Photo by Johnny Yturales – El Paso Herald Post
After a road split last week, the UTEP men’s basketball team will look to even its Conference USA record as the Miners are set to host a pair of games against Middle Tennessee on Thursday night and UAB on Saturday, February 1.
UTEP, after playing nine of its last 12 games away from the Haskins Center, will play six of its last 10 regular season games in the Sun City.
The Miners (12-9, 3-5 C-USA) recently claimed their first road win in over a year, defeating Rice 72-64 in Houston on Jan. 23. UTEP fell in the following contest at North Texas, 67-57, to drop to two games under .500 in league action.
The Blue Raiders (5-16, 1-7 C-USA) won their first conference contest, edging Southern Miss, 65-63, on Jan. 25. Prior to the victory against the Golden Eagles, MT had lost 11 consecutive games.
Middle Tennessee leads the all-time series 7-3, while UTEP is 2-1 in the Haskins Center versus MT. The Blue Raiders and Miners met three times last year, as MT swept the season series. MT defeated UTEP, 75-72 in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Jan. 9, 2019, won in the Haskins Center, 69-53, on March 6, and 48-47 back in the Murfreesboro on March 9 to close out the campaign.
The Blue Raiders have won five consecutive games against the Miners, dating back to March 10, 2017 at the Conference USA Tournament. UTEP last defeated Middle Tennessee on Feb 4, 2017 by the score of 57-54 in the Haskins Center.
Souley Boum produced his best two-game stretch during his collegiate career Jan. 23-25 at Rice and North Texas. The redshirt sophomore averaged 24.0 points per game, while shooting 18-for-20 from the foul line, 12-of-24 from the field and 40.0 percent from the three-point line.
Boum scored a career-high 27 points at Rice, shooting 40.0 percent from downtown and 6-of-12 overall from the field. The Oakland product continued his hot free-throw shooting, going 11-of-12 from the line versus the Owls, and chipping in with five rebounds, an assist and steal. Against the Mean Green, Boum led the way with a game-high 21 points.
Boum is also one of the premier free-throw shooters in the nation as his 90.6 percent clip rates 11th nationally and first in C-USA.
Boum has given the Miners a spark coming off the bench the last seven games, averaging 16.1 points per game during that span. During his first 14 games in the starting lineup, Boum averaged 10.9 points per game.
Overall, UTEP is shooting 77.0 percent from the foul line, ranking second in C-USA and 16th nationally. The Miners also rank second in C-USA with 328-made free throws and 35th nationally.
MT is led by redshirt junior CJ Jones. The 6-5 guard averages 16.3 points per contest, ranking fourth in C-USA. Jones is averaging 15.5 points per game in C-USA only games. Antonio Green ranks second on the squad with his 12.7 points per game.
Second-year MT Head Coach Nick McDevitt is been getting solid production during from his scorers in league play. Four players, including Jones, are averaging double figures. Green is averaging 11.5 points per game, while Donovan Sims (11.3 ppg) and Jayce Johnson (10.1 ppg) also average double-figures.
MT averages 71.7 points per game and gives up 76.4 points per contest. Opponents are shooting 46.2 percent, which ranks 14th in C-USA.
The Miners and Blue Raiders are set to tipoff at 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center. The game can be heard on 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling the action with former UTEP basketball player Steve Yellen.
The contest will also be streamed on ESPN+ with El Paso Athletics Hall of Famer Duke Keith and Miner great Leonard Owens on the mic.