Photo by Johnny Yturales | El Paso Herald Post
UTEP is looking for its first road win in over a year as the Miners will travel to Houston, to take on Rice on Thursday, January 23.
“Rice shoots the ball extremely well and they’ll put a lot of pressure on us defensively,” coach Terry said. “We know we need to try to guard as hard as we possibly can. We need to play tough and scrappy. We can’t give up transition baskets. We have a focal point of knowing we have to get back and get on defense.”
UTEP (11-8, 2-4 Conference USA) is coming off a split against UTSA. The Miners came back from a 24-point deficit to rally for an 80-77 overtime victory on Jan. 15, while the Roadrunners almost blew another big lead, this time by 23 points, but held off UTEP’s 17-2 run to come out on top, 86-70, on Saturday afternoon in San Antonio.
UTEP has lost its last 19 road games, as the Miners last won on March 3, 2018 at North Texas. UTEP will take on the Mean Green in Denton on Jan. 25.
Rice (9-11, 1-6 C-USA) has fell in its last three games, as the most recent was a 79-59 loss at North Texas on Jan. 20. The Owls previously lost at Southern Miss (81-68) on Jan. 18 and at LA Tech (72-56) on Jan. 16.
The Owls’ lone C-USA win came at home against FIU on Jan. 11, during a 92-78 stomping of the Panthers. Rice has last seven of its last eight contests after starting the season 8-4.
Despite its recent setbacks, second-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry knows not to look past Rice.
Last season, the Miners and Owls split their two contests – both played in the Haskins Center. The first meeting was on Jan. 12, 2019 as Jordan Lathon connected on a buzzer-beater during a 65-64 triumph. UTEP was down by as many as 17 points in that contest. The Owls got their revenge in the next meeting, rallying past the Miners, 85-81 in double overtime, despite Lathon’s career highs in points (32) and rebounds (18).
UTEP leads the all-time series, 24-13, while winning 20 of the last 26 meetings. The Miners are 5-2 against the Owls at Tudor Fieldhouse. The Miners last played there on March 1, 2018 with the Owls coming out on top, 76-70.
UTEP has continued its solid free-throw shooting during the last four games. The Miners are hitting 85.7 percent (84-98) during that stretch.
Overall, the Miners are ranked second in C-USA and 23rd nationally with their 76.6 percent shooting at the line, while also ranking no. 2 with 295 made free throws. In six league games, UTEP’s 81.5 percent and 106 made free throws each rank second in conference.
Bryson Williams, who was named the co-C-USA Player of the Week on Jan. 20, is averaging 19.4 points per game, ranking second in C-USA. Williams also ranks second in made field goals (133) and field goal percentage (55.6).
Rice is led by Trey Murphy III, who averages 13.9 points per game. Robert Martin (11.5 ppg), Ako Adams (10.0 ppg) and Drew Peterson (10.0) also average double figures. Peterson leads the Owls at 6.6 boards per game, while the 6-8 guard/forward also paces the squad in assists (63).
The Owls average 72.6 points per game and gives up 75.2. Rice is shooting 42.3 percent from the field and 32.8 from the three-point line.
The Miners and Owls are set to tipoff at 6 p.m. MT in Tudor Fieldhouse. “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher will call the action on 600 ESPN El Paso, while the Miners and Owls will be streamed on ESPN+.