Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez | El Paso Herald Post

Miners face tough defensive Charlotte squad on Thursday Night

UTEP will head East to start a two-game road trip, starting with Charlotte on Thursday night. The Miners (13-10, 4-6 Conference USA) and 49ers (12-9, 6-4 C-USA) will tipoff at 5 p.m. MT/7 ET in Halton Arena.

The Miners are coming off a loss to UAB (69-55) on Feb. 1 in which the Blazers dominated the second half. UTEP allowed a season-high 54.0 percent from the field, while UAB also shot 60.0 percent during the second half.

Bryson Williams was named the C-USA Player of the Week for a third time this season. The redshirt junior averaged 27.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last week. Williams tallied this fifth double-double (28 points, 10 rebounds) against Middle Tennessee, while Efe Odigie (15 points, 10 rebounds) also recorded a double-double against MT, his first of the season and 12th in his career.

The 49ers lead the all-time series 5-4, and is 3-1 versus UTEP in Charlotte. The two programs split last season. UTEP won 57-53 on Jan. 26, 2019 in the Haskins Center, while Charlotte won the second meeting 68-58 in Halton Arena on March 3.

Charlotte is 12-9 after only winning eight games last season. The 49ers are currently on a two-game skid, falling at LA Tech, 72-59, and being upset at Southern Miss (74-68 OT). Charlotte swept its last pair of home games, beating Florida Atlantic (70-68) on Jan. 23 and FIU (75-49) on Jan. 25. Earlier in the season, the 49ers defeated the ACC’s Wake Forest, 67-65, on Nov. 17.

Redshirt junior Jordan Shepard leads the team in points per game (14.1) and assists (79). Shepard, a 6-4 guard, scored a season-high 27 points against Valparaiso, while his season most in assists was seven at Southern Miss. Freshman Jahmir Young averages 11.8 points per game, while the 6-1 guards leads the team at 4.9 rebounds per contest.

Graduate student Drew Edwards, a 6-4 guard, is the third 49er to average double figures (10.2 ppg) and averages 4.2 boards per game. The 49ers have a stingy defense, as their scoring defense (63.4) ranks fourth in Conference USA and 41st nationally. Charlotte was allowed 58 or less points in eight contests, while only yielding under 50 points in five of those games.

Charlotte averages 8.1 steals per game, ranking third in conference and 44th nationally.

The Miners will finish the road trip with a contest at Old Dominion on Feb. 8.

The Miners and 49ers game can be heard on 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling the action. The contest will also be streamed on ESPN+.