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Miner men prep for C-USA road game at Tulsa Wednesday


POSTED: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 - 5:07pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 6:36pm

UTEP (8-8, 1-1 C-USA) seeks its first road win of the season on Wednesday when it plays at Tulsa (7-9, 0-2 C-USA). The Miners are 0-4 on the road this season with losses to NM State (89-73), Oregon (64-59), UNLV (65-54) and Marshall (76-60).

UTEP squared its C-USA mark at 1-1 with a 70-50 conquest of Houston on Saturday at the Haskins Center. Tulsa dropped to 0-2 in league play with a 57-55 loss to SMU on its home floor the same night.

The Miners have won six of their last nine games following a 2-5 start. UTEP hasn’t been over .500 this season. The Miners have alternated wins and losses in their last seven games. Tulsa, meanwhile, is trying to avoid its second three-game losing streak of the season. The Golden Hurricane is 4-4 at home on the year and 167-47 in the Donald W. Reynolds Center, which opened in December of 1998.

The Miners are starting fresh this season with nine newcomers, including a Division I transfer (junior guard Jacques Streeter) and seven freshmen. UTEP returns just three letterwinners and one starter (senior forward Gabriel McCulley) from last year’s unit that finished 25-10 overall and tied for second place in Conference USA with an 11-5 mark. The Miners lost 82.5 percent of their scoring and 70.6 percent of their rebounding production from the 2010-11 squad, which had eight seniors.

The Golden Hurricane committed 17 turnovers, leading to 19 points for SMU, in Saturday’s loss to the Mustangs. Tulsa is averaging 15.7 turnovers per game, second-worst in C-USA to UAB’s 16.4.

Sophomore guard Jordan Clarkson is averaging a team-leading 15.3 points per game. Junior guard Scottie Haralson is collecting 10.9 ppg and senior forward/center Steven Idlet 9.8 ppg. Sophomore center Kodi Maduka is the team leader on the boards with 7.0 rpg.

Haralson ranks among the national leaders, averaging 3.0 three-point field goals per game (15th in the NCAA). He is shooting 40.3 percent from outside.

The Golden Hurricane rates second in C-USA in rebound margin (+6.9) and third in blocked shots (5.3 bpg). Tulsa is 22nd nationally in rebound margin and 32nd in blocks.

Tulsa leads the series, 27-16. The Miners have won five of the last six games played between the schools after the Golden Hurricane beat UTEP four straight times over the course of the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.

The Golden Hurricane has claimed 17 of the 22 matchups between the teams in Tulsa. UTEP has won three times in its last 15 trips to Tulsa, and last year fell 69-68 at the Donald W. Reynolds Center on a jumper by Justin Hurtt with seven seconds left. Incidentally, Tulsa was also coming off a home loss to SMU when it faced the Miners a year ago.

UTEP’s Tim Floyd is 2-1 in his coaching career against Tulsa.

UTEP’s John Bohannon (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster HS) played against TU’s Jordan Clarkson (San Antonio, Texas/Wagner HS) in high school. Bohannon and D’Von Campbell (Arlington, Texas/Bowie HS) are also former AAU teammates of Tulsa’s Kodi Maduka (Arlington, Texas/Arlington HS).

Tulsa assistant coach Terrance Rencher is the University of Texas’ all-time leading scorer. He played the full 40 minutes against the Miners on Dec. 29, 1991 at the Special Events Center and scored 17 points in the Longhorns’ 92-88 loss.

Randy Culpepper scored seven of his 26 points during a game-changing 15-2 run in the second half as UTEP topped Tulsa, 66-54, in the Buick Conference USA Tournament semifinals on March 11, 2011 at the Don Haskins Center.

The spurt transformed a 40-36 deficit into a 51-42 lead. The Miners maintained at least a seven point cushion over the Golden Hurricane (19-13) the rest of the way.

UTEP trailed 28-27 at the half before turning up the defensive pressure over the final 20 minutes. Tulsa was outscored 39-26 after the break and made just 9-of-26 shots (34.6 percent).

Justin Hurtt, C-USA’s leading scorer, got off to a quick start, scoring 11 straight points to lift Tulsa to an 18-16 lead midway through the first period. The Miners made the defensive switch from Culpepper to Julyan Stone on Hurtt and he scored only six points the remainder of the game. Hurtt was 3-for-9 from the floor in the second half with two turnovers.

Culpepper, meanwhile, scored 20+ points for the fifth game in a row against Tulsa.
The Miners made 14-of-21 shots (66.7 percent) in the second half.  Another key was UTEP outrebounding Tulsa 18-13 in the second half after being dominated on the boards (21-9) prior to the break.

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