UTEP next travels to face Blazers in Birmingham

UTEP next travels to face Blazers in Birmingham
Friday, January 17, 2014 - 4:46pm

UTEP (12-6, 2-1 C-USA) shoots for its fourth straight Conference USA road win on Saturday at UAB (12-4, 1-1 C-USA).

The Miners won their last two C-USA road games last season, prevailing at Rice (67-56) and SMU (76-63) in March. They extended the streak with a 63-54 triumph at Middle Tennessee on Thursday. The three-game conference road winning streak is UTEP’s longest since the 2009-10 season (seven in a row).

UTEP hasn’t won its first two conference road games in a season since 2008-09 when it prevailed at SMU (74-68) and East Carolina (88-67). The Miners’ only other 2-0 road start as a C-USA member came in 2005-06 (beat SMU 80-67 and Marshall 53-51).

The Miners’ all-time Conference USA road mark is 28-36, including 10-16 under coach Tim Floyd.

UAB is 10-0 at home, including wins over Rutgers (79-76) and North Carolina (63-59). The Blazers have won 13 of their last 14 games at Bartow Arena dating back to last season.

UTEP has won seven of its last eight games following a 5-5 start to the season. The Miners have allowed less than 60 points five times in the last eight outings.

UAB squared its C-USA mark at 1-1 with a 78-65 win over UTSA on Thursday in Birmingham.

Junior forward C.J. Washington had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers. Senior center Fahro Alihodzic scored 17 points, and senior forward Rod Rucker snared 10 rebounds.

UAB held UTSA to 32.4 percent shooting, including 24.2 percent in the second half. The Blazers had 13 blocked shots, including four from Alihodzic.

The Blazers’ top two scorers last season, Rucker and senior swingman Jordan Swing, rank 3-6 on the squad in scoring this season. Rucker averages 10.6 ppg and 7.4 rpg, and Swing averages 8.8 ppg.

Newcomers Chad Frazier (transfer from Gulf Coast CC) and Washington (transfer from Tallahassee CC) are averaging 17.6 ppg and 14.9 ppg respectively to lead the team.

Frazier is the team leader in assists (4.8 avg.) and Washington is averaging a team-high 7.9 rebounds.

Alihodzic chips in with 10.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg and 1.1 bpg.

The Blazers have made more free throws (284) than their opponents have attempted (275).

UAB is first in C-USA in rebound margin (+11.6 rpg), and third in free throw percentage (.712), field goal percentage defense (.401) and three-point field goal percentage defense (.290).

UAB is rated fourth nationally in rebound margin behind Quinnipiac, Kentucky and Indiana, and 25th in three-point field goal percentage defense.

UAB has won three straight over the Miners following three consecutive UTEP victories. The Blazers lead the series 8-6.

UAB is 5-1 versus UTEP in Birmingham, with all six games decided by nine points or less.

UAB has won eight of the 13 matchups be- tween the schools as C-USA members. Ten of the 13 games have been settled by nine points or fewer. In the last four games the outcome has been determined by two, three, one and six points.

UTEP and UAB have staged some epic battles as members of Conference USA. The Miners and Blazers played a double-overtime game in Birmingham in 2010, a triple-overtime affair in 2011 and an overtime contest in 2013. The last two games between the schools at the Don Haskins Center have been decided by two points (2010) and one point (2012).

UAB scored 25 points off 21 UTEP turnovers, and took advantage of poor foul shooting by the Miners in a 78-72 overtime upset on Jan. 30, 2013 at Bartow Arena.

UAB outscored UTEP 36-21 over the final 13:21 of regulation to force overtime. The Miners led 43-28 when McKenzie Moore banged in a three pointer with 13:56 to go.

UAB took its first lead since 7-4 on a layup by Fahro Alihodzic 22 seconds into overtime, and the Blazers never trailed in the extra session.

The Miners made 14-of-29 free throws and were 2-for-5 from the stripe in the final minute of regulation.

The Miners shot 50 percent from the field and made 10-of-19 three pointers. Besides strug- gling at the line, they were outrebounded 38-32.

UTEP was also outscored 36-22 in the paint as John Bohannon was limited to two shot at- tempts after scoring 23 points four nights earlier at East Carolina.

UAB’s Jordan Swing scored 24 points, and Rod Rucker had 18 points and nine rebounds. Swing scored 12 points in the second half and six in overtime.

Moore (18 points), Konner Tucker (16) and Julian Washburn (12) all scored in double figures for the Miners. Bohannon had 10 rebounds and five blocks.

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