Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post
The UTEP men’s basketball team will start the new year with Conference USA play at Southern Miss on Friday, January 1.
The Miners (4-2, 0-0 C-USA) and Golden Eagles (4-3, 0-0 C-USA) will tipoff at 6 p.m. MT in Reed Green Coliseum. Game two of the series will tipoff at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Fans can listen live on 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling the action in his 40th season behind the mic. Both contests will also be streamed on ESPN+.
UTEP’s last game was on Dec. 20 when it defeated Benedictine University at Mesa, 79-59, in the Haskins Center. Christian Agnew came led UTEP with 16 points off the bench, and Tydus Verhoeven recorded his first career double-double on a UTEP career-high 15 points and collegiate career-best 10 rebounds.
The Miners’ scheduled Dec. 28 game against Our Lady of the Lake was canceled due to a COVID-19 positive case within the OLLU program.
Six games into the 2020-21 season, Souley Boum leads the team and ranks second in C-USA in scoring (19.8 ppg). Bryson Williams ranks eighth in C-USA at 16.3 points per game. Williams also ranks third in the league in rebounding (8.8 rpg) and fifth in field goal percentage (51.9). Jamal Bieniemy leads C-USA and ranks 17th nationally in assist/turnover ratio (4.2), while ranking fifth in C-USA in assists (5.0 apg). Verhoeven ranks fifth in C-USA in offensive boards per game (2.8).
The Miners lead C-USA in fewest personal fouls (96), and rank second in fewest turnovers (72). Opponents are shooting only 28.1 percent threes, ranking third in C-USA. UTEP also ranks third in free-throw percentage (75.3).
The Miners own an 18-14 mark after sweeping the Golden Eagles in a pair of games last season. However, UTEP is 3-11 all-time in Reed Green Coliseum after losing eight in a row in Hattiesburg.
The Miners’ last win at Southern Miss came on Feb. 24, 2010 (59-56).
Southern Miss has won its last three games. The Golden Eagles were victorious at Lamar, 66-63 (Dec. 15), and defeated La.-Monroe, 60-47 (Dec. 19) and Loyola (La.), 74-54 (Dec. 28). The Golden Eagles opened the new campaign with a loss at Jacksonville, 66-51, on Nov. 28. USM followed with a win against William Carey, 80-53 (Dec. 2), but fell at Tulane, 58-38 (Dec. 9) and against South Alabama, 76-75 (Dec. 12).
LaDavius Draine, a 6-4 senior guard, leads USM in scoring (12.0 ppg), while 6-8 junior forward Tyler Stevenson (7.7 rpg) and 6-7 sophomore forward Denijay Harris (7.4) are the rebounding leaders for the Golden Eagles. Tae Hardy, a 6-3 junior guard, leads with 27 assists (3.9 apg).
Overall, Southern Miss averages 63.4 points per game on 41.4 percent shooting from the floor. The Golden Eagles give up 59.6 points per contest, while yielding 39.5 percent shooting.
C-USA BASKETBALL TO UTILIZE DIVISIONAL STANDINGS FOR 2021 SEASON
Conference USA men’s and women’s basketball will move to a divisional standings format for the 2020-21 season, as approved by the league’s Board of Directors.
C-USA will feature East and West divisions and will crown divisional champions at the conclusion of conference play in March. Standings will be based on overall conference winning percentage. In addition, divisional seeding will be utilized for the C-USA Men’s and Women’s Championships. A cross-divisional bracket will be used to determine first-round matchups.
The East Division will be comprised of Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion and WKU.
Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, UAB, UTEP and UTSA will make up the West Division.
Men’s and women’s conference competition begins Friday, leading up to the 2021 Air Force Reserve C-USA Basketball Championships presented by Baylor, Scott & White Sports Performance Center at The Star, scheduled for March 10-13 in Frisco, Texas.
This will be the fourth year that the event will be held in Frisco.