Miners look to snap 3-game slump Saturday


POSTED: Friday, February 3, 2012 - 2:37pm

UPDATED: Saturday, February 4, 2012 - 9:29pm

Following an 0-3 road swing, UTEP (10-12, 3-5 C-USA) returns to the friendly confines of the Don Haskins Center for three consecutive games versus UAB (Saturday), Tulsa (Wednesday) and Tulane (Feb. 11). The Miners are 8-3 at home this season and have won seven of their last eight games in “The Don.”

UTEP is 42-8 in C-USA home games since joining the league for the 2005-06 season (7-0 in 2006, 5-3 in 2007, 7-1 in 2008, 5-3 in 2009, 8-0 in 2010, 7-1 in 2011, 3-0 in 2012). The Miners have won 20 of their last 21 C-USA regular season home games dating back to the 2008-09 campaign.

UTEP and SMU are the only C-USA teams that will be home for five of their last eight league games.

UAB brings an 8-13 overall mark and a 3-5 C-USA ledger into Saturday’s game. The hard-luck Blazers have lost eight games by eight points or less this season, with five coming in C-USA play. UAB has fared well on the road in league action with wins over Rice (61-60 in overtime) and Marshall (56-49), and a 59-55 setback at first-place Southern Miss.

UTEP players will wear “Mineros” jerseys at Saturday’s game. There will also be Mariachi music and Mexican food specials, and the high-wire act ACRODUNK will be performing at halftime. The first 3,500 fans will receive special edition replica jersey Koozies (drink holders).

Saturday’s Miner Legend is Dick Gibbs, who will be honored at halftime. Gibbs played for the Miners for two years from 1969-71 after transferring from Burlington Junior College in Burlington, Iowa. A 6-5, 210-pound forward, he averaged a team-leading 17.4 points and 10.6 boards as a senior. Gibbs’ career rebounding average of 9.7 ranks fourth in school history. Gibbs was a member of the 1969-70 UTEP squad that captured the Western Athletic Conference title and played in the NCAA Tournament.

Gibbs was chosen by Chicago in the third round of the 1971 NBA Draft. He played six seasons in the league with Houston, K.C.-Omaha, Seattle, Washington & Buffalo and had his best season in 1973-74 with Seattle, averaging 10.8 points and 3.1 rebounds over 71 games.

The Blazers have won three of their last five games, including an 80-69 victory over Houston on Wednesday in Birmingham. Senior forward Cameron Moore scored 25 points and hauled down 13 rebounds, and junior forward Ovie Soko also produced a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards. UAB made 10-of-18 three pointers in the game, as the starting backcourt of Robert Williams, Preston Purifoy and Quincy Taylor was a combined 8-for-13 from beyond the arc.

The preseason C-USA Player of the Year, Moore is averaging 16.1 points and 10.7 rebounds. Both figures rank second in the league. He is also first in C-USA in blocked shots (2.7 avg.) and minutes (36.6 avg.). UAB’s second-leading scorer, sophomore guard/forward Jordan Swing (11.1 ppg), is out for Saturday’s game with a broken right hand.

UAB is third in C-USA in scoring defense, allowing 61.2 points per game. The Blazers are 12th in scoring offense (59.6 ppg).

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