Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez | El Paso Herald Post
Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez | El Paso Herald Post

Miners set to battle #13 Kansas Thursday Night

Before competing at the Conference USA Championships next week, the UTEP men’s basketball team will square off against the 13th-ranked team in the nation. UTEP will make its first ever trip to Lawrence to take on no. 13 Kansas on Thursday, March 4.

The Miners and Jayhawks are slated for a 6 p.m. tip time in Allen Fieldhouse.

Fans can tune into the home of UTEP Basketball 600 ESPN El Paso and the UTEP Miners app to hear “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher make the call in his 40th season. The contest will also be streamed on ESPN+.

UTEP is facing a ranked opponent for the first time since Dec.ember 19, 2014 when the Miners hosted no. 3 Arizona.

UTEP (12-10, 8-8 Conference USA) has won four consecutive games after back-to-back sweeps against FIU and Charlotte. The Miners have won by an average of 15.8 points and have only allowed 59.0 points per game during the streak.

No. 13 Kansas (18-8, 12-6 Big 12) jumped up four spots in the top 25 AP Poll after its 71-58 upset of then-undefeated no. 2 Baylor on Feb. 27 in Lawrence. The Jayhawks are 6-1 in their last seven games that have included victories over no. 23 Oklahoma State and no. 15 Texas Tech.

Souley Boum is averaging 21.8 points in his last 10 games after putting up 23 points on a career-high six 3-pointers. Overall, Boum ranks third in the league in scoring (18.7 ppg) and ranks second in 3-point field goal percentage (40.8). Boum leads C-USA with 119 made free throws, and ranks sixth in free-throw percentage (81.5).

Bryson Williams is coming off his fourth double-double of the season after scoring 23 points and pulling down a career-high 14 rebounds during a “Senior Day” victory over Charlotte. Williams has recorded nine double-doubles at UTEP and 13 overall in his collegiate career.

Efe Odigie gave the Miner bench a boost when he saw action for the first time since Jan. 15. The junior forward averaged 13.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in two games versus Charlotte. Odigie shot 66.7 percent from the floor, while adding an assist and steal during the weekend series.

The Miners have done an exceptional job taking care of the basketball, ranking second in C-USA and 22nd nationally in turnovers per game (10.9). UTEP also ranks third in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.12).

Kansas Head Coach Bill Self is in his 18th season at Kansas, while he’s won 726 career games in 28th seasons has a collegiate division I head coach. Self ranks in the top 20 on the all-time division I coaching victories.

The Jayhawks average 73.5 points per game, while allowing 66.0 points per contest (ranked third in the Big 12). KU ranks first in the Big 12 in field-goal percentage defense (40.5), 3-point field-goal defense (32.1), total 3-point field goals made (196), total assists (358), total blocks (109), and total rebounds (1,003). KU ranks sixth nationally in total rebounds.

Ochai Agbaji leads KU in scoring at 13.5 points per game. He ranks first in the Big 12 and 15th nationally with 177 3-point field goal attempts. Agbaji’s 67 3-pointers made ranks first in the Big 12 and 21st nationally. David McCormack (13.2), Jalen Wilson (12.6), Christian Braun (10.3) and Marcus Garrett (10.2) all average double-figures.

Wilson leads Kansas and ranks second in the Big 12 in rebounding (8.4 rpg). Garrett leads the team with 90 assists and 37 steals. McCormack averages 6.0 rebounds per game, and leads the squad with 26 blocked shots. Mitch Lightfoot has tallied 23 blocks.

UTEP leads the all-time series 3-1 versus Kansas. The Miners last played Kansas on Nov. 30, 2013 in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The no. 2 Jayhawks got by the Miners, 67-63 in the third-place game on Paradise Island, Bahamas.

The Miners upset the no. 1-seed Jayhawks 66-60 on March 22, 1992 in Dayton, Ohio, to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The two programs first met on March 12, 1966 when Texas Western College edged out no. 4 Kansas 81-80 (2OT) in Lubbock, Texas, during its championship title run.

The Miners defeated Kansas the very next season on Dec. 17, 1966 in Chicago, Ill.