UTEP men's basketball to host West Alabama Sunday


POSTED: Saturday, November 16, 2013 - 6:30pm

UPDATED: Saturday, November 16, 2013 - 7:49pm

UTEP (1-1) takes on West Alabama (1-1) in a Battle 4 Atlantis home game on Sunday afternoon in the Haskins Center.
-The Miners will join Iowa, Kansas, Tennessee, USC, Villanova, Wake Forest and Xavier in the Battle 4 Atlantis Nov. 28-30 on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
-This is the first matchup between UTEP and West Alabama, a Division II school located in Livingston, Ala.
-The Miners are in the midst of a stretch of seven games in 16 days that began with an 86-73 loss at NM State on Friday.
-Sunday’s game marks the start of a three-game homestand that also features games versus Colorado State Tuesday (Nov. 19) and NMSU Saturday (Nov. 23). Both were 2013 NCAA Tournament teams.

-For the fourth year in a row, UTEP is honoring past great players at halftime of this season’s home games.
-Sunday’s Miner Legend is Johnny Melvin, a star on the 1991-92 team that reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
-Melvin lettered for the Miners from 1988-89 and 1990-93 and ranks 21st in school history with 1,142 points.
-He averaged 10.8 points as a sophomore and 11.6 points as a senior.
-Melvin is tied for fifth in school history in steals (154), and tied for 10th in assists (270).
-He also recorded 602 rebounds, putting him just outside of the all-time UTEP top 15.
-Melvin was a member of three postseason tournament teams with the Miners (1989 & 1992 NCAA, 1993 NIT).
-He scored 55 points in five career NCAA Tournament games (11.0 ppg), shooting 61.8 percent (21-for-34) from the field.
-Melvin scored a team-high 18 points as the Miners upset top seed Kansas, 66-60, in the second round of the 1992 NCAA Tournament. He followed that up with 13 points in a Sweet 16 loss to Cincinnati.

Sunday's Opponent:

The Tigers were 10-16 last season and 6-12 in the Gulf South Conference (eighth place).
-West Alabama has eight returning lettermen and three returning starters.
-The Tigers’ top returnee is senior guard/forward Sandy Underwood, who averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds last season. He was named to the preseason Gulf South Conference team. Underwood scored 20+ points eight times in 2012-13 with five double-doubles.
-West Alabama also has a couple of impact transfers in junior forwards Cordell Pope (Mississippi Gulf Coast CC) and Lleon Tillman (Olney Central College).
-West Alabama is 1-1 with a win over Stillman (105-75) and a loss at Montevallo (85-67).
-Underwood is averaging 28.5 points per game and senior guard Desmond Raymond is averaging 14.5 ppg.
-Mark Downey is in his first season as the Tigers’ head coach. He was previously the head coach at Independence Community College (1999-2001), Arkansas Tech (2006-10) and Charleston (2010-13). He was the head coach at Independence Community College at the same time that Keitha Adams (current UTEP women’s coach) was the women’s coach there.
-Downey also played Kentucky player Tommy Kron in the 2006 motion picture “Glory Road,” the story of the 1966 Texas Western (now UTEP) national championship team.

-Daniel Mullings scored 26 points and went to the line 13 times, as NM State beat UTEP, 86-73, on Friday at the Pan American Center. The game featured a combined 53 fouls and 81 free throws and took nearly two and a half hours to complete.
-The Aggies shot 72 percent in the second half and 56.8 percent for the game. They also outrebounded the Miners 37-23. NMSU made 32-of-47 foul shots, including 21-of-30 in the second half. UTEP finished 23-of-34 at the stripe.
-The tone was set early as UTEP’s John Bohannon, McKenzie Moore and Matt Willms all picked up two fouls in the first six minutes.
-The Miners led just once, at 4-3 in the first three minutes. They hung around the entire second half and actually tied the game at 37 in the first minute of the second half. It was a five-point game (56-51) with under 10 minutes remaining before things started to slip away.
-The Aggies went on a 9-2 run to take their first double-digit lead (65-53) with 7:54 to play. UTEP couldn’t get closer than nine the rest of the way as the lead reached as many as 18 points.
-NMSU made 13-of-18 shots in the second half. Mullings scored 15 points after halftime, connecting on 4-of-5 field goals and 7-of-11 free throws.
-Sim Bhullar collected 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks for the Aggies, playing 23 minutes before fouling out. UTEP’s Moore also fouled out. Three Miners (Justin Crosgile, Cedrick Lang, Willms) ended the game with four fouls. A combined six players on both sides ended the night with three fouls.
-Tshilidzi Nephawe had a near double-double for NMSU with nine points and 12 rebounds. Vince Hunter scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half for UTEP, while Julian Washburn (15 points) and Moore (12) also scored in double figures.

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