs, when both programs played in the WAC

–  The Miners won for the first time in five trips to Ruston last year with a 72-65 outcome  (2/20/17).

GETTING TO KNOW LA Tech

Overall: 11-11               Home: 6-5   Road: 5-6    Neutral: 0-0 | C-USA: 6-5  Home: 3-2   Road: 3-3

–  Louisiana Tech is one of eight programs in NCAA history with at least 1,000 wins (1,084-second all time). It has participated in 27 NCAA Tournaments (fifth most), 13 Final fours (third most), eight national championship games and won three national titles.

–  All time home record of 533-79, including 449-73 in the Thomas Assembly Center.

–  Record of 6-5 in Ruston this season, including 3-2 in league play. Aiding that mark was a 80-54 dismantling of Charlotte (currently in three-way tie for first place) on Jan. 12.

–  LA Tech returned seven letter winners, including two starters, from last year’s team (14-16, 9-9 C-USA).

–  Got off to a start of 5-3 on the year before dropping three straight to conclude non-league play at 5-6.

–  Stumbled early in C-USA (1-2) before winning four of the next five. Momentum halted with consecutive setbacks to first-place Middle Tennessee and WKU.

–  Bounced back with a resounding 72-54 win at Marshall last time out on Feb. 4.

–  Six players contributing at least 7.5 points/game, including three averaging double digits.

–  Lead C-USA in both field-goal percentage (44.5) and field goal percentage defense (37.3). Also among the upper echelon in the league for 3-pt defense (29.4-2nd), rebound margin (+3.8-3rd), free-throw percentage (69.5-5th), rebounds/game (39.3-5th), assists/game (15.0-6th), blocks/game (3.3-6th), steals/game (7.8-6th), scoring offense (68.6-7th), scoring defense (64.4-7th), scoring margin (+4.2-7th) and 3-point field-goal percentage (32.3-7th).

–  Boast top-100 NCAA rankings for field-goal percentage (34th) and field-goal percentage defense (68th)

3-pt defense (82nd), rebound margin (82nd) and assists/game (89th).

–  Individually Kierra Anthony is 1st in 3-pt percentage (47.1) and 14th in scoring (13.6).

–  Jasmine LeBlanc 2nd in defensive boards/game (6.2), 3rd in rebounds (9.0), 9th in defensive rebounds/game (2.8) and blocks/game (1.0) and 15th in free-throw percentage (75.0).

–  Alexus Malone is 3rd in field-goal percentage (.550), tied 5th in free-throw percentage (80.4), 13th in blocks/game (0.8), 20th in rebounding (5.9) and 29th in scoring (10.6)

–  Notable Louisiana Tech alumni include Trace Adkins (country music star) and Phil Robertson (cast member of A&E’s Duck Dynasty).

LAST MEETING WITH LA TECH; at UTEP 69, LA Tech 62 (1/5/17)

–  Sparkle Taylor poured in 25 points to join UTEP’s 1,000-point club (1,010) and the Miners stifled Louisiana Tech defensively in a 69-62 victory at the Don Haskins Center on Jan. 5

The Miners held the Lady Techsters to 27.4 percent (17-62) from the floor, their second-lowest percentage of the year (25.7 percent vs. Nichols State), while also winning the rebounding battle decisively (51-40).

–  Tamara Seda pulled down a game-high 14 boards to lead the charge on the glass while Najala Howell (14 points, career-high six assists) and Lulu McKinney (14 points, five assists) also made key contributions.

–  Taylor added a career-high four steals.

–  UTEP set a season high for free throws attempted (29) while its 21 makes at the line tie for second.

–  The Miners scored at least 16 points in all four quarters for the first time this season.

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