UTEP To Play At BIG EAST Member DePaul On FS1 Saturday
Story via UTEP Athletics
The UTEP men’s basketball team (6-2) will play its final nonconference road game of the regular season when it locks up at BIG EAST member DePaul (5-4, 0-1 BIG EAST) in a nationally-televised contest (FS1) at 4:30 p.m. MT/5:30 p.m. CT Saturday. Mattress Firm is the Presenting Sponsor of UTEP Men’s Basketball. The Miners are searching for their first road win of the campaign while the Blue Demons stand 3-1 at home on the season. Both teams have played two OT contests this year, with DePaul recently having competed in back-to-back tilts like UTEP did as part of the Jim Forbes Classic presented by Speaking Rock. The Miners are well rested, having not competed for a week when they toppled NAIA foe Northern New Mexico College, 87-50, on Dec. 3. DePaul had a two-game winning streak snapped when it fell in a BIG EAST tilt at St. John’s, 86-67, on Dec. 7. UTEP is off to its best start (6-2) in three years. In 2019-20 the Miners got out of the gates at 8-2 before finishing 17-15. The contest will air on “The Home of UTEP Basketball” 600 ESPN El Paso with Jon Teicher (42nd year) on the call. It will also be broadcast nationally on FS1, with Chris Vosters (play-by-play) and Dickey Simpkins (analyst) describing the action.
SERIES HISTORY: DEPAUL LEADS, 1-0
UTEP and DePaul will be matching up for the first time in 93 years and just the second time ever when they square off on Saturday. The Blue Demons dispatched the Miners, 38-29, in El Paso during the 1929-30 season.
GET TO KNOW DEPAUL
Former Conference USA member DePaul is a proud program which has made 22 NCAA tournament appearances (last in 2004) and sports 16 showings in the NIT (last in 2007) in 99 seasons. The Blue Demons returned three starters and seven letter winners overall from last year’s team that went 15-16, 6-14 in BIG EAST (tied ninth). They are under the direction of second-year head coach Tony Stubblefield (20-19 at school). This year DePaul is 5-4 (0-1 BIG EAST), and it has the fifth-oldest roster by average age (21.3) in the nation. Heading into the match-up with the Miners, it is 48-10 in nonconference games dating back to 2018. Javan Johnson (17.6 ppg), Umoja Gibson (15.8 ppg) and Eral Penn (11.3 ppg) lead the attack offensively, with Johnson and Gibson combing to have drilled 43 of team’s 80 3-pointers this season. Gibson, a transfer from Oklahoma, who also previously played at North Texas, directs the offense with 6.3 assists per game (second BIG EAST/eighth NCAA) while Penn is the top rebounder at 8.0 rebounds per contest (fourth BIG EAST/84th NCAA). Gibson is also a pest on defense, leading the BIG EAST and ranking 23rd in the country with 2.4 steals per game. Da’Sean Nelson (9.8 ppg) and Philmon Gebrewhit (8.0 ppg) have also been scoring threats. Similar to the Miners, DePaul gets to the line early and often, making 15.1 charity stripe tosses per game (sixth BIG EAST/60th NCAA) on 19.6 attempts per game (fifth BIG EAST/103rd NCAA). It is a threat from distance as well, connecting on 8.9 treys per tilt (third BIG EAST/62nd NCAA) at a readout of 34.5 percent (fifth BIG EAST). Overall, the Blue Demons are putting up 75.6 points per game while allowing 74.8 points per contest. Notable alumni include George Mikan (one of NBA’s 50 greatest players), Todd Beamer (hero on United 93 flight on Sept. 11, 2001), Gillian Anderson (actress best known from playing Agent Scully in the series X-Files) and Joe Keery (actor best known from playing Steve Harrington in the Netflix series Stranger Things).
LAST TIME OUT: AT UTEP 87, NORTHERN NEW MEXICO COLLEGE 50, (12/03/22)
UTEP jumped out to a 27-point halftime lead (46-19) on the way to posting a wire-to-wire 87-50 win against NAIA opponent Northern New Mexico College at the Don Haskins Center on Dec. 3. Shamar Givance (season-high tying 14 points), Derek Hamilton (career-high 11 points), Mario McKinney Jr. (10 points) and Jon Dos Anjos (season-best 10 points) all hit double figures in scoring for the Miners, who remained unbeaten at home (6-0) in 2022-23. It marked the first action for Dos Anjos since getting hurt in the season opener at No. 12 Texas on Nov. 7. Carlos Lemus and Tae Hardy each added eight points while Ze’Rik Onyema and Carlos Solomon pitched in seven points apiece. The Miners won the boards (42-31), with Onyema and Solomon sharing the team lead with seven boards each. Defensively the Orange and Blue held the Eagles to 37.5 percent from the floor while forcing 27 turnovers that led to 30 UTEP points
HOT SECOND HALF FOR HAMILTON
Post Derek Hamilton had an impressive second half against NNMC, scoring a career-high 10 points (3-5 FG, 5-5 FT) while also securing a career-best tying four rebounds all after the break. Making it more impressive is that he did so in a total of seven minutes of action. On the year he is 8-12 (66.7 percent) from the field and 7-7 at the charity stripe for an average of 3.8 ppg in 5.0 mpg.
BARRAGE FROM 3-POINT LAND
After making 25 total 3-pointers during their first seven contests, the Miners came alive from beyond-the-arc in the win against NNMC on Dec. 3. UTEP set season highs for makes (11) and percentage (44.0). It was a well-rounded effort, with Shamar Givance (3-5), Carlos Lemus (2-5), Mario McKinney Jr (2-3) and Jamari Sibley (2-4) all boasting multiple connections from distance.
PROGRESS AT THE CHARITY STRIPE
UTEP connected on 58.4 percent (94-161) at the free-throw line over its first six games, but it has been much sharper the past two tilts. The Miners have drilled 75.3 percent (49-65) in the time frame. Five different players are at least 90.0 during the recent surge, with Shamar Givance (12-13, 92.3 percent) and Tae Hardy (11-12, 91.7 percent) taking and making the most to lead the way.
A HISTORY WITH CHICAGO PLAYERS
The Miners have a tremendous lineage of players from Chicago including Hall of Famer Tim Hardaway, 1,000-point scorers Antoine Gillespie (1,706 points), the late Ralph Davis (1,315 points) and Johnny Melvin (1,142 points) plus Marlon Maxey (ninth all time at UTEP with 18 double-doubles) and Carl Davis (seventh all time at UTEP for career 3-pointers with 132).
PLAYING IN THE WINDY CITY
UTEP hasn’t played in the Windy City since facing BYU there on Jan. 26, 1968. The Miners also challenged Illinois, Loyola-Chicago and another game against BYU, all in Chicago, during the calendar year 1967.
IN THE “PRAIRIE STATE”
UTEP has won three straight games in the state of Illinois, most recently defeating Bradley, 82-63, on Dec. 9, 1989. The Miners also bested both Western Illinois and Southern Illinois to win the Saluki Shootout in Dec. of 1984.
WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE
UTEP has shot out to 6-0 at home, equaling the best start inside the Don Haskins Center in three years. The 2019-20 edition opened up at 9-0 in El Paso before finishing with a home mark of 13-4.
TAKING DOWN 2022 POSTSEASON TEAMS
Three of the Miners’ six wins this year have come against teams that played postseason basketball a year ago, including two that went to the NCAA tournament. UTEP knocked off NM State (2022 NCAA second round) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2022 NCAA first four), in addition to Alcorn State (2022 NIT). All three of those teams won their conference.
Three of the Miners’ victories this year have been by five points or less, demonstrating their toughness and grit. UTEP toppled NM State by three (67-64, Nov. 12), CSU Bakersfield by one (68-67, OT, Nov. 23) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi by five (72-67, Nov. 25).
UTEP has held four of its past five opponents to below 40 percent from the floor. That included three straight foes shooting below that readout for the first time since a six-game stretch to wrap up the 2019-20 campaign. NM State (57.7 percent, Nov. 30) and then No. 12 Texas (54.8 percent, Nov. 7) are the only Miner opponents this year to hit at least 50 percent from the floor. Overall, foes have been held to 42.4 percent compared to UTEP’s readout of 46.8 percent (sixth C-USA/99th NCAA).
LOCK THEM DOWN
Six of UTEP’s eight opponents have been held to below 70 points, with only NM State (95 points, Nov. 30) and then No. 12 Texas (72 points, Nov. 7) managing to do so. Overall, UTEP has a +7.3 scoring margin (74.1-66.9).
CLOSING OUT GAMES
Even though the Miners have had some close calls this year, they are 6-0 on the season when they have a lead with 5:00 to play in the contest. UTEP is also perfect on the season (6-0) when up at the half.
C-USA GETTING IT DONE OUT OF CONFERENCE
All 11 Conference USA schools sport a record of 500 or better (through Dec. 7), with Florida Atlantic (8-1), WKU (7-1), and UAB (7-1) each having just one loss to this point in the year. Overall, league teams have combined to forge a record of 69-23.
GETTING TO THE LINE
UTEP has been aggressive offensively, which has resulted in it going to the line early and often. The Miners are attempting 28.2 tosses per contest (first C-USA/second NCAA), aiding by piling up 43 attempts against Alcorn State on Nov. 22. It marked the most free throw attempts by UTEP since taking 47 in a season-opening victory against Loyola on Nov. 14, 2016. UTEP’s 17.9 free throws made per contest is second in the conference and 17th in the nation. Overall, UTEP has attempted 226 free throws compared to 155 by the opposition. Tae Hardy (30-42), Calvin Solomon (17-34) and Shamar Givance (25-33) all have 30+ attempts.
HARDY DOING IT ALL
Southern Miss transfer Tae Hardy is doing a little bit of everything this year, pacing the Miners in scoring (12.9 ppg) while rating second in blocks per game (0.8 bpg) and assists per game (2.3). He’s also shown tremendous endurance, rating second in the league at 32:46 minutes per game. Hardy has been a consistent scorer, tallying at least eight points in all eight contests of the season, including a pair of 20+ point efforts.
GIVANCE GETTING GOING
Evansville transfer Shamar Givance has been finding his groove, particularly with putting up points. Over the last five games the Toronto, Canada, native is accounting for 11.0 ppg (41.7 shooting), aided by going 21-28 (75.0 percent) at the charity stripe during the stretch. That includes a trio of double-digit scoring efforts. He has come up clutch as well, making two free throws with 3.0 seconds left to help lift UTEP to a 68-67 OT win against CSUB on Nov. 23. The first three tilts of the campaign, Givance produced 4.3 ppg (23.5 percent shooting). Throughout the entire season, he has gotten his teammates involved with a squad-leading 3.9 assists per game (sixth C-USA). Overall, the recent scoring burst has elevated his season average to 8.5 ppg (tied third on team).
NM State transfer Mario McKinney Jr. has been a big key to UTEP’s early success. He has come off the bench in all six appearances but is second on the team in scoring (11.8 ppg). McKinney Jr., has reached double figures four times, including a career-high 24 points on the road against his former squad on Nov. 30. He has also gotten after it on the glass, checking in third on the unit for rebounding (4.8 rpg).
ONYEMA STEPPING UP
After failing to reach double figures in scoring over his first two seasons with the Orange and Blue, forward Ze’Rik Onyema did so in the first five games his year. He also recorded his first career double-double (10 points, career-high 10 rebounds in the win vs. Alcorn State on Nov. 22. He tops the squad in rebounding (5.9 rpg), is second in field-goal percentage (69.2) and tied for third with scoring (8.5 ppg). He put up 2.0 ppg and 1.6 rpg in 2021-22.
KALU FINISHING AT THE RIM
Kevin Kalu has done good work inside, making 16-of-20 for a team-leading 80.0 field-goal percentage on the season. Overall, he is putting up 5.1 ppg (1.5 ppg as a freshman last year).
POINTS ACROSS THE BOARD
Seven different players are scoring between 7.0 and 13.0 points per game thus far. Tae Hardy (12.9 ppg) and Mario McKinney Jr. (11.8 ppg) are in double figures to lead the way while Ze’Rik Onyema (8.5 ppg), Otis Frazier III (8.5 ppg), Shamar Givance (8.5 ppg), Jamari Sibley (7.1 ppg) and Calvin Solomon (7.1 ppg) round out the group. It’s early in the year, but the last time the Orange and Blue had at least seven players contribute 7.0 or more ppg in a season was in 2017-18
UTEP has forced all eight opponents on the year to commit at least 15 turnovers. It is the longest stretch to begin a season since the 1974-75 team harassed the initial 12 foes to make 15+ giveaways. Overall, the opposition is averaging 20.0 turnovers per game (first Conference USA/20th NCAA). That figure was aided by forcing the most turnovers (32) by a Miner opponent in nine years in the win against Sul Ross State on Nov. 15.
GIVE ME THAT BALL
UTEP’s pressure defense has resulted in 9.9 steals per game to lead Conference USA and place 22nd in the country. Aiding that figure was a school-record 24 steals in the victory against Sul Ross State on Nov. 15. Six different Miners had at least three steals in the contest to help them surge past the prior school standard of 21 which had stood since 1994 (against Cardinal Stich on Dec. 20, 1994). Several of those thefts were the result of UTEP players hitting the deck in pursuit of loose balls, even with the game well in hand. Most recently, the Miners posted 17 thefts (tied seventh all time at school) against Northern New Mexico College on Dec. 3. The Orange and Blue are currently on pace for 317 steals this season, which would break the school record (288, 2009-10).
THE BENCH BUNCH
The Miners’ bench has provided at least 15 points in all eight games this year (six with 24+ points), including going off for a season-high 51 against Sul Ross State on Nov. 15. Overall, UTEP reserves are contributing 28.9 points per game to rank third in Conference USA and 49th nationally. Super sub Mario McKinney Jr. has been vital in this category, contributing 11.8 ppg while coming off the pine in all six of his appearances.
GET OUT AND RUN
The Miners have used the opponent’s 20.0 turnovers per game to help them get out into transition for easy baskets. The Orange and Blue are accounting for 12.8 fastbreak points per game, which is fifth in Conference USA and 87th in the country.
DON’T TRY THE 3
UTEP has been stingy at shutting down opponents from 3-point range, with foes shooting 29.2 from beyond-the-arc. That effort is third in Conference USA and 68th in the nation. Helping those numbers has been holding four different opponents to below 25.0 percent in 3-point tries.
KNOCKING DOWN SHOTS
UTEP has connected on 46.8 percent from the floor, which is sixth in Conference USA and 99th nationally. The Miners have hit at least 40.0 of their shots in all eight games. UTEP has been particularly accurate with 2-point attempts, making 57.0 percent inside the arc.
UTEP went to overtime in back-to-back contests at the Jim Forbes Classic presented by Speaking Rock, defeating Alcorn State, 73-61, in double OT on Nov. 22 before besting CSUB, 68-67, in OT on Nov. 23. It marked the first time since the 2016-17 season that the Miners posted consecutive wins in OT. That year UTEP knocked off FIU (88-87, 2OT, 1/14/17) and Florida Atlantic (66-65, OT, 1/16/17) in back-to-back contests during the 2016-17 season. Overall, UTEP is now 69-46 all time in overtime contests, including 3-1 under head coach Joe Golding.
WHAT A CROWD
UTEP played in front of an almost capacity crowd of 11,315 fans in the win against NM State on Nov. 12. It marked the largest home attendance for the Miners since an actual sellout (12,000) of the Don Haskins Center when they beat WKU, 93-89, in a game commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Texas Western NCAA Champions.
THERE WAS PLENTY OF PRODUCTION TO REPLACE
Between Jamari Sibley, Kevin Kalu and Ze’Rik Onyema, the Miners returned just 20.8 percent of their rebounding, 11.1 percent of their scoring and 9.0 percent of their assists from the 2021-22 squad. In total, the Miners lost four starters and 12 letter winners from last year’s squad, including a pair of All-Conference USA performers in Souley Boum (second team) and Jamal Bieniemy (third team).
UTEP lost four starters and 12 letter winners from last year’s team, giving the Miners a new look in year two under head coach Joe Golding. UTEP brought in six Division I transfers (Otis Frazier III, George Mason, Shamar Givance, Evansville, Tae Hardy, Southern Miss, Garrett Levesque, Tarleton State, Mario McKinney Jr., NM State and Calvin Solomon, Stephen F. Austin) while adding four junior-college transfers (Jon Dos Anjos, Florida SouthWestern College), Derick Hamilton, Bossier Parish CC, Carlos Lemus, Chipola College and Malik Zachery, South Plains) and two true freshmen (Antwonne Holmes, Chapin HS, El Paso, Texas, and Jamal Sumlin, Rhodes HS, Cleveland, Ohio). It should be noted that Dos Anjos spent his freshman campaign at Loyola Marymount (Calif.) before going the junior-college route.
EXPERIENCED D1 TRANSFERS
The Miners’ six DI transfers combined to play in 379 contests, including making 165 starts, prior to their arrival in the Sun City. Shamar Givance (Evansville, 118 GP, 63 GS) and Calvin Solomon (Stephen F. Austin, 82 GP, 56 GS) are the most experienced of the bunch, but Otis Frazier III, George Mason, 35 GP), Mario McKinney Jr. (NM State, 38 GP, 5 GS) and Tae Hardy (Southern Miss, 30 GP, 26 GS) also have 30+ appearances.
UTEP is 6-0 at home thus far, matching the best start in three years. The 2019-20 edition shot out to a 9-0 start in El Paso before ultimately concluding the season with a mark of 13-4 at the Don Haskins Center. The Miners are scheduled ot play 18 total times in the Don Haskins Center, including 10 Conference USA tilts. UTEP will also play host to the 61st-annual WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational (Dec. 21-22). The Miners are well on their way to a fourth straight season with 10+ wins. Aiding in that effort was UTEP leading C-USA in total attendance (88,125) with nearly 90,000 fans passing through the turnstiles.
LIFE ON THE ROAD
UTEP is 0-2 on the road, including falling at No. 12 Texas, 72-57, in its season opener on Nov. 7. It marked the first time to begin the season with a true road game since a 73-61 victory at Pac-12 foe Washington on Nov. 21, 2000. Overall, the Miners will have 13 road games (0-2 thus far) on the year (three nonconference, 10 C-USA). UTEP went 7-6 in 2021-22 on the road, its first winning road record since forging a mark of 8-2 in 2013-14. Saturday’s tilt at DePaul is the final nonconference road game of the regular season.
The Miners will have 17 contests (0-2 thus far in situation) to be broadcast/streamed on nationwide platforms, with 13 on ESPN+, and one each on ESPNU, FS1, the Longhorn Network and Stadium. The next opportunity to shine comes Saturday at DePaul, with it being broadcast nationally by FS1.
A YEAR IN REVIEW
– UTEP (20-14) posted its first 20+ win season since going 22-11 in 2014-15. It marked the 27th 20+ win campaign in program history.
– The Miners notched their first postseason appearance since 2015 and first postseason win since 2009.
– The Miners finished 11-7 in league play to secure their first winning conference record since forging a mark of 12-6 in 2016-17. That was aided by winning 10 of 14 down the stretch, including halting back-to-back C-USA West Division Champion North Texas’ 15-game winning streak, 70-68, on “Senior Day” on March 5.
– UTEP downed Old Dominion, 74-64, on March 9 for its first victory at the C-USA Championships in five years.
– UTEP’s seven road wins were the most since going 8-2 in 2013-14.
– The Miners had their first winning road record (5-4) in league play since 2016-17.
– UTEP’s five league road wins surpassed its total (four) of such games from the prior three seasons combined.
– UTEP had a six-game conference USA winning streak (Jan. 15 to Feb. 5), which was its longest since also posting six straight wins in 2016 (2/4-20/16). It marked the fifth winning streak of at least six C-USA games since the Miners joined the league in 2005-06.
THE BASIC FACTS ON UTEP
– This is the 102nd season of UTEP men’s basketball. The Miners made history by starting five African-Americans to defeat Kentucky, 72-65, and win the 1966 NCAA Championship on the way to inspiring the Disney hit movie Glory Road. Overall, UTEP has 17 NCAA Tournament appearances (last in 2010), 11 NIT bids (last in 2015), 12 conference championships (last in 2010) and 27 seasons with at least 20+ victories (last in 2022). The Miners have won five league tournaments (last in 2005).
– The Miners have a strong presence in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with Don Haskins, Nate Archibald, Nolan Richardson, the 1966 team and Tim Hardaway all representing UTEP.
– UTEP finished 20-14 in 2021-22, which was its most wins since going 22-11 in 2014-15.
– The Miners returned one starter (Jamari Sibley), and eight letter winners overall. The two other returning letter winners are Kevin Kalu and Ze’Rik Onyema.
– UTEP has 12 newcomers: Jon Dos Anjos, Otis Frazier III, Shamar Givance, Derick Hamilton, Tae Hardy, Antwonne Holmes, Carlos Lemus, Garrett Levesque, Mario McKinney Jr., Calvin Solomon, Jamal Sumlin and Malik Zachery.
GET TO KNOW COACH GOLDING
Joe Golding is in his second year at UTEP and is the 20th head coach in program history. He is the eighth head coach for the Miners since legendary Hall of Fame Coach Don Haskins retired following the 1998-99 season. Golding is 184-160 in his 12th season as a collegiate head coach, including 26-16 at UTEP. Last year he became the fourth head coach (20 total) in program history to have a winning season in their first year on the sideline. Don Haskins was the first when he directed the Miners to a mark of 18-6 in 1961-62. Doc Sadler (27-8, 2004-05) and Tim Floyd (25-10, 2010-11) also achieved the feat. Overall, the prior 19 head coaches combined to forge an average record of 9-13 in their first year with UTEP. Previously Golding spent 10 years at Abilene Christian (158-144), helping it transition from a Division II to a Division I program. Golding led the Wildcats to the 2019 and 2021 NCAA Tournaments, including a stunning upset as a 14-seed of third-seeded Texas in the first round of the 2021 Big Dance.
UTEP was predicted to finish eighth out of 11 teams in Conference USA for the 2022-23 season, but keep in mind that last year’s edition of the Miners was underestimated. The Orange and Blue were tabbed to finish in 10th place a year ago before tying for the fifth-most wins in league play by forging a mark of 11-7 in 18 C-USA tilts. Overall UAB was predicted to finish first, followed by WKU and North Texas at second and third, respectively.
UTEP has a week off before opening up Conference USA before Christmas for the first time when it plays host to LA Tech at 6 p.m. MT on Dec. 17. The game will be broadcast on 600 ESPN El Paso and streamed on CUSA.tv (subscription required). Tickets are available by visiting www.UTEPMiners.com/or by calling (915) 747-UTEP. Any fan that donates a toy can buy a ticket to the game at the special group rate, starting at just $8. Furthermore, for just $32, fans can purchase four tickets to the game to provide vulnerable children and youth of our community with a fun and enriching experience. UTEP Athletics will match every purchase, doubling the impact of each contribution received. Tickets will be donated to the BOOST Network, a division of the United Way of El Paso County that works with organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of El Paso, Boy Scouts of America, and Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest.