The UTEP Miners (6-1) will open the 58th Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational with a contest against North Carolina A&T (3-7) on Monday night in the Haskins Center.
Kent State (8-1) and UC Irvine (5-5) will commence the nation’s oldest collegiate holiday basketball tournament with a 5 p.m. tipoff.
UTEP is looking to win its first Sun Bowl Tournament Championship since 2014 when it defeated Kent State, 78-75, on Dec. 22.
The Miners and Aggies is slated for a 7 p.m. start and can be heard on 600 ESPN El Paso as “The Voice of the UTEP Miners” Jon Teicher will call the action along with Steve Yellen with color analysis. The contest will also be streamed on CUSA.TV.
UTEP is 6-0 at home for the first time since the 2007-08 season after defeating Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 59-50, on Dec. 7.
The Miners’ defense only allowed 16 points in the second half, while Bryson Williams, who was named the Conference USA Men’s Basketball Player of the Week on Dec. 9, led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds. The redshirt junior added a trio of dimes with three steals and a blocked shot.
Williams has averaged 26.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game during the last three contests. He’s connected on 73.2 percent (30-41) of his buckets, while making 4-of-6 three-pointers and shooting an outstanding 88.2 percent (15-17) from the charity stripe.
Overall, Williams is shooting 70.4 percent from the field, ranking second in C-USA and fifth nationally. The Fresno, Calif., product also ranks ninth in C-USA in free-throws made (30), 10th in free-throw percentage (81.1) and third in defensive rebounds per game (6.1).
Souley Boum has been another bright spot for the Miners as the redshirt sophomore is ranked tied first nationally in free-throw percentage. Boum has been perfect (21-21) from the line to jumpstart his UTEP career. It’s the longest streak by a Miners since Omega Harris who made 22 straight foul shots during the 2017-18 season.
The Miners have made 76.4 percent (113-148) of their free throws, ranking third in the conference and 31st in the nation.
UTEP’s opponent North Carolina A&T is coming off an 83-52 loss at Bradley on Dec. 7. The Aggies’ most recent victory came against Longwood (52-41) on Dec. 4. A&T has also defeated Charleston Southern, 63-49, on Nov. 8 and Nicholls, 66-54, on Nov. 22.
North Carolina A&T senior Ronald Jackson leads his squad in points per game (12.2), while the 6-8 forward also paces the team in rebounds per game (8.5). Junior guard Kameron Langley leads the Aggies with 45 assists, ranks second in rebounds per game (5.3) and is tied for the team lead with 14 steals. Junior guard Tyler Maye ranks second on the team in points per game (9.3), while tallying 14 steals.