Miners to Face Tough Test in C-USA Opener

Julian Washburn

Jan. 7, 2013

UTEP-Tulane Game Notes (PDF)Get Acrobat Reader

After surviving a brutal non-conference schedule, the UTEP basketball team is ready to test its mettle when Conference USA play opens on Wednesday at Tulane.

The Last Meeting
February 11, 2012
Don Haskins Center
Bohannon Lifts UTEP Past Tulane in Overtime, 54-52
The Miners battled back from a seven-point deficit in the final 10 minutes of regulation before Bohannon scored five of the team's six points in OT on Saturday.

The Miners (6-6) and the Green Wave (12-3) will square off at the renamed and refurbished Devlin Fieldhouse in New Orleans at 6 p.m. MT.

Through Jan. 6, the Miners had played the seventh-toughest schedule in the country according to CBSSports.com behind Duke, Miami (Fla.), Colorado, Kansas, UC Santa Barbara and McNeese State.

UTEP's opponent winning percentage (.642) ranked seventh nationally behind Miami (Fla.), Duke, Kansas, Colorado, McNeese State and UC Santa Barbara, according to the website. The combined record of the six teams that beat UTEP was 64-18 through the games of Jan. 6 led by Arizona (14-0), Colorado State (13-2) and UNLV (13-2).

"I haven't seen anyone play a schedule like we have," Floyd said. "It has been a real challenge. You're either going to get better or you're going to get worse, and I think our team has gotten better. I think it's going to serve us well as we get into conference play."

The ultimate goal for the Miners is to win some league road games. They have dropped nine of their last 11, dating back to the end of the 2010-11 season.

A victory on the Green Wave's home floor would be huge. Tulane is 10-0 at Devlin Fieldhouse this season, one of three remaining C-USA teams with perfect marks on their home floor (Southern Miss and UAB are the others).

Complicating UTEP's quest is the fact that the Green Wave is good, perhaps scary good.

Junior forward Josh Davis has eight double-doubles in the last 13 games. He leads Conference USA in scoring (18.1 ppg), rebounding (10.3 rpg) and offensive rebounds (4.0 avg.). Davis is tied for eighth nationally in double-doubles (eight), and ranks first in Conference USA. He is 15th in the NCAA in rebounding.

Tulane is the C-USA leader in scoring defense (56.7 ppg) and rebound margin (+7.3 ppg). The Green Wave ranks 16th nationally in scoring defense, 19th in personal fouls per game (14.5), 31st in rebound margin and 33rd in turnovers per game (11.6).

Floyd said Tulane could finish "as high as top two or three in the conference" this season.

"They've got three guys who have potential to be first team All-Conference," he said. "Ricky Tarrant was on there a year ago. Kendall Timmons, I thought, should have been on there two years ago and he was injured last year. And now Davis is averaging 18 points and 10 boards. They're all on the same team with an additional 1,000-point scorer in Jordan Callahan. This is a team that can score, and they've always bothered us defensively."

UTEP is opening C-USA play on the road for the fourth time. The Miners are 2-1 in the situation with an 80-67 win at SMU on Jan. 11, 2006, a 74-68 win at SMU on Jan. 10, 2009, and a 76-60 loss at Marshall on Jan. 4, 2012. Overall UTEP is 6-1 in C-USA openers and 2-5 in C-USA road openers.

UTEP's all-time Conference USA record is 68-42. The Miners are 23-32 in C-USA road games.

Only Memphis (97) and UAB (74) have posted more C-USA victories than UTEP since the league's realignment for the 2005-06 season. UTEP has registered at least 10 Conference USA wins in three of the last four seasons.



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