Miners to Face Washington State For First Time on Saturday
Dec. 20, 2013
UTEP will play its second true road game of the season, and its first in over a month, on Saturday at Washington State.
"This is the opening of a new four-year series with Washington State," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. "They will be in our building a year from now along with another Pac-12 team, Arizona."
The Miners (6-5) and the Cougars (6-4) will square off in Pullman at 6:30 p.m. MT. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.
The Cougars started the season 2-0, then lost four of five before stringing together three consecutive wins.
Junior Davonté Lacy leads Washington State, averaging 20.2 points per game. He is shooting 49.2 percent from the field, 42 percent from three-point range and 79.5 percent from the line. Junior Royce Woolridge, the son of former NBA star Orlando Woolridge, averages 11.0 ppg. He transferred in from Kansas.
"What we're looking at are a couple of Pac-12 level guards in Lacy and Woolridge, that have been outstanding this year," Floyd said. "They're going to present problems for us in the open floor."
Washington State's top rebounder is senior forward D.J. Shelton (7.4 avg.), who also averages 7.4 ppg. He has made 16-of-20 free throws in 2013-14.
The Cougars have three players 6-10 or taller who see significant action in Shelton, Josh Hawkinson (1.5 ppg/2.2 rpg) and Jordan Railey (4.6 ppg/3.5 rpg). Railey stands 7-0, 245 pounds and transferred from Iowa State.
The Cougars have allowed 65.3 points per game this season, including 59.0 on average during their three-game winning streak.
"It's a very aggressive defense that likes to overplay, which will be something we'll have to be prepared for," Floyd said.
The Miners regained some confidence with an 84-74 victory over Northwestern State Thursday, on the heels of a 71-69 loss to New Orleans earlier in the week.
"We did some things well in our last ballgame which we hope carries over," Floyd said. "Our ability to rebound, our ability to get back on defense against the leading scoring team in the country and holding them to 16 points less than what they were averaging, were all positives."
Now the Miners face a stern test in the Cougars as they try to post their first non-conference road victory in over three years.
"In this case with Washington State, they have a 15-point win against Purdue, something which is very impressive. They played Butler to the wire," Floyd said. "So we know that they're a very capable basketball team and a team that if we let their guards dominate the game, we're going to have big problems."
This is the first meeting between UTEP and Washington State. UTEP will be facing a Pac-12 opponent on the road for the third year in a row (Oregon 2011, Arizona 2012).