UTEP to Tackle Demanding Late-Season Stretch Starting at Tulane
Feb. 18, 2014
UTEP (19-7, 9-2 C-USA) will play four of its last five Conference USA games on the road, starting on Thursday at Tulane (14-12, 6-5 C-USA).
UTEP is gunning for a 20-win season for the first time since 2010-11 and the 25th time in school history.
The Miners are 5-1 on the road for the first time since the 2000-01 season, when they had the same mark through six games. UTEP also opened 5-1 on the road during the 1983-84 campaign. The Miners haven't started 6-1 or better in their first seven road games since the national championship season of 1965-66 (7-0).
"We've been pretty good on the road," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. "Some of that has had to do with some good fate and fortune and other teams taking us a little lightly. I don't think that will be the case this late in the year with us being tied for first [in the conference]. We are facing two quality teams in Tulane and Southern Miss [this week]. We're going to have to play great."
Tulane has won three of its last four games and has a three-game winning streak at Devlin Fieldhouse. The Green Wave is 10-4 at home, including 3-1 versus C-USA opponents (lost to LA Tech 73-45, beat Rice 58-41, beat Charlotte 64-63, beat Marshall 68-65).
The Green Wave has three guards averaging better than 13 points per game -- sophomore Louis Dabney (16.7 ppg), freshman Jonathan Stark (14.7 ppg) and junior Jay Hook (13.7 ppg). They rank 4-11-14 in Conference USA in scoring. Tulane is the only team in the league with three players listed among the top-15 scorers. Stark leads Conference USA and ranks 17th nationally, averaging 36:55 minutes per game.
Tulane is second in C-USA In free throw percentage (.700), with Hook leading the way at 83.6 percent. The team's top three scorers -- Dabney, Stark and Hook -- shoot 75.9 percent (333-for-439) from the stripe collectively.
Tulane is fourth in C-USA in three-point field goal percentage (.349), as Hook shoots 46.7 percent from beyond the arc. He is second in the league in three-point accuracy.
"Tulane is getting a lot of scoring from their guards," Floyd said. "Until 11 games ago they had three guys averaging 20 points a game, which was unprecedented. I don't remember playing against three perimeter players averaging those kinds of points. It has dropped a little bit. But they're very capable and very well coached. We're going to have to try to get the ball inside, but they do such a great job of not allowing that and disrupting that. They're a quality basketball team."