POSTED: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 6:38pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - 7:26pm
For Conference USA Tournament information, please visit: http://c-usa.utep.edu 
UTEP (21-8, 9-5 C-USA) plays its final home game of the regular season on Wednesday against surging Marshall (20-9, 8-6 C-USA). The Herd has won five straight games and seven of nine and has emerged victorious in its last two road contests, at East Carolina on Feb. 12 (78-65) and at Tulane on Feb. 19 (79-75 in overtime). The Miners are tied for second place in the C-USA standings with Memphis, Southern Miss and Tulsa with two games remaining in the regular season. UAB leads the pack, a game up on the Miners with a 10-4 mark. Marshall is tied with sixth place with SMU. UTEP will face the Mustangs on Saturday afternoon in Dallas before hosting the C-USA Tournament March 9-12. Eight Miner seniors will be honored at Wednesday’s game -- Claude Britten, Randy Culpepper, Isaac Gordon, Eric Munoz, Christian Polk, Wayne Portalatin, Julyan Stone and Jeremy Williams. This year’s senior class ties the second-largest in school history with the 2005-06 squad. UTEP has won its final home game of the regular season in six of the last seven years, the exception being a 78-67 loss to sixth-ranked Memphis on March 1, 2007. The Miners are 16-2 at home this season and with a victory would have 17 wins in the Haskins Center for the first time since the 1991-92 campaign, when they finished 17-1 in the venue.
Junior guard Damier Pitts scored 19 points as Marshall topped SMU, 64-62, on Saturday at the Cam Henderson Center. Marshall hasn’t lost since Feb. 9, when it was upended by UAB, 64-48, in Huntington.
The Herd is 6-6 on the road this season, including 3-4 in league play with wins at Houston (63-62), East Carolina and Tulane. Freshman guard DeAndre Kane leads the team in scoring with 15.1 points per game, followed by Pitts (15.5 ppg) and senior forward Tirrell Baines (12.4 ppg). Marshall is first in C-USA in three-point field goal percentage defense (.289), and third in scoring offense (73.0 ppg), field goal percentage (.456), field goal percentage defense (.410) and rebound margin (+4.4 avg.). Kane is the highest-scoring freshman in the league, and junior swingman Dago Pena ranks second in C-USA in three-point percentage (.438).
UTEP leads the series 5-1 and is 2-0 versus the Herd at the Don Haskins Center with wins during the 2006-07 (88-64) and 2008-09 (74-67) seasons. The Miners are 5-0 versus the Herd since joining C-USA, the only team they haven’t lost to since joining the league. The Miners did lose their first-ever matchup with Marshall, 64-62, on Dec. 8, 1972 at the Bayou Classic in Lafayette, La. UTEP’s Tim Floyd is 0-1 against Marshall with a 65-58 loss in the Hawaii Early Season Tournament on Dec. 11, 1987 -- his second season as a collegiate head coach at Idaho.Floyd has never coached against Marshall’s Tom Herrion.
THE LAST MEETING
Randy Culpepper scored 32 points -- including 22 in the second half -- to lead UTEP to an 80-76 victory over Marshall on March 3, 2010 in Huntington, W. Va. The Miners snapped the Herd’s seven-game winning streak.
UTEP was ahead 62-51 with nine minutes remaining but surrendered the lead and needed a strong finish from Derrick Caracter, who scored 10 of his 18 points in the final five minutes. His layup with 31 seconds remaining put the Miners ahead 78-76.
Marshall lost the ball out of bounds with 10 seconds remaining and Culpepper completed the scoring with two free throws. Culpepper hit a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to slice a 10-point Marshall lead down to seven, then made three more in the first 2:28 of the second half, plus a free throw, to erase a 10-point deficit and put the Miners ahead 41-38. Culpepper followed a soaring, one-handed dunk with another three-pointer that gave UTEP its largest lead, 62-51, with 9:25 left. Despite Culpepper’s show, Marshall surged ahead by going after rebounds. The Thundering Herd made three baskets after missed shots in a two-minute span and Damier Pitts’ three-pointer with four minutes left gave Marshall a short-lived 72-68 lead.