Miners hope to win on the road at Tulane Saturday


POSTED: Friday, January 20, 2012 - 2:06pm

UPDATED: Friday, January 20, 2012 - 7:36pm

UTEP (10-9, 3-2 C-USA) shoots for its third straight win on Saturday at Tulane (12-6, 0-4 C-USA), which is seeking its first conference victory of the season. The Miners are over .500 for the first time this season and are coming off back-to-back home wins over SMU (70-64 in overtime) and East Carolina (70-56). UTEP has won eight of its last 12 games following a 2-5 start.

The matchup with the Green Wave begins a stretch of three straight C-USA road games for the Miners. UTEP has played three consecutive league road games just once previously since joining C-USA in 2005. The first occurrence was in February of 2008, when the Miners lost at UAB (81-73) and at Tulsa (73-50) before prevailing at Marshall (79-76) for their lone C-USA road win of the season.

UTEP will play at Houston on Jan. 28 and at Rice on Feb. 1 before returning to the Haskins Center to face UAB on Feb. 4.

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 Green Wave fell to 0-4 in C-USA action with a 60-56 loss at Tulsa on Wednesday. Tulane was ahead 32-25 at the half and didn’t relinquish the lead until 11:06 to go in the game, when the Golden Hurricane’s D.J. Magley converted a three-point play to put his team up 41-39. The game was tied at 41 with under 10 minutes to play before Tulsa started to pull away with a 13-3 run.

Tulane is playing without two of its top five scorers, junior swingman Kendall Timmons (13.6 ppg) and junior center Tomas Bruha (7.2 ppg). Both are out with injuries.

The Green Wave has the highest-scoring freshman in C-USA in guard Ricky Tarrant (12.3 ppg). Junior guard Jordan Callahan (11.4 ppg) and sophomore forward Josh Davis (10.7 ppg) are also averaging over 10 points per game.

Tulane is 9-2 at home this season with narrow losses to Southern Miss (71-66 in OT) and Rice (50-49). The Green Wave leads C-USA in scoring defense (55.5 ppg), scoring margin (+10.6 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (.375). Tulane was sixth nationally in scoring defense and 12th in field goal percentage defense entering the week.

UTEP leads the series 6-2, and has won five of the seven matchups between the schools since joining Conference USA. The Miners are 1-2 at Fogelman Arena with losses during the 2006-07 (92-67) and 2008-09 (86-77) seasons and a 69-58 win there last year.

In the first-ever matchup between the programs, Jim Barnes scored 32 points and pulled down 18 rebounds, leading Texas Western College (now UTEP) to a 76-59 win over Tulane on Dec. 20, 1963 at the Arkansas State Tournament in Jonesboro. Barnes was later selected by New York with the first pick in the 1964 NBA Draft.

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