UTEP will vie to lock up a share of the league title when it plays at Houston at 12 p.m. MST Sunday. The Miners (23-2, 12-0 C-USA), have won 13 straight games overall, the third-longest streak in program history, including a 64-54 triumph at Tulsa on Feb. 16. The Cougars (2-22, 1-11 C-USA) shot 48.1 percent & scored 77 points, their second-best effort on the year, but were still derailed at East Carolina, 83-77, last time out. The tilt will be broadcast locally in El Paso on 1150 AM. Fans can also get live updates through following the team’s official Twitter feed (@UTEPWBB).
Houston leads the series, 13-8, but the Miners claimed the first meeting between the programs earlier this year, 87-43, on Jan. 22, 2012. UTEP has registered three series sweeps, which came in succession (2006-07, 2007-08 & 2008-09).
Defense has been the calling card for success for the Orange and Blue in 2011-12. UTEP is fourth nationally in field-goal percentage defense (33.2), fifth at guarding the three (24.3), 10th in blocked shots per game (5.9), 14th in rebound margin (+9.0), 16th in scoring defense (52.5), ) & 17th in scoring margin (+15.4).
This year’s Miners (23-2) are the third team in program history to reach the 20-win plateau, all of which have come in the Keitha Adams era & within the past six seasons. The school standard was set by the 2007-08 team (28-4), followed by this year’s squad (23-2) & the 2006-07 squad (22-8). The 2006-07 team was the first to do so, breaking a school standard (18-10) that had stood since 1992-93.
UTEP made some ground in both major polls this week. The Miners received 22 votes to check in 28th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ poll while grabbing 17 votes and a spot of 31st in the AP.