Miners, North Texas to Meet For First Time Since 1974
Feb. 28, 2014
UTEP (20-9, 10-4 C-USA) closes out the regular season with back-to-back road games, starting on Sunday at North Texas (15-13, 6-8 C-USA). The Miners will play at UTSA on Thursday, March 6.
Sunday's game will be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel beginning at 1 p.m. MT.
UTEP is in fifth place in the C-USA standings, a game behind Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss and Tulsa who are tied for first at 11-3. The top four teams earn a double bye to the C-USA Championship March 11-15 in El Paso.
The schedule for the other C-USA contenders on Sunday includes Southern Miss at Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech at UAB and UTSA at Tulsa. Rice played at Middle Tennessee on Saturday.
UTEP can tie its second-most C-USA wins in a season with a victory over the Mean Green. The Miners were 15-1 in league play in 2009-10, 11-3 in 2005-06 and 11-5 in 2010-11.
North Texas is wrapping up the regular season with consecutive home games against UTEP and Tulsa (March 6).
The Mean Green has a four-game winning streak, including three straight road wins over FIU, Florida Atlantic and UTSA.
North Texas has been a streaky team this season. The Mean Green has had winning streaks of four games (twice) and three games (once), and had a season-long five-game losing skid from Jan. 25-Feb. 13.
The Mean Green is 9-5 at home, including 2-4 in C-USA action. North Texas has beaten UAB (76-65) and East Carolina (53-51) at the Super Pit while falling to Southern Miss (74-64), Tulane (73-62), Middle Tennessee (70-63) and Old Dominion (72-62).
Junior guard Jordan Williams (12.5 ppg) and senior guard Alzee Williams (11.1 ppg) are the team's leading scorers. They are both from Dallas but are not related.
Tony Benford is in his second season as North Texas' head coach. The Hobbs, N.M. native was previously an assistant at New Mexico, Arizona State, Nebraska and Marquette.
Benford was an assistant coach at UTEP -- for a little under a month. He was appointed to Doc Sadler's staff on July 21, 2006. When Sadler stepped down to become the head coach at Nebraska two and a half weeks later, Benford joined him at Lincoln.
Mean Green Assistant Coach David Anwar was also a member of Sadler's UTEP staff, serving as Director of Basketball Operations from 2004-06. Mean Green Assistant Coach Scott Monarch coached former UTEP star Omar Thomas (2003-05) at Panola College.
This is the first meeting between the teams since the 1974-75 season, and the seventh all-time with UTEP holding a 4-2 lead. The Miners are playing in Denton for the first time since Feb. 26, 1964, when they won 62-56 behind All-American Jim Barnes (22 points, 14 rebounds). Barnes also had 29 points and 21 rebounds in a Nov. 30, 1963 matchup in El Paso.
UTEP is 1-2 all-time in Denton with losses during the 1951-52 and 1952-53 seasons. Since then the Miners have peeled off four straight wins over the Mean Green.