MINERS
Miners Rout East Carolina To Set Up Crucial C-USA Showdown

Stefon Jackson and his grandmother Lena, making her first visit to El Paso to watch him play, were all smiles after Saturday's UTEP victory.

Stefon Jackson and his grandmother Lena, making her first visit to El Paso to watch him play, were all smiles after Saturday's UTEP victory.

Feb. 23, 2008

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Stefon Jackson scored a career high 41 points as UTEP blasted East Carolina, 91-62, on Saturday at the Don Haskins Center.

The victory moved the Miners (16-9, 7-5 C-USA) into a tie for fourth place in the Conference USA standings with Southern Miss and UCF. The top four teams receive byes in the first round of the C-USA Tournament.

Now UTEP has two huge home games remaining against UAB and Houston, who are both 9-3 in C-USA and tied for second place. Up first is a date with the Blazers, who beat the Miners in Birmingham on Feb. 9. Tip-off will be 7:05 p.m. MST on Wednesday.

After the Miners pounced on East Carolina (8-17, 2-10 C-USA), which has lost 23 straight C-USA road games, UTEP coach Tony Barbee thanked the 8,139 fans in attendance while campaigning for a sellout versus UAB.

"I hope this community understands that this team is giving everything it has on the floor," Barbee said. "We need a sellout on Wednesday night. This is a big game."

Jackson scored UTEP's first 16 points to start the second half as the Miners extended a 37-26 lead to 53-36. He finished with 30 points in the second half, marking the fifth time this season that he has scored 20 or more in a period.

Jackson became the third Miner to score 40 points in a game, and the first since Antoine Gillespie netted 45 points against Hawaii on Feb. 17, 1994. Jim Barnes had five 40-point games for the Miners in the '60s.

The 21 free throws made and 27 attempted by Jackson are Conference USA records. He also tied the school record for free throws made and set the school standard for free throw attempts.

And he also picked up his seventh career double-double with 11 rebounds while playing in front of his grandmother Lena Jackson, who was making her first visit to El Paso.

Randy Culpepper and Marvin Kilgore each scored 11 points for UTEP. The only bad news for the Miners was Culpepper's 23-game streak with a three pointer -- five games shy of the school record -- came to an end as he was 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.

John Fields was the only player in double figures for East Carolina with 13 points. The Pirates shot 24 percent in the first half and 28.8 percent on the night.

UTEP and East Carolina combined to shoot 85 free throws, as the Miners were 34-for-50 at the stripe and the Pirates were 26-for-35.