Photo by Andres Acosta – El Paso Herald Post
The UTEP men’s basketball team will open its Conference USA home slate against Rice on Friday, January 8. The Miners and Owls will also face each other on Saturday.
Both games are sold out; however, fans can listen to the Miners and Owls on 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher behind the mic in his 40th season.
Audio streaming on the UTEP Miners app will also be available. Friday’s contest will be streamed on CUSA.tv, and Saturday’s game will be streamed on ESPN+ with KVIA news anchor Erik Elken (play-by-play) and UTEP hoops’ great Leonard Owens (color analysis) calling the action.
The Miners (5-3, 1-1 Conference USA) have emphasized ball security as one of the top teams nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio, while the Owls (8-2, 2-0 C-USA) have won four of their last five games behind hot shooting and solid rebounding.
For the first time this season, UTEP fans are permitted for Friday’s and Saturday’s games.
Gates will open 30 minutes earlier than usual – 90 minutes prior to tipoff. Click here to get caught up on UTEP’s COVID-19 protocols.
UTEP split its two games at Southern Miss last weekend to open league play. The Miners defeated the Golden Eagles, 77-62, on Jan. 2. Jamal Bieniemy led the charge with a game-high 20 points and seven assists with zero turnovers.
Souley Boum scored all of his 17 points in the second half, while Tydus Verhoeven (11 points) and Bryson Williams (10 points) also hit double figures. It was the first time this season that four Miners hit double-digit points. The Miners limited their turnovers to three, while forcing a season-high 18 turnovers. UTEP outscored Southern Miss, 27-4, on points off turnovers.
Overall, the Miners rank first in C-USA in total turnovers (86) and turnovers per game (10.8). Nationally, UTEP ranks 25th in turnovers per game.
Bieniemy has been hot the last two ball games, averaging 19.0 points, 7.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds per game, and has only turned the ball over three times. He leads C-USA in assist/turnover ratio (4.3) and ranks fourth in the league in assists per game (5.6). Souley Boum ranks third in C-USA, averaging 19.4 points per game.
Boum ranks third in the league in three-point percentage (45.8) and free-throw percentage (84.9). In three games last season versus Rice last season, Boum averaged 22.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists.
Rice swept UTSA during opening weekend. The Owls outran the Roadrunners 95-86 on Jan. 1 behind Tavis Evee’s 36 points and Max Fielders 11 boards, and 84-69 on January 2 as Chris Mullins led the way with 20 points.
The Owls average 82.3 points per game, ranking third in C-USA and 33rd nationally. Rice ranks second in the league in three-point field goal attempts (310) and third in three-point percentage (35.8). Quincy Olivari, a 6-2 sophomore guard, ranks fourth in C-USA in scoring (18.0 ppg), and leads the conference in three-point field goals per game (3.5).
Travis Evee ranks second on the team in scoring (14.7 ppg) and averages 3.1 three-pointers per game. Fielder ranks second in C-USA in rebounding (9.5 rpg), while the 6-10 sophomore forward leads the team in assists (4.0 apg).