Photo by Johnny Yturales
UTEP will play host to UAB for the first time since 2017 on Saturday, while both programs are coming off victories this past Thursday.
The Miners (13-9, 4-5 Conference USA) and Blazers (13-9, 4-5 C-USA) are tied for eighth-place with UTSA and Marshall in a jumbled league. UTEP and UAB are set tipoff at 7 p.m. in the Haskins Center.
Saturday’s contest will also feature the Mike Slive Foundation once again partnering with C-USA on the Block Cancer initiative to raise awareness for prostate cancer. The teams will wear blue Block Cancer shooting shirts, and coached will don blue ties and Foundation lapel pins.
During the game, fans will see signage and videos that focus on increasing awareness for prostate cancer. Fans will also have the opportunity to donate only at mikeslivefoundation.org.
UAB leads the all-time series 11-9, while the Miners are 7-2 versus the Blazers in the Haskins Center. UTEP last defeated UAB on Feb. 2, 2017, 63-59, in El Paso. That was also the last time the Blazers made a trip to the Sun City.
The Miners squeaked by Middle Tennessee, 67-66, on Jan. 30, holding off a late rally. Bryson Williams (28 points, 10 rebounds) and Efe Odigie (15 points, 10 rebounds) each posted a double-double. For Williams, it was his fifth career double-double and eighth during his collegiate career.
Odigie registered his first of the season and 12th career double-double.
Deon Stroud made his first collegiate start, chipping in with seven points, while Nigel Hawkins tallied four points, five boards and a team-high four assists against the Blue Raiders.
Williams upped his average to 19.0 points per game, which ranks second in C-USA, while his 53.9 field-goal percentage also ranks second. Souley Boum has hit 90.7 percent of his free throws, ranking first in C-USA and 10th nationally.
UTEP only turned the ball over eight times against MT, its second-lowest total this season. The Miners turned the ball over a season-low seven times at Rice last week. In fact, the Miners are averaging only 9.8 turnovers per game the last four contests after averaging over 15 turnovers the first 18 games.
The Blazers, down two points (36-34) at the half at UTSA, outscored the Roadrunners 42-32 in the second period to claim a 76-68 win. Tavin Lovan led UAB with 19 points, while Will Butler tallied 18 and Antonio Ralat chipped in with 11 points.
UAB leads C-USA in rebounding margin (+7.3), while ranking third in rebounds per game (38.2). Jalen Benjamin leads the team at 12.4 points per game, while Lovan averages 11.5 points per contest.
Benjamin ranks third in C-USA in free-throw percentage (87.5). Six players average over 4.0 rebounds per game, as Makhtar Gueye leads the way at 5.5.
The Miners and Blazers are pretty much even across the board. UTEP averages 68.4 points per game, while UAB averages 65.9. UAB ranks fourth in C-USA in scoring defense (63.6), as UTEP ranks sixth (65.3). The Blazers yield 40.6 percent on field goals, and the Miners give up 41.0 percent on field goals.
Single-game tickets are available by calling (915) 747-5234 or by going online. Mini plans are available by calling (915) 747-6150.
Fans can listen live on 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher (play-by-play) and former UTEP basketball player Steve Yellen (color analysis) calling the action.
The Miners and Blazers will also be streamed on ESPN+ with El Paso Athletics Hall of Famer Duke Keith (play-by-play) and Miner great Leonard Owens (color analysis) on the mic.