Zuzanna Puc | Photo Courtesy UTEP Athletics
UTEP (6-17, 3-8 C-USA) will vie for a split on this week’s road swing when it plays at Southern Miss (15-9, 7-5 C-USA) at 3 p.m. MST/4 p.m. CST Saturday. USM won earlier this year in El Paso, 79-68, on Jan. 7.
The match-up features the only two head coaches in C-USA to have at least 400 collegiate wins; UTEP’s Keitha Adams is 409-240 (282-203 at UTEP) while USM’s Joye-Lee McNelis stands 436-349 (207-192 at USM).
The tilt concludes a four-game conference road trip- UTEP’s longest in 11 years (‘05-06, first year in the league)- and also a brutal stretch of playing seven of nine contests away from home. The upside is that UTEP will be able to return home to play four consecutive league home games. That is something that also hasn’t happened in 11 years. Southern Miss is 10-2 at home (4-1 C-USA). UTEP is 1-6 on the road (1-5 C-USA).
USM has won three of its past four games, including a 74-71 home victory against UTSA on Feb. 9. UTEP has dropped three straight league games for the first time this year, including a 69-61 road setback against Louisiana Tech on Feb. 9.
Brandon Cohn will have the call for 600 ESPN El Paso, KROD-AM Radio. Fans can also stay up-to-date by following the Miners (@UTEPWBB) or Southern Miss (@SouthernMissWBB) on Twitter.
INSIDE THE SERIES
– In 11 C-USA games the Miners and their opponents are identical for field-goal percentage (UTEP 41.2%, Opp. 41.2%) and quite close in field goals made (UTEP 281; Opp. 285) and attempted (UTEP 682; Opp. 691), rebounds/game (UTEP 38.8; Opp. 40.7) and assists/game (UTEP 14.8, Opp. 14.4) yet UTEP has a -7.0 (68.4-75.4) scoring margin.
The reason? Foes have scored 52 more points on free throws (UTEP 135-203, 66.5%, Opp. 187-253, 73.9 percent) and 60 more points on three pointers (UTEP 48-168, 28.6%; Opp. 66-202, 32.7%). That adds up to a -112 differential (-10.2/game) 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 30.2; Opp. 31.5), bench production (UTEP 18.7; Opp. 18.5), second-chance (UTEP 10.4; Opp. 10.2), and fastbreak (UTEP 6.5; Opp. 6.9). An area of concern is points off turnovers/game (UTEP 13.3; Opp. 17.9).
– UTEP is hitting 45.3 percent (233-514) of its two-point shots in league play; foes are at 44.8 percent (219-489).
– UTEP leads the series 12-6, including slight 4-3 edge when playing in Hattiesburg.
– The Miners have won their past three trips to Reed Green Coliseum. UTEP downed the 57-54 last year (2/18/16), 70-59 in 2014-15 (1/10/15) and 70-63 in 2011-12 (1/16/12).
– USM knocked off UTEP, 79-68, in El Paso on Jan. 7, 2017, in the first meeting this year.
– Last season the Miners swept the season series (W, 72-64, 1/28/16-home; W, 57-54, 2/18/16-road).
– Seventeen of the 18 match-ups between the programs have come since 2005-06 when UTEP joined C-USA.
GETTING TO KNOW SOUTHERN MISS
Overall: 15-9 Home: 10-2 Road: 4-5 Neutral: 1-2 | C-USA: 7-5 Home: 4-1 Road: 3-4
– Southern Miss returned three starters and nine letter winners from last year’s team (14-16, 7-11 C-USA).
– Stormed out to a 7-1 start on the season before dropping three of four to wrap non-league play at 8-4.
– Bolted out to a 3-1 start in C-USA play only to suffer three consecutive losses. Recovered to win three straight and four of five since that point, including a 74-71 win vs. UTSA on Feb. 9.
– Lead C-USA in both steals/game (11.7) and turnovers forced/game (22.1).
– Among upper echelon for numerous other categories; is 2nd in field-goal percentage (43.9) and turnover margin (+5.0), 4th in scoring offense (70.1) and assists/game (15.4), 5th in 3-pt percentage (32.7), free-throw percentage (69.4) and scoring margin (+5.8), 6th in scoring defense (64.3) and rebound margin (+1.2).
– Boast top-100 NCAA rankings for turnovers forced/game (7th), steals/game (14th), turnover margin (27th), field-goal percentage (44th), assists/game (66th) and scoring offense (83rd).
– Southern Miss has several players among the C-USA leaders for numerous categories. Brittanny Dinkins is 1st in steals/game (3.6), 4th for scoring (18.1) and free-throw percentage (81.0), 6th in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8), 11th in assists/game (4.0), 14th in field-goal percentage (48.9),
– Jayla King is 4th in offensive boards/game (3.5), 8th in rebounding (7.4), 14th in steals/game (1.7) and 25th in scoring (11.0).
– Keri Jewett-Giles is 10th in steals/game (1.8).
– Shonte Hailes is 8th in assist-to-turnover (1.7) and 13th for assists/game (3.5).
– Megan Brown is 13th for free-throw percentage (75.7)
– Dinkins has top-100 NCAA rankings for steals/game (6th), field goals made (172-21st) and attempted (352-43rd), points/game (54th), field-goal percentage (87th)
– Seven players account for at least 5.0 points/game.
– Yielded 70+ points in three straight and seven of 12 C-USA games (2-5 record in such contests).
– Only allowed 70+ points three times in 12 non-conference contests (0-3 record in such games).
– Notable Southern Miss alumni include Jimmy Buffett (singer, songwriter and actor), Brett Favre (three-time NFL MVP QB & future Hall of Famer) and Robert L. Stewart (former NASA astronaut).
LAST MEETING WITH SOUTHERN MISS; Southern Miss 79, at UTEP 68 (1/7/17)
– Tamara Seda (14 points, career-high tying 17 rebounds), Sparkle Taylor (21 points, career-high five assists) andNajala Howell (13 points, career-high tying six assists) all hit double figures in scoring but UTEP couldn’t quite slow down Southern Miss in a 79-68 setback at home on Jan. 7.
– The Miners shot 49.1 percent (27-55) from the floor while controlling the boards (35-22) but the Lady Eagles had too much firepower. Brittanny Dinkins erupted for 29 points (13-22 FG) to lead the way for USM, which shot the best percentage (58.2, 32-55) by a Miner opponent on the season.
– UTEP was harassed into 22 turnovers that resulted in 30 points.
– Southern Miss’ 23 rebounds were the fewest by a D1 opponent since the Miners also held UAB to 23 boards in a semifinals win of the 2012 C-USA Championships (3/9/12).
– USM was 0-7 from three-point range; it was the most attempts without a triple by an opponent since the Miners held Idaho State to 0-11 from beyond-the-arc in the 2011-12 season opener (11/12/11).
– Taylor set a career high in steals (four) vs LA Tech (1/5/17) and then matched it vs. Southern Miss (1/7/17).
– Seda became the first Miner in 27 years (Lisa Watson (1/27-29/89) with 14+ boards in back-to-back tilts