Photo by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald Post
UTEP men’s basketball opens Conference USA “Bonus Play” against Rice on Saturday, February 22.
Saturday’s contest is part of a doubleheader as the UTEP women’s squad hosts Middle Tennessee at 1 p.m., while the Miners and Owls are set to tipoff at 5 p.m. in the Haskins Center.
The Miners (13-14, 4-10 C-USA), who are the no. 13 seed, are looking to halt a five-game losing streak, while the no. 12-seeded Owls (13-14, 5-9 C-USA) have won four of their last five contests. UTEP’s last victory came on Jan. 30 during a 67-66 win against Middle Tennessee in the Haskins Center, while Rice is coming off a 70-54 victory against Charlotte in Tudor Fieldhouse on Feb. 15.
The last meeting came on Jan. 23, as the Miners chalked up their first road win in over a year, defeating the Owls, 72-64, in Tudor Fieldhouse. Souley Boum scored a career-high 27 points, and Daryl Edwards followed with 22 points, while the duo scored 13 of the Miners’ final 14 points.
UTEP recently fell to Marshall, 71-61, on Feb. 15 in the El Paso. The Miners, down 3-0 early, reeled off 11 consecutive points to take an eight-point advantage. But the Thundering Herd used a 13-2 run to go up 16-13 and never looked back.
Bryson Williams tied the game at 16 after hitting a three-point bucket, but Marshall hit a pair of threes as part of an 8-0 run to take a 24-16 lead at the 6:21 mark. The Miners scored the next six points that was capped by a Jordan Lathon jumper to get within a pair (24-22), but the Thundering Herd used their hot three-point shooting by hitting three more down the stretch to take a 36-26 lead into the locker room.
Overall, Marshall went 9-for-18 from beyond the arc in the first half.
Williams led the way with 23 points against Marshall, his most point total since scoring 26 points against UAB on Feb. 1. Boum recorded his first career double-double after pulling down a career-high 10 rebounds and chipping in with 12 points. Edwards tallied 14 points.
Williams ranks no. 3 in C-USA in scoring (18.6 points per game), while ranking sixth in rebounding (7.1 rpg). Lathon is averaging 2.8 assists per game, ranking 14th in the league, while Boum ranks second in free-throw percentage (87.8).
Drew Peterson led Rice with 16 points off the bench, while Robert Martin (15 points) and Ako Adams (14) also reached double figures, leading the Owls past Charlotte, 70-54, on Feb. 15. Pearson filled the stat sheet, leading Rice with seven rebounds and six assists.
The Owls’ last loss came against Old Dominion, 73-70, on Feb. 13 following a three-game win streak. On Feb. 1, Rice used a 15-for-28 performance from three-point range to down North Texas, 84-75. Rice followed with an 86-72 victory at UAB on Feb. 6, and a 91-83 shootout at Middle Tennessee on Feb. 8.
Trey Murphy III leads the way at 13.3 points per game, while Adams (11.5 ppg), Martin (11.5 ppg) and Peterson (10.1 ppg) each average double-figures. Peterson also paces his squad in assists (91) and rebounding (6.5 rpg).
The Owls rank no. 1 in C-USA and sixth nationally in three-point field goal attempts (781), and first the league in three-point field goals made per game (9.9) and total three-point field goals made (268).
Fans can listen live on UTEP’s flagship station 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling play-by-play and former UTEP basketball player Steve Yellen providing color analysis. The contest will also be streamed on CUSA.tv.
Single-game tickets are available by calling (915) 747-5234 or by going online.