Miners Face Major Road Test at BYU
Dec. 22, 2010
UTEP (9-2) makes its first visit to Provo since 1999 when it takes on longtime rival BYU (11-1) on Thursday at the Marriott Center. The Cougars are ranked 23rd in this week's Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Top-25 polls.
The Miners have won eight consecutive road games dating back to last season, tying the school record originally established over the course of the 1964-65 (last game) and 1965-66 (first seven games) campaigns. If UTEP is to extend the streak to nine in a row, it will have to do so versus a BYU team that has won 25 of its last 26 games in Provo.
The Cougars will be playing their first home game since Nov. 23 on Thursday. Their average margin of victory in the Marriott Center this season (4-0 record) is 33 points.
UTEP is 32-83 all-time versus ranked (AP poll) opponents, including 6-41 on the road. The Miners snapped an 18-game losing streak in road games versus ranked teams with a 74-65, double overtime triumph at no. 25 UAB on Jan. 30, 2010.
UTEP is 2-5 when facing ranked BYU teams in Provo. Both of the victories came during the 1987-88 season. On March 5, 1988, the Miners knocked off the 15th-rated Cougars, 83-80 in overtime, behind 45 points from Tim Hardaway (24) and Chris Sandle (21). Six days later, fourth seed UTEP handed top seed BYU a 66-63 setback in the semifinals of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. Sandle tallied 18 points, and the Miners shot 46.8 percent from the floor and 78.3 percent from the line to compensate for being outrebounded 40-24.
The Cougars rebounded from their first loss of the season -- an 86-79 defeat at UCLA on Dec. 18 -- and won at Weber State, 72-66, on Tuesday. Senior guard Jimmer Fredette led BYU with 28 points.
Fredette ranks eighth nationally in scoring, averaging 24.2 ppg, and rates seventh on BYU's all-time scoring list with 1,821 points. Senior guard Jackson Emery (11.4 ppg) and sophomore forward Brandon Davies (10.6 ppg) also have double figure scoring averages.
The Cougars rank among the national leaders in scoring offense (82.2 ppg), scoring margin (+18.1 ppg), turnovers per game (10.8), turnover margin (+5.4), three-point field goal percentage defense (.299) and assist/turnover ratio (1.3).
Thursday's game marks the 66th meeting between UTEP and BYU, with the Cougars holding a 40-25 edge. BYU is 24-9 against the Miners in games played at Provo, although the teams have split the last six matchups there.
Tim Floyd has faced BYU once previously as a head coach. His first USC team beat the Cougars, 74-68, on Dec. 3, 2005 at Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. The Trojans led 58-40 midway through the second half of that game before holding off a furious BYU rally down the stretch.
During Floyd's eight seasons as a UTEP assistant (1978-86), the Miners posted a 5-11 record versus the Cougars (4-4 in El Paso, 1-7 at Provo).