Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez | El Paso Herald Post
No. 5 Western Division-seed UTEP (12-11, 8-8) will take on no. 4 Eastern Division-seed Florida Atlantic (12-9, 7-5) at the 2021 Conference USA Men’s Basketball Championship on Wednesday, March 10.
The Miners and Owls are set to tipoff at 8:30 p.m. CT/7:30 MT at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
UTEP is coming off a heartbreaking loss at no. 13/14 Kansas, 67-62, but finished C-USA regular-season play with a four-game winning streak. The Miners recently swept Charlotte, winning 70-47 on Feb. 27 and 77-62 the next day.
Souley Boum and Bryson Williams were named All-C-USA Third Team on Monday. Boum and Williams are the first pair of Miners to earn a spot on the team in the same season since 2017.
Williams is coming off back-to-back double-doubles for the first time in his UTEP career. Williams tallied 23 points and a career-high 14 rebounds against the 49ers on “Senior Day”, and followed that performance with a 23-point, 13-rebound effort against the Jayhawks. Williams is currently averaging 15.1 points and a career-best 7.4 rebounds per game.
Williams has recorded 15 double-doubles during his collegiate career. He’s tallied five double-doubles this campaign, and five a season ago.
Boum ranks third in C-USA in scoring (18.6 ppg), while leading the league in free throws made (124) and attempts (152). Boum is shooting 81.6 percent from the foul line and 39.3 percent (59-150) from beyond the arc. Boum has scored 20 or more points in eight of the last 11 games, and averaging 21.3 points per game during that span.
Tydus Verhoeven set a UTEP career high with five blocked shots at no. 13 KU. It was the most by a Miners since Matt Willms blocked five against Boise State on November 16, 2017.
UTEP has maintained ball security throughout the season, only averaging 11.0 turnovers per game. Miners ranks second in C-USA and 31st nationally in that statistical category. UTEP’s 74.7 percent shooting from the foul line ranks third in the league and 52nd nationally.
Florida Atlantic is currently on a four-game winning streak. The Owls are coming off victories at Southern Miss and against Middle Tennessee.
Prior to the four-game winning streak, FAU had four games canceled – at Marshall and against WKU. FAU returned to action, losing a pair of games to UTSA on Feb. 12 and 13 prior to its scheduled games against UTEP on Feb. 21 and 22, which were canceled.
Jailyn Ingram leads FAU in scoring (12.5 ppg) and rebounding (6.1). Michael Forrest is the other Owl to average double figures (12.1 ppg) and is shooting 38.3 percent (57-149) from downtown. Bryan Greenlee and Karlis Silins each average 9.9 points per game, while Greenlee leads the team in assists (60), and Silins leads with 14 blocked shots.
UTEP leads the all-time series 5-4, however FAU has won the last three meetings. The Miners are 3-1 in Boca Raton after last season’s 59-56 loss in FAU Arena.
UTEP last won in Boca on February 23, 2017 by the score of 60-55. Bryson Williams recorded a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) in last years’ meeting.
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 behind the mic. The contest will be carried by ESPN+.
Wednesday’s winner will face no. 1 Western Division LA Tech on Thursday, March 11. Tipoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. CT/7:30 MT on Court A, and will be carried by Stadium.