Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez | El Paso Herald Post
The UTEP men’s basketball team will have its hands full when it takes on Conference USA West Division leader UAB on Friday, February 5, with tipoff at 5:30 p.m. MT/6:30 CT in Bartow Arena.
The Blazers (14-2, 7-1 C-USA) own the best record in C-USA play after sweeping Middle Tennessee and improving to 11-1 at home. The Miners (8-8, 4-6 C-USA) are coming off a dominant 69-51 victory against UTSA on January 30.
UTEP allowed a season-low 51 points during its win over UTSA on Jan. 30. The Miners held the Roadrunners to 29.5 percent shooting, and outworked them on the boards, 45-27. Souley Boum led all scorers with 20 points and has scored 20 or more points in four consecutive games for the first time in his career.
Keonte Kennedy (10 points, 14 rebounds) posted his second straight double-double on a career-high 14 rebounds, and Jamal Bieniemy (16 points, 10 rebounds) recorded his first career double-double.
The Miners ran away with the game after the Roadrunners tied it at 44 with 11:35 left to play. UTEP used a 14-3 run to take a 10-point lead with just over six minutes to play and ballooned that lead into 20 points at the 1:07 mark.
The UTEP defense shutdown C-USA’s leading scorer Jhivvan Jackson to seven points after he racked up 32 on Jan. 28.
Boum is ranked fifth in the league in scoring (17.8), while his 80.9 percent shooting from the foul line ranks eighth. Boum is averaging 22.8 points during the last four games.
Bryson Williams averages 15.3 points per game and 6.8 boards per game. Kennedy is averaging 13.5 rebounds per game over the last two games, and became the first Miner since Efe Odigie in 2019 to post back-to-back double-doubles.
UTEP ranks second in C-USA and 21st nationally in turnovers per game (10.8) and ranks fourth in the league in fewest turnovers (172).
UAB is one of the stingiest defensive squads in the nation, while playing efficient on offense. The Blazers lead C-USA and rank third nationally is scoring defense (58.1 points allowed per game), while also leading the league and ranking 13th nationally in field goal defense percentage (38.8).
UAB also leads C-USA and ranks 15th nationally in scoring margin (16.1). The Blazers’ 10.0 turnovers per game leads C-USA and ranks seventh nationally. UAB’s turnover margin (6.9) ranks first in C-USA and third nationally.
The Blazers have four players averaging double figures, as junior guard Tavin Lovan (13.2 ppg) leads the way. He also paces the squad with 44 assists. Guard Michael Ertel, a graduate transfer from Louisiana-Monroe, averages 12.6 points per game.
Forward Quan Jackson (10.0 ppg), a graduate transfer from Georgia Southern, leads the team in rebounding (6.3), and sophomore guard Jalen Benjamin (11.5 ppg) leads the team in three-point shooting (37-110).
The Miners and Blazers will tipoff at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and can be heard on 600 ESPN El Paso and the UTEP Miners app.
The Miners and Blazers will be streamed on ESPN+, and can be heard on the home of UTEP Basketball 600 ESPN El Paso and the UTEP Miners app with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling the action in his 40th season.