UTEP (2-11, 0-1 C-USA) continues a three-game Conference USA road swing at LA Tech (9-5, 1-0 C-USA) on Thursday. The Miners dropped their league opener at UTSA, 67-55, on Jan. 1. The Bulldogs won at Southern Miss, 79-55.
UTEP is seeking its first win in Ruston since 2004. The Miners have lost 10 consecutive games, including six by nine points or fewer. UTEP is 0-3 on the road this season, while LA Tech is 7-1 at home. Thursday’s game is the Bulldogs’ C-USA home opener.
ABOUT LA TECH
– After losing their first home game of the season to Florida Gulf Coast on Dec. 20 (79-78), the Bulldogs have strung together consecutive dominating victories over LSU-Shreveport (95-53) and at Southern Miss (79-55).
– LA Tech leads C-USA in scoring margin (+14.6 ppg), three-point field goal percentage defense (.302), assists (17.4 apg) and blocked shots (5.6 bpg). The Bulldogs are second in scoring defense (64.2 ppg), field goal percentage (.481) and field goal percentage defense (.399), and third in scoring offense (78.9 ppg) and assist/turnover ratio (1.3).
– LA Tech ranks 25th nationally in blocks per game, 28th in assists per game and 30th in scoring margin.
– Senior forward Erik McCree is averaging 17.3 points (eighth in C-USA) and 9.4 rebounds (second). He is shooting 52 percent from the field (11th in the league).
– McCree ranks eighth nationally in defensive rebounds per game (7.9), and 17th in double-doubles (seven). He is the league leader in both categories.
– Junior guard Jacobi Boykins (15.0 ppg), freshman guard Jalen Harris (12.3 ppg) and junior forward Omar Sherman (10.2 ppg) also have double-figure scoring averages.
– Boykins is second in C-USA in steals (1.9 spg) and three-pointers made per game (3.0).
– Freshman guard DaQuan Bracey is the C-USA leader in assist/turnover ratio (3.8), and ranks ninth nationally. He is also third in C-USA in assists (5.6 apg).
– The Bulldogs also have C-USA’s no. 2 shotblocker in sophomore center Joniah White (2.5 bpg). He is 22nd in the country in rejections.
– The series is tied 2-2.
– The Miners are 1-7 against LA Tech in games played at Ruston. The lone win came on Feb. 26, 2004 by the score of 76-65.
– UTEP and LA Tech were joint members of the Western Athletic Conference from 2001-05. The Miners went 5-4 versus the Bulldogs during that stretch, including 1-3 in Ruston.
– UTEP is 2-3 versus LA Tech since the Bulldogs joined C-USA (0-2 in Ruston).
COACH FLOYD’S LA TECH CONNECTION
– UTEP Coach Tim Floyd graduated from LA Tech in 1977 with a degree in health and physical education. He earned one letter with the Bulldogs in 1976.
– He will be coaching against his alma mater for the 21st time on Thursday. He is 11-9 versus LA Tech (9-6 at New Orleans/2-3 at UTEP).
– Floyd is 4-4 when coaching against LA Tech in Ruston, with the bulk of the games coming during his stint at the University of New Orleans.
THE LAST MEETING
– Lee Moore scored 26 points and matched his career-high with nine assists in leading UTEP to its sixth consecutive victory, 91-80 over LA Tech on Feb. 20, 2016 at the Don Haskins Center.
– Terry Winn added 17 points and 10 rebounds. The Miners trailed for only one minute and 16 seconds and built leads of as many as 23 points before holding off a late rally by the Bulldogs.
– The Miners shot a season-best 59.3 percent from the field, made 9-of-20 three pointers and collected 22 assists.
– The Miners got down 9-5 early but went on a 15-5 run to assume a 20-14 lead. They closed the half with a 9-3 run and were up 50-36 after shooting 62.5 percent from the floor in the opening stanza.
– UTEP took its biggest lead (82-59) on a jumper by Dominic Artis with 5:46 to play. LA Tech answered with a 17-3 spurt to make it a nine-point game (85-76) with a little under a minute left. But Moore hit a couple of free throws, then a huge three-pointer with 35 seconds remaining to put it away.
– Omega Harris chipped in with 15 points for UTEP. Artis had nine points, six rebounds and six assists, and Earvin Morris added seven points and seven boards as the Miners won the rebounding battle 36-28.
– The Bulldogs shot 49.2 percent from the field, but more importantly 29.6 percent (8-for-27) from outside. Alex Hamilton scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half for LA Tech.
– Moore finished 8-for-13 from the field, 4-for-7 from three and 6-for-6 from the line.
LAST GAME: UTSA 67, UTEP 55
– Nick Billingsley scored 17 points in a reserve role, leading UTSA to a 67-55 win over UTEP in the Conference USA opener for both schools on Jan. 1 at the Convocation Center.
– The Miners took a 38-37 lead, their last of the game, on a layup by Dominic Artis with 14:40 remaining. But they went cold after that, managing only two field goals over the next nine minutes. UTSA wasn’t much more prolific offensively during the stretch, outscoring the Miners 13-4 to go ahead 50-42.
– Artis cut the eight-point deficit down to five (50-45) on a three-pointer with 5:29 left. But the Roadrunners scored the next seven points, including five from Lucas O’Brien, to put it away.
– UTEP shot 44.7 percent for the game, but that number cooled off to 40.9 percent in the second half. The Miners scored nine field goals in the final 20 minutes, but three of those came over the final 2:37, and all from Artis who scored 18 points.
– The Miners coughed up the ball 16 times, leading to 22 points for the home team.
– Besides UTSA turning it over only nine times, free throws were a difference-maker as the Roadrunners were 24-for-30 at the stripe and UTEP was 10-for-19, including 6-for-13 in the second half. The Miners made their last three free throws after starting the second half 3-for-10.
– Omega Harris scored 12 points. Paul Thomas had seven points and nine rebounds and Matt Willms added six points and eight boards. But the Miners lost the rebounding battle 34-32.
MINERS IN THE NCAA STATS
– Dominic Artis was sixth in the nation in assists (7.2 apg), 20th in minutes (36.1 mpg) and 32nd in steals (2.1 spg) through Jan. 2.
– Artis is the only player in the country averaging at least 14 points, six rebounds and seven assists.
National Assist Leaders (Through Jan. 2)
1. Maurice Watson Jr. (Creighton) 9.1 apg
2. Lonzo Ball (UCLA) 8.1 apg
3. Jaaron Simmons (Ohio) 7.7 apg
4. Kyron Cartwright (Providence) 7.4 apg
5. Erick Neal (UT Arlington) 7.3 apg
6. Dominic Artis (UTEP) 7.2 apg