UTEP (7-7) and Marshall (9-4) tip off Conference USA play before a national television audience on Wednesday at 6 p.m. MT in Huntington. CBS Sports Network will have coverage of the game with Dave Ryan (play-by-play) and Pete Gillen (analyst) calling the action.
UTEP is 6-0 in Conference USA openers. Four of the wins have come against SMU. The Miners won at SMU in 2006 (80-67) and 2009 (74-68), and knocked off the Mustangs in El Paso in 2008 (79-66) and 2010 (49-45). In 2007, UTEP won its C-USA opener at home against UAB (76-63). Last year the Miners beat Tulsa at the Haskins Center, 69-59, to christen the league slate.
Overall the Miners have won seven straight league openers dating back to their days in the Western Athletic Conference, a school record.
UTEP begins its seventh C-USA season on Wednesday at Marshall. The Miners were 11-3 in league play in 2006, 6-10 in 2007, 8-8 in 2008, 10-6 in 2009, 15-1 in 2010 and 11-5 in 2011 for a composite ledger of 61-33. Only Memphis (84) and UAB (65) have more C-USA wins since 2005.
UTEP & C-USA ROAD GAMES
UTEP is 22-25 in Conference USA road games since joining the league for the 2005-06 season (4-4 last season). UTEP has won 13 of its last 19 C-USA road games dating back to the 2008-09 season.
UTEP is 2-4 in C-USA road openers with a win at SMU (80-67) in 2006, a loss at Tulsa (86-79 in OT) in 2007, a loss at Houston (77-72) in 2008, a win at SMU (74-68) in 2009, a loss at Houston (75-65) in 2010 and a triple-overtime loss at UAB (100-97) last season.
The Herd dropped to 9-4 with a 67-51 loss to Akron on Sunday in Huntington. Marshall's other losses have come at the hands of Ohio (70-68), Syracuse (62-56) and Belmont (79-74). Ohio and Syracuse were a combined 27-1 entering the week, and Belmont was 6-0 at home.
The Herd is 7-2 at the Cam Henderson Center this season with the losses coming to Ohio and Akron.
Sophomore guard DeAndre Kane, the 2011 C-USA Freshman of the Year, is averaging a team-leading 16.7 points per game. Senior guard Damier Pitts is collecting 14.5 ppg and junior forward Dennis Tinnon, a transfer from Kansas City Community College, averages a near double-double with 9.9 ppg and 10.4 rpg.
Marshall's +10.6 rebound margin leads C-USA. The Herd averages 17.7 offensive boards per game, also tops in the league.
UTEP leads the series 7-1 and is 3-0 versus the Herd at the Cam Henderson Center. The Miners won in Huntington 53-51 on a putback at the buzzer by Jason Williams during the 2005-06 season, squeezed out a 79-76 victory during the 2007-08 campaign and prevailed 80-76 two years ago to clinch the C-USA regular season title. The Miners are 7-0 versus the Herd since joining C-USA, the only team they haven't lost to since joining the league. UTEP beat Marshall twice in the Haskins Center during March of last year, 82-74 and 77-65. The latter was a quarterfinal game in the C-USA Tournament.