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Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics

H-P Sports In Depth: Miners Start 4 Game Road Trip at UAB Thursday

UTEP (6-14, 3-5 C-USA) starts a four-game roadswing- its longest in league play in 11 years– by locking up with UAB (10-10, 3-6 C-USA) at Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Ala., at 6 p.m. MST/7 p.m. CST Thursday.

The last time the Miners had four straight league road tilts was in 2005-06 (first year in C-USA). UTEP enters with momentum, having knocked off Marshall, 84-74, last time out on Jan. 28.

UAB has dropped back-to-back games, including a 64-59 setback at Southern Miss last time out on Jan. 28. The Blazers are 7-4 at home on the year, including 3-2 in league play. UTEP is 1-3 on the road, 1-2 C-USA. UTEP is in search of consecutive victories for the first time this season.

The Miners are in the midst of playing seven of nine on the road.  In eight league games UTEP is shooting 41.5 percent (211-509), compared to 40.4 percent (207-512) by its opponents, but UTEP’s scoring margin is -4.2 (71.2-75.5).

Three pointers (UTEP 37-123, 30.1 percent; Opponents-46-143, 32.2 percent) and free throws (UTEP-111-195, 66.9 percent;Opponents 144-195, 73.8) have played a big role.

Duke Keith will have the call on 600 ESPN El Paso, KROD-AM Radio. There will be a live stream on C-USA.tv. (subscription based). Fans can also stay up-to-date by following the Miners (@UTEPWBB) or Blazers (UAB_WBB) on Twitter.

INSIDE THE SERIES

–  UTEP leads the series, 9-7, including picking up two wins last year. The Miners posted a 62-54 win in El Paso (1/10/16) before knocking off the Blazers, 62-59, in OT in Birmingham in the 2016 C-USA quarterfinals.

–  UAB still has a 5-3 series when playing in Birmingham.

–  This is the lone scheduled meeting on the year between the programs but they have met in the league tournament in two straight and four of the past five campaigns.

–  UAB claimed the first meeting ever between the programs, 61-41, on Dec. 20, 1990

–  The two squads did not square off again until the 2005-06 campaign when UTEP joined C-USA.

GETTING TO KNOW UAB

Overall: 10-10   Home: 7-4      Road 2-6        Neutral 1-0 | C-USA: 3-6    Home: 3-2      Road 0-4

–  UAB returned one starter and six letter winners total from last year’s team (15-16, 7-11 8th C-USA).

–  After a 1-2 start, UAB got things going by winning six of the next eight to finish non-conference action with a record of 7-4.

–  The Blazers were saddled with a 1-4 start to league play before posting consecutive wins to climb to 3-4. They have lost back-to-back contests since to slip to 3-6 in the league.

–  UAB is 3-2 at home in C-USA action and 0-4 on the road.

–  Three players produce at least 9.0 points/game, including leading scorer Rachael Childress (11.8 ppg).

–  Responsible for three of the top four three-point shooters in C-USA; they are in the form of Miyah Barnes (24-58, 41.4 percent), Deanna Kuzmanic (41-103, 39.8 percent) and Childress (57-144, 39.6 percent).

–  UAB is in the top half of the league for three-point percentage (38.1-first), scoring defense (62.0-third),turnovers/game (15.0-third), assists/game (15.1-fourth), three-point percentage defense (29.6-fourth), field-goal percentage (43.3-fifth) and scoring margin (+4.2-sixth)

–  Nationally the Blazers have top-100 rankings for three-point percentage (18th), field-goal percentage (65th), assists/game (83rd) and three-point percentage defense (90th)

–  UAB has an all-time record of 595-549 since launching its program in 1978. The Blazers have made a pair of appearances in the NCAA (most-recent, 2000-Sweet 16) and five WNIT bids (most recent, 2013, First Round). UAB also won its own foray into the WBI in 2011.

–  The university was founded in 1969.

–  Notable alumni include Regina Benjamin (U.S. Surgeon General), Steve Chiotakis (co-host of the NPR morning report), Deidre Downs (2005 Miss America)  and Vonetta Flowers (2002 Olympic gold medalist in bobsled).

LAST MEETING WITH UAB (1) UTEP 62, (8) UAB 59, 3/10/16) | C-USA QUARTERFINALS

–  Top seed UTEP outlasted host (8) UAB, 62-59, in a wild overtime contest  in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Conference USA Championships at Bartow Arena on March 10.

–  The game appeared destined for double overtime when Chelsee Black, who led UAB with a game-high 19 points, banked in a halfcourt shot at the buzzer. But after an official review, it was determined that the shot came after time expired to send the Miners dancing into the semifinals for the fourth time in five years.

–  It was a hard-fought battle, with both the Miners (26-69, 33.3 percent) and Blazers (22-63, 34.9 percent) shooting worse than 35 percent from the floor. UAB won the boards, 45-44, but UTEP compensated by forcing 18 turnovers that led to 15 points.

–  Lulu McKinney (11 points), Jenzel Nash (11 points) and Starr Breedlove (10 points) hit double figures in scoring for the Miners. Nash also had six steals to tie for the second most by a Miner in a league tournament game.

–  Not to be lost in the madness were two milestone moments for the Miners; head coach Keitha Adams recorded career win 400 and seniorCameasha Turner became the 11th member of UTEP 1,000+ career point club (1,004).

 GOING BACK IN TIME at UTEP 84, Marshall 74 (1/28/17)

–  All five starters reached double figures in scoring and UTEP used a huge second quarter to power past Marshall, 84-74, at the Don Haskins Center on Jan. 28. The Thundering Herd led 17-12 after 10 minutes of action but the Miners had a +20 differential (30-10) in the second quarter to cruise into the locker room armed with a 42-27 advantage. The cushion swelled to as many as 21 (56-35, 4:40 3Q) and the visitors never truly threatened the rest of way.

–  Sparkle Taylor (25 points, four assists), Tamara Seda (15 points, 12 rebounds), Zuzanna Puc (12 points, 11 rebounds), Katarina Zec(career-high tying 11 points, career-high five assists) and Lulu McKinney (10 points, six assists, career-high tying five rebounds) keyed the charge for the Miners.

–  UTEP shot 40.8 percent (29-71) from the floor, won the boards (46-45) and converted 19 Marshall turnovers into 28 points.

–  The Miners racked up 23 assists on the 29 made field goals while also committing only 13 turnovers.

–  The 30-point burst in the second quarter was the Miners’ second-highest scoring total in a quarter (32 vs. WNMU) this year and ranks four on the program’s single-game records.

–  Jakeira Ford (five points), Ax Bernard (three points, two rebounds) and Faith Cook (two assists, no turnovers) made some contributions at key times to help buoy the starters.

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 (7-1), WKU (7-1) and Middle Tennessee (7-2) share first place in the league with UTSA (6-2) one half game back. Southern Miss, LA Tech and Old Dominion tie for fifth (5-4) followed by Marshall (4-5).

–  UTEP and FIU share ninth at 3-5 with Rice, UAB and North Texas (3-6) one game behind in loss column. FAU rounds out the standings at 0-8 within the league.

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