Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez

UTEP to battle Marshall in C-USA Tourney action Wednesday Night

UTEP is back in postseason play at the 2020 Air Force Reserve Conference USA Basketball Championships presented by Baylor Scott & White Sports Performance Center at the Star. No. 11-seed UTEP will battle no. 6 Marshall in first-round action on Wednesday, March 11 with tipoff set for 8 p.m. MT/9 CT in in Frisco, Texas.

The Miners (17-14, 8-10 C-USA) will put their four-game winning streak to the test against a Thundering Herd (16-15, 10-8) squad that has won four of its last five games.

The Miners were previously in the C-USA Tournament during the 2017-18 season, while their last win in postseason play came against Rice, in an 86-76 victory on March 9, 2017.

UTEP is 11-7 all-time versus Marshall. The two programs faced each other at the 2011 C-USA Tournament, with the Miners coming out on top, 77-65, on March 10 in El Paso.

UTEP’s last loss came against Marshall, 71-61, on Feb. 15 in the Haskins Center. The setback dropped the Miners under .500 for the first time during the season, but they’ve responded with a four-game winning streak after wins against Rice (68-62), Southern Miss (75-62), at Middle Tennessee (60-56) and at Rice (77-72). It’s the longest winning streak in league play since the 2016-17 campaign. The Miners’ back-to-back road wins in league play were also the first in three seasons.

In the first meeting on Feb. 15 in the Haskins Center, the Miners jumped out to an 11-3 advantage, but Marshall answered that with a 13-2 run and never looked back. UTEP was down by as many as 13 points, but cut the deficit to seven points on a pair of occasions with under 9:34 to play. However, Marshall answered with clutch jump shots to sustain the lead. Marshall, which entered the contest averaging 7.1 three-pointers per game, made 12 threes that Saturday afternoon.

Mikel Beyers came off the bench and scored 18 points behind 4-of-6 shooting from behind the line in 24 minutes of action. Bryson Williams paced the Miners with 23 points, while Souley Boum tallied his first career double-double (12 points, career-high 10 rebounds). Daryl Edwards recorded 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting.

Edwards has averaged 21.0 points his last seven games, while shooting 44.8 percent (26-58) from beyond the arc. Overall, he’s shooting 49.1 percent (56-114) and has added 17 assists and five steals. During UTEP’s four-game winning streak, Edwards is averaging 26.8 points per game behind 18-of-36 shooting from downtown.

Overall, he’s shooting 54.7 percent (41-57) during that span. The four-game performance commenced with a career-high 34 points as he helped UTEP erase a 19-point deficit against Rice, rallying the Miners past the Owls, 68-62, on Feb. 22.

Jordan Lathon currently ranks 12th in C-USA, averaging 3.0 assists per game. He’s been one of the leading guards for the Miners, as the sophomore is averaging 4.3 assists during his last eight games.

Lathon, during that span, has tied his career high twice with six assists at Charlotte and another six against Southern Miss. He’s averaging 6.0 rebounds and 5.5 points per game during his last eight outings.

Bryson Williams was named to the All-C-USA first team earlier Monday afternoon, as he ranks third in conference in points per game (17.6) and fifth in rebounds per game (7.1).

Marshall is led by All-C-USA second team selection Taevion Kinsey’s 16.1 points per game and 131 assists. Jarrod West, a third team selection, ranks second at 14.4 points per contest and has 126 assists. Kinsey (4.2 apg) and West (4.1 apg) rank in the top five in C-USA in assists per game.

The Thundering Herd average 75.6 points per game, ranking fourth in C-USA, while they rank 11th in scoring defense (72.9). Marshall ranks third in rebounds per game (38.6), while it ranks second in blocked shots per game (5.9) and steals per game (8.2).

The Miners and Thundering Herd can be heard on UTEP’s flagship station 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher and former UTEP basketball player Steve Yellen calling the action. The contest will be streamed on ESPN+.