HOUSTON – UTEP, after improving its home record to a perfect 8-0, will look to chalk up its first road win in over a year as the Miners (8-1) will play in Houston (6-3) on Thursday, December 19. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. MT/7 CT in the Fertitta Center.
The Miners and Cougars will face each other for the first time since March 13, 2013 during the second round of the Conference USA Tournament. UTEP won, 80-69, and leads the all-time series 16-10.
The Miners are coming off their first WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational championship in five years after they defeated a tough UC Irvine squad, 67-61, on Tuesday night.
Bryson Williams, who was named the tournament MVP, averaged 21.5 points, including a game-high 22 against UCI. Williams connected on a collegiate career-high 11 free throws on 14 attempts. Jordan Lathon earned the Don Haskins Trophy after his efforts during the championship game. The sophomore matched his season high with 13 points and tied a career best with six assists, while grabbing five rebounds to tie for the team lead with Tydus Verhoeven. Souley Boum averaged 19.5 points during the two-day span, including 26 points on Monday night, which tied his collegiate career best. Boum was named to the all-tournament team.
UTEP, which has matched its win total from a season ago, is off to its best start since jumping out to a 9-1 mark during the 2003-04 season. The Miners only blemish was a three-point setback at NM State on Dec. 3. The Miners’ last road victory came at North Texas on Jan. 3, 2018.
Nigel Hawkins and Efe Odigie, a pair of Houston products, are making their way back to their hometown. Hawkins played at Cypress Falls High School, while Odigie competed at Pro-Vision Academy.
Houston is coming off a 61-55 loss against Oklahoma State on Dec. 15. The Cougars, before their loss against the Cowboys, had won four-straight. Prior to the win streak, Houston fell at then-no. 11 Oregon on Nov. 22.
Quentin Grimes, a 6-5 guard, leads the team at 15.0 points per game, ranking fifth in the American Conference. Nate Hinton, 6-10 center, averages 9.2 boards per game, ranking third in the conference and 53rd nationally.
Like the Miners, the Cougars don’t turn the ball over much. Houston has only turned the ball over 110 times, ranking first in the American Conference and 23rd nationally.
Houston rebounds the ball well, averaging 43.2 rebounds per game (ranks sixth nationally), while it’s +11.2 rebounding margin also ranks sixth.
UTEP is 4-1 when opponents outrebound it.
The game can be heard on 600 ESPN El Paso as “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher will call the action. The Miners and Cougars can also be seen on ESPN3 with David Saltzman calling the action and Reid Getty providing color analysis.