UTEP Defense Clicking Just In Time For C-USA Play
If UTEP’s defensive effort in its last few games is any indication of how the Miners plan to stop the strong offenses in Conference USA, then Friday’s league tilt with Tulsa is setting up to be a very exciting game.
UTEP (8-5, 0-1 C-USA), which has won four consecutive and five of its last six, has held its last four opponents to 54.8 points per game and a combined 33 percent shooting.
On the season, the Miners rank 16th in the nation in field-goal percentage defense at 34.4 percent. UTEP’s 58.8 scoring defense leads C-USA and is 64th nationally.
Tulsa (10-2, 1-0 C-USA), also winners of four straight, brings a high-powered offense that is scoring 67.7 points per game on the season with all five starters averaging at least 8.1 points per contest.
TU’s big gun is All-America candidate Jillian Robbins. Following Monday’s 19-point, 16-rebound performance in the Golden Hurricane’s 73-54 win over SMU, the junior forward is averaging 18.3 points and 14.9 rebounds through 12 games. Not only is her rebounding average tops in the nation, but she is pulling down 6.2 offensive boards a game 2.5 more than the next highest player in C-USA.
The Golden Hurricane have topped 70 points five times this season, while the Miners have only allowed one team to reach more than 68 in their 13 ball games.
UTEP has also forced eight shot clock violations in the last three games, thanks to strong on-ball defense and an inside game headed up by sophomore center Izabela Piekarska. Her 33 blocks are the 13th-most thus far in the country and her 13 steals rank fourth on a Miner squad that has posted at least 10 steals on five occasions.
Friday’s game between UTEP’s top-ranked C-USA scoring defense and Tulsa’s No. 3-ranked C-USA scoring offense will tip-off at 7:05 p.m. Mountain time at the Don Haskins Center. Adult tickets are $6.50 and youth tickets are $3.50. UTEP students are admitted free with a valid identification card.