UTEP to Face Marshall or Houston in C-USA Tournament Quarters
March 7, 2011
UTEP (23-8, 11-5 C-USA) is seeded third in the 2011 Buick Conference USA Championships, set for March 9-12 at the Don Haskins Center. The Miners will face the winner of Wednesday's opening round matchup between no. 6 Marshall and no. 11 Houston in Thursday's quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m. MT.
The Miners beat Marshall on March 2 at the Haskins Center, 82-74. UTEP swept Houston, winning 57-52 at Hofheinz Pavilion on Jan. 22 and 76-64 in El Paso on Feb. 19. The Miners have faced the Cougars in the C-USA Tournament each of the last three years.
The Miners have earned a top-four seed and first round bye in the tournament for the fourth time in six seasons as a league member. UTEP was seeded third in 2006, 10th in 2007, sixth in 2008, fourth in 2009 and first in 2010.
UTEP's all-time record as a no. 3 seed in conference tournaments is 2-3 (lost to Hawaii 66-65 in the 1995 WAC Tournament; beat SMU 74-70 and lost to Tulsa 59-56 in the 2001 WAC Tournament; beat Southern Miss 66-47 and lost to UAB 63-60 in the 2006 C-USA Tournament).
UTEP is 5-5 in C-USA Tournament games, reaching the semifinals in 2006 and 2008 and the final a year ago. The Miners' all-time conference tournament record is 32-20 (includes a forfeit against Hawaii in the 1996 WAC Tournament). UTEP captured WAC Tournament crowns in 1984, 1986, 1989, 1990 and 2005.
UTEP hosted WAC Tournament games in 1984, 1985 and 1990. The Miners played in the championship game three times and won the title in 1984 and 1990.
The no. 3 seed has posted an all-time record of 20-12 in the Conference USA Championships and has bowed out in the quarterfinals in two of the last three years. In 2008, sixth seed UTEP stunned third seed Houston in the quarters, 80-77, and last year UAB was upset by sixth seed Southern Miss 58-44.
The 3 seed has reached the tournament final seven times (Marquette 1996, Charlotte 1997, DePaul 2000, Charlotte 2001, Louisville 2003, Cincinnati 2004, Houston 2007), and won the title on three occasions (Charlotte `01, Louisville `03, Cincinnati `04).
Five Miner players scored in double figures for the second time this season in UTEP's 82-74 win over Marshall on March 2. Senior guard Randy Culpepper led the way with 24 points. The Miners shot 76.2 percent (16-for-21) over the final 20 minutes, the fifth-best field goal percentage in a half in school history. The Herd outrebounded UTEP 47-31, as Tirrell Baines recorded a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds. DeAndre Kane added 20 points for Marshall.
Culpepper averaged 25.5 points in two games versus Houston this season, netting 18 at Hofheinz Pavilion and 33 in the Haskins Center. He was 9-for-13 from the field and 12-for-12 from the line in the El Paso matchup. Senior forward Jeremy Williams put up 15 points at Hofheinz Pavilion and averaged 12.0 ppg in the two games. Senior guard Julyan Stone pulled down 23 rebounds and dished out 13 assists in the two games. Houston's leading scorers in the season series were senior guard Adam Brown (14.0 ppg) and freshman forward Alandise Harris (10.5 ppg).
UTEP leads the Marshall series 6-1 and is 3-0 versus the Herd at the Don Haskins Center with wins during the 2006-07 (88-64), 2008-09 (74-67) and 2010-11 (82-74) seasons. The Miners are 6-0 versus the Herd since joining C-USA, the only team they haven't lost to since joining the league. The Miners did lose their first-ever matchup with Marshall, 64-62, on Dec. 8, 1972 at the Bayou Classic in Lafayette, La.
UTEP holds a 12-8 advantage in the Houston series. The Miners have won nine of the 10 games played between the state rivals in El Paso. UTEP and Houston have played 15 games as members of C-USA, including three in the league's postseason tournament. Thirteen of the 15 games have been determined by eight points or fewer.