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UTEP hosts C-USA's hottest team, Tulsa, Wednesday


POSTED: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 5:56pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 4:53pm

Looking to stamp out a season-long four-game losing streak, UTEP (10-13, 3-6 C-USA) takes another crack at Tulsa (14-9, 7-2 C-USA) on Wednesday. The Miners lost to the Golden Hurricane, 59-48, on Jan. 11 at the Donald W. Reynolds Center. Tulsa is the second of five teams that the Miners will face for a second time in the C-USA schedule. Rematches with Tulane (Saturday), Rice (Feb. 29) and SMU (March 3) are forthcoming. UTEP has already played Houston twice.

Wednesday’s game will be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network, with Dave Ryan (play-by-play) and Pete Gillen (analyst) handling the call.

UTEP is 42-9 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, 3-1 in 2012). The Miners have won 20 of their last 22 C-USA regular season home games dating back to the 2008-09 campaign, but are coming off a loss to UAB (61-60) on Saturday. UTEP hasn’t lost back-to-back C-USA home games since the 2008-09 season.

Tulsa is the hottest team in the league. The Golden Hurricane has reeled off seven straight victories, starting with the win over the Miners nearly a month ago. Tulsa enters play Wednesday in second place in the C-USA standings, a half-game behind front-running Southern Miss. Tulsa is 5-3 on the road this season, including 3-1 in league action with wins at East Carolina (70-67), Rice (70-46) and SMU (66-60), and a loss at Houston (70-69 in overtime).

Wednesday’s Miner Legend is Paul Cunningham, who will be honored at halftime. Cunningham is one of the greatest defensive players in school history. He helped the Miners to 84 wins and three postseason tournament bids (1981 & 1983 NIT, 1984 NCAA). An outstanding leaper, Cunningham led the team in rebounds with a 5.3 average during the 1982-83 season. He led the squad in steals average (1.2) in 1983-84.

Cunningham concluded his career with 332 rebounds, 64 blocks and 84 steals in 94 games. His tip-in of a missed free throw by Fred Reynolds on Dec. 3, 1983 at New Mexico State gave the Miners a 60-59, double overtime win over the Aggies. Cunningham later was a color analyst for UTEP radio broadcasts. His son, Kasey Cunningham, played for coach Tim Floyd at USC.

The Golden Hurricane was 0-2 in C-USA play entering a Jan. 11 matchup against UTEP. Since then Tulsa has gone 7-0 with an average margin of victory of 8.9 points.

Tulsa leads C-USA in scoring defense (59.4 ppg) for league games only, while ranking second in scoring margin (+6.6 ppg), field goal percentage defense (.398) & three-point field goal percentage (.410), and third in free throw percentage (.727), field goal percentage (.484), rebound margin (+4.2 rpg) & blocked shots (5.0 avg.).

Sophomore guard Jordan Clarkson is averaging 15.9 points per game, including 16.3 ppg in C-USA contests. Junior guard Scottie Haralson averages 11.1 ppg and senior center Steven Idlet 9.7 ppg. Haralson is 17th in the country in three-pointers per game (3.0).

As a team, the Golden Hurricane rates 20th nationally in blocks (5.4 avg.), 23rd in three-point field goal percentage (.390) and 27th in rebound margin (+6.0 rpg).

Tulsa leads the series, 28-16. The Miners have won five of the last seven 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.

UTEP has won seven of the last nine games played between the rivals in El Paso to take a 9-8 edge in games played at the Haskins Center.

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

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