EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The UTEP men’s basketball team (17-12, 10-7) will finish the regular season against back-to-back C-USA West Division champion North Texas (23 -4, 16-1) at 1 p.m. MT Saturday. This is the second meeting of the season between the programs with the Miners vying to avenge a hard-fought 66-58 loss to the Mean Green on February 3. North Texas is riding a 15-game winning streak, the most recent of which toppled UTSA on the road, 59-48. UTEP halted a two-game skid by defeating Rice, 70-67, to lock in the No. 4 seed in the C-USA West Division at the upcoming Heritage Landscape Conference USA Men’s Basketball Championships. SupplyGroup 2022.
DISCOVER NORTH TEXAS
North Texas is 23-4 on the year, including 16-1 in American Conference play. He has won 15 consecutive games and 21 of the last 22 since a 2-3 start to the season. It’s a win to break the C-USA single-season record for most league wins. The Mean Greens have won a conference championship in three consecutive seasons, and they are the only team in the country without a road loss. Its 55.1 scoring defense is on course to be the best in C-USA history, and it leads the nation. They are also league and national leaders in defense in 3-point percentage (27.5-first/fourth), scoring margin (10.7-second/24th), 3-point percentage (36.9 -third / 40th), the rebound margin (5.7-second / 51st) and percentage of defense in the basket (41.4 seconds / 73rd). Tylor Perry comes off the bench to lead the team in scoring (13.7 points per game), followed by Thomas Bell (12.4 points per game), Mardrez McBride (10.4 points per game) and Abou Ousmane (10, 4 points per game). Bell is getting 6.7 rebounds per game (10th in C-USA), while JJ Murray has 1.7 steals per game (seven in C-USA). The Mean Greens are finding their way in close games, as evidenced by an 11-3 record in decided single-digit games. Nine of his wins during the 15-game wave have been of this nature. Notable North Texas alumni include “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (professional wrestler), Jeff Coffin (jazz saxophone band member Dave Matthews), and “Mean” Joe Green (NFL Hall of Famer).
BACK IN TIME (AT UTEP 70, RICE 67 ON MARCH 3, 2022)
Keonte Kennedy came off the bench to score 16 points while Jamal Bieniemy recorded a double-double (12 points, 10 assists) to help lead UTEP to a 70-67 win over Rice on March 3. The Miners finished the season sweep of the Owls (15-14, 7-10), which was helped by keeping the visitors scoreless on the field for the game’s final 7:28. The defensive effort helped UTEP close the contest on a 12-4 run to turn a 63-58 deficit with 6:12 left in the three-point victory. All four points for the visitors during that span came at the free-throw line. Souley Boom (12 points) joined Bieniemy and Kennedy in double digits for scoring.
RICE GAME TIPS
– Jamal Bieniemy became the first Miner with a double-double in points and assists since Boom did it against Sul Ross State on Dec. 5, 2020.
– UTEP shot 53.7% from the floor, including 43.8% from 3 points.
– The Miners trailed by no fewer than 11 (56-45, 12:01 2H) before rallying for the win.
– The UTEP bench provided 32 points, their league record and the third highest total of the season.
– The Miners tied their most points in the conference paint with 32.
UTEP will meet with Old Dominion at 7:00 p.m. MT / 8:00 p.m. CT on March 9 at the 2022 Heritage Landscape Supply Group Conference USA Men’s Basketball Championships on March 9 at The Star in Frisco, TX. The Miners will be seeded fourth in the C-USA West division while the Monarchs will be seeded fifth in the C-USA East division. Jon Teicher (41st year) and Steve Yellen (19th grade) will be on call on “The Home of UTEP Basketball” 600 ESPN El Paso. It will also air on ESPN+. The winner will advance to challenge East Division top seed Middle Tennessee in the quarterfinals at 7:00 p.m. MT./8:00 p.m. CT on March 10.