POSTED: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 7:08pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 7:33pm
UTEP will try to win its second league championship in the past five years when it plays host to SMU at 7:05 p.m. MST Thursday. There will be free admission to the contest as part of the celebration surrounding National Girls & Women In Sports Day. The Miners (24-2, 13-0 C-USA) are winners of 14 straight, which is the second-longest streak in program history and ties as the third-best in C-USA annals. The Mustangs (12-14, 5-8 C-USA) have lost five in a row, with the past four being the single-digit variety.
No. 1 Seed Wrapped Up
By virtue of the triumph at Houston (2/19/12) the Miners have locked up the No. 1 seed for the upcoming Conference USA tournament (March 7-10) and at least a share of the league title in the process. UTEP can make it an outright title by defeating SMU on Thursday.
Postseason Bid Already Assured
Thanks to locking up the No. 1 seed at the C-USA tournament, UTEP has assured itself of playing postseason basketball in 2012. If the Miners do not qualify for the NCAA Tournament, they will earn an automatic bid to the WNIT due to being the top seed in C-USA. UTEP has one postseason appearance in program history, advancing to the second round of the 2008 NCAA Tourney.
We Meet Again
SMU leads the series, 23-11, but UTEP did claim the first match-up between the programs earlier this year, 64-53, in Dallas on Jan. 8. Additionally, the Miners are 3-3 against the Mustangs since the start of the 2009-10 season.
One Of Top Statistical Teams In C-USA
The Miners are first (eight) or second (two) in 10 of the major team statistical categories amongst Conference USA squads.
Stats Don’t Lie; UTEP Elite Defensively Nationally Too
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 (24.1), eighth in blocked shots per game (6.0), 13th in rebound margin (+9.3), 14th in scoring margin (15.6) & 16th in scoring defense (52.4).
Talking 20-Win Seasons
This year’s Miners (24-2) 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 (24-2) & the 2006-07 edition (22-8). The 2006-07 team was the first to do so, breaking a school standard (18-10) that had stood since 1992-93.
Putting The Success In Perspective
For the fourth time in the past six seasons, the Miners have posted at least 18 wins. Three of the campaigns featured 20+ wins, including this year’s team at 24-2. Prior to Keitha Adams’ tenure, the Miners only had one season with more than 16 victories, which came when the 1992-93 squad finished at 18-10.
Getting Some Love Nationally
For the fifth straight week UTEP received votes in both major polls. The Miners are 28th in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll (35 votes) while rating 30th in the AP (24 votes).
Third-Best Team In Texas
UTEP is the third-highest rated team in the state of Texas, trailing only top-seed Baylor & #11 Texas A&M.
Rolling In League Play
The Miners are 13-0 in league play for the second time in program history. The 2007-08 squad got off to a quick start in conference and never looked back en route to becoming the first women’s school in Conference USA history to run the gauntlet to finish 16-0.