POSTED: Saturday, January 1, 2011 - 9:47pm
UPDATED: Saturday, January 1, 2011 - 10:42pm
UTEP (11-3) plays its first game of 2011 on Sunday against Sam Houston State (7-5). The Miners posted a 28-8 mark during the calendar year of 2010.
UTEP is also completing its 2010-11 pre-conference schedule versus the Bearkats. The Miners have entered league play with 12 victories just once in their history, during the 1983-84 season when they were 12-0 heading into the conference opener against Air Force.
With a victory over Sam Houston State, the Miners would have 10 straight home wins for the first time since the 2006-07 season. UTEP hasn't won 11 consecutive games at the Don Haskins Center since early in the 2004-05 campaign.
The Bearkats are nearing the end of a 10-day stay in El Paso after participating in the Bank of the West Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational last week. Sam Houston State went 1-1 in the tournament with a loss to Air Force (76-65) and win over Western New Mexico (64-48). Senior forward Josten Crow was appointed to the All-Tournament team after averaging 13 points in the two games. Senior forward Gilberto Clavell put 24 points on the board in the loss to Air Force.
Clavell is averaging a team-leading 18.9 ppg and 7.3 rpg. Crow averages 14.3 ppg and 6.3 rpg. The Bearkats are 2-2 on the road, beating Colorado State (92-81) and Florida International (74-71) and losing to Texas (84-50) and Houston (75-73).
The Bearkats rank among the national leaders in three-point field goal percentage defense (.267) and assists per game (18.1).
Sam Houston State was 25-8 a year ago, won the Southland Conference tournament and dropped a 68-59 decision to Baylor in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bearkats lost three of their top four scorers from that team and have a new coach in Jason Hooten. One of Hooten's assistants, Alvin Brooks III, is the son of former Houston head coach and UTEP assistant Alvin Brooks.
UTEP leads the series 6-0. All five previous matchups took place in El Paso. The NCAA champion Miners opened their title defense versus SHSU on Dec. 1, 1966 and scored a 78-54 victory.
UTEP's average margin of victory in the series has been 14 points, with the closest game a 76-74 squeaker during the 1994-95 season.