Miners look to rebound in Wednesday home game vs. Florida A&M

UTEP

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Coming off their worst offensive performance of the season, UTEP will look to rebound when they host Florida A&M on Wednesday in their final game of the Golden Turkey Classic. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside the Pan American Center.

Playing without their leading scorer Souley Boum (COVID-19 protocols) and Christian Agnew (COVID-19 protocols) on Monday, the Miners dropped their tournament opener to UC Riverside, 52-40. Their 40 points was the lowest scoring output for a UTEP team at the Don Haskins Center since 2011. UTEP shot a dismal 26 percent (15-57) from the floor, including 4 percent (1-24) from three point range.

Both Boum and Agnew will also be forced to miss Wednesday’s game against the Rattlers.

“I believe in our guys. I believe in our team,” said head coach Joe Golding following Monday night’s loss to the Highlanders. “We obviously need to get some work in on some shots, continue to believe in what we’re doing, take the right shots and when you’re open, we have to have the confidence to make shots. Hopefully on Wednesday night we see the ball go through.”

While the scoring drought could largely be attributed to Boum’s absence (20.0 points per game), the Miners aren’t using it as an excuse. Fellow guard Jamal Bieniemy, who is averaging 16.0 points per game this season, believes other players have to step up come Wednesday.

“It’s next man up,” said Bieniemy. “This is going to happen throughout the year where people are going to be out. We just have to keep playing.”

Wednesday’s game can be streamed live on Conference USA TV.

Game Notes (Courtesy: UTEP Athletics)

OPENING TIP

The UTEP men’s basketball team (3-2) will look to build on a strong defensive performance while getting back on track offensively when it battles Florida A&M (1-2) at 7 p.m. MT Wednesday (Nov. 24). The game concludes the Cerebro Sports Golden Turkey Classic. It is the second of three straight and six of eight (0-1 thus far) at home to wrap up nonconference action. The contest also marks the end of a sprint out of the gates with six games in just 15 days, a slate more akin to league play than nonconference action. The Miners were clipped, 52-40, by UCR in a defensive struggle on Nov. 22. Florida A&M suffered its second Power Five loss of the year last time out at Miami, 86-59, on Nov. 21.Jon Teicher (41st year) and Steve Yellen (19th year) will be on the call for Wednesday’s game, which can be followed on 600 ESPN El Paso, the UTEP Miners App and CUSA.TV (subscription required). For tickets, fans may call the Eisenberg Family Ticket Office at (915) 747-UTEP, email tickets@utep.edu, or visit www.UTEPMiners.com/tickets or in person (Brumbelow Building on UTEP campus, 201 Glory Road) Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

SERIES HISTORY: UTEP LEADS, 2-0

UTEP is 2-0 all time against Florida A&M University, including 1-0 at home. The two sides first squared off in El Paso in the 2000-01 season, resulting in a 99-57 Miner victory. UTEP also defeated FAMU, 72-52, on Nov. 24, 2015. Head coach Joe Golding is 1-0 against FAMU, with the victory coming during his ACU days.

GET TO KNOW FAMU

Florida A&M University is 1-2 on the young season, with both setbacks coming on the road against Power Five opposition. When it comes to the Rattlers, everything starts with do-it-all player MJ Randolph. He is a stat sheet stuffer, pacing the squad in points per game (19.0) rebounds per game (6.7 rpg), assists per game (6.3) and steals per game (2.7). He leads the MEAC in both assists per game and points per game. Chase Barrs tops the team in blocks per game (2.0). He has help, however, with Jalen Speer (14.5 ppg) and DJ Jones (13.7 ppg) also in double figures. The issue has been scoring depth, with only one other player Kamron Reaves (6.0 ppg) putting up at least 6.0 ppg. FAMU opened the year by being edged at Kansas State, 67-57, on Nov. 10. It bounced back to blast Lemoyne-Owen, 95-70, on Nov. 21, before falling last time out at ACC member, 86-59, on Nov. 21. The Rattlers are under the direction of fifth-year head coach Robert McCullum. He is 126-194 in his 12th season overall as a head coach, including 42-73 at FAMU. McCullum has guided the team to winning records in MEAC play for threes straight seasons. Prior to his arrival, the squad hadn’t been above .500 in league play since the 2006-07 season. He had previous head coaching stops at Western Michigan and South Florida. The Rattlers take good care of the ball with 13 turnovers per game (second in MEAC). Notable alumni include attorney Raymond A. Brown, who represented boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and “Dr. X” physician Mario Jascalevich, Mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms and Olympic gold medalist Bob Hayes.

GOING BACK IN TIME (UCR 52, AT UTEP 40, NOV. 22, 2021)

UTEP held UCR to nearly 18 points below its scoring average but couldn’t muster enough offense in a 52-40 setback at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 22. The Miners were without the services of Conference USA leading scorer Souley Boum (20.7 ppg) and fellow veteran guard Christian Agnew (4.3 ppg). Both were ruled out before the game due to COVID-19 protocols. Jamal Bieniemy (11 points) was the lone Miner in double figures while Tydus Verhoeven (six points, six re-bounds) and Keonte Kennedy (six points, three boards) also pitched in. The Miners shot 26.3 percent from the floor, hindered by going 1-24  from 3-point range. The visitors weren’t much better at 30.0 percent from distance, but they did finish at 43.2 percent overall (19-44). Rebounding was a slight edge to UCR (39-35).

COACH GOLDING ON THE UCR GAME

“First of all I’m proud of our guys defensively. I don’t think effort was the problem tonight. We guarded a really good basketball team. When you hold a team to 52 points, especially at home, you’ve got to find a way to win the game. We just have to figure out a way to get the ball in the basket.”

TIP-INS FROM THE UCR GAME

–   The setback halted a 14-game nonconference home winning streak for the Orange and Blue

–   UTEP had its second-lowest turnover output (11), with only the nine at NM State (Nov. 13) doing better.

–   UTEP set season lows for points allowed (40) and fewest fouls committed (16).

–   Tydus Verhoeven attempted his first two 3-point shots of his career, coming on back-to-back possessions to start the second half.

–   Emmanuel White (three) and Jorell Saterfield (two) both set career highs for rebounds.

–   Five different players logged 25+ minutes, led by Keonte Kennedy and Jamal Bieniemy both playing 40. 

–   Emmanuel White (33 minutes), Jorell Saterfield (27 minutes) and Jamari Sibley (28 minutes) all set career highs for playing time.

–   For the second straight game, UTEP enjoyed a scoring run of at least 10-0. The Miners rattled off a 16-0 surge in the win at Pacific on Nov. 19 while putting together 11 straight points against UCR.

MIX AND MATCH

Last year the Miners used two starting line-ups with a total of six different players starting on the season. It’s been quite the difference this year with five line-ups in as many games, and 10 different individuals earning a starting nod.

ALL ABOUT THOSE POINTS

UTEP was held to a season-low 40 points against UCR on Nov. 22, but it had eclipsed 70 in each of the first four contests for the first time in six years. Overall on the year the Miners are accounting for 71.4 points per game, . Guards Souley Boum (20.7 ppg-first C-USA/34th NCAA), Jamal Bieniemy (16.0 ppg), and Keonte Kennedy (9.0 ppg) lead the way, but there’s plenty of more punch.

TURN IT OVER

UTEP is one of 18 teams in the nation to be forcing at least 20.0 turnovers per game (20.4), which is aided by coming up with 10.2 steals per game (third C-USA/37th NCAA). Keonte Kennedy (2.8 spg-fourth C-USA/17th NCAA)and Jamal Bieniemy (2.2 spg-11th C-USA/93rd NCAA), and Souley Boum (1.7 spg-20th C-USA) have been causing fits for the opposition.

THAT’S A GOOD MARGIN

UTEP has caused 25+ turnovers twice on the year while committing 14 or less in three of the five contests. The result is a 6.0 turnover margin (fourth C-USA/31st NCAA). UTEP is making 14.0 turnovers per game while forcing 20.0.

KNOCK THINGS DOWN

The Miners have shot better than 40 percent in four of their first games on the year. Even with the tough outing against UCR on Nov. 22, they enter Wednesday’s contest with a readout of 43.0 percent. Jamari Sibley tops the team at 61.5 percent (8-13) (min. 10 FGA).

WIN BIG

All three victories for UTEP have been by double figures while its two setbacks have been by a combined 18 points. The result has been a scoring margin of 10.5 (fifth C-USA/108th nation).

JB’S WORLD

Jamal Bieniemy has reached double figures in scoring in all five games this season, eclipsing his prior effort of four that he achieved in nonconference play last year. The guard has led UTEP in scoring three times already this year after doing so a trio of occasions in 2020-21.

MILESTONE TRACKER

Souley Boum (started at San Francisco) is marching toward 1,000 points (924 points) in a UTEP uniform while Christian Agnew (started at North Alabama) is inching closer for his collegiate career (849). Jamal Bieniemy (started at Oklahoma) is past 300 assists (312) for his college career, including 106 helpers at UTEP. With 17 points this year, Alfred Hollins (started at Oregon State) has moved past career points (532) and hit 100 career games played (101). Tydus Verhoeven (started at Duquesne) is beyond 300 rebounds (306) for his collegiate career, with the majority (201) at UTEP.

THE BASIC FACTS ON THE 2021-22 SEASON

–  This is the 101st season of UTEP men’s basketball, with the Miners sporting an all time record of 1425-1096 (3-2 in 2021-22). There are 17 home games (2-1) and 13 road contests (1-1) prior to the C-USA Championships (March 8-12, 2022).

–  The Miners returned four starters (Jamal BieniemySouley BoumKeonte Kennedy and Tydus Verhoeven) and eight lettermen overall. Other returning lettermen are Christian AgnewCam ClardyGilles Dekoninck and Ze’Rik OnyemaEmmanuel White, who redshirted, is came back

–  UTEP has six newcomers in the fold in the form of Kezza GiffaAlfred HollinsKevin KaluBonke MaringJorell Saterfield and Jamari Sibley.

–  The Miners brought back four of their five leading scorers from 2020-21 in the form of Souley Boum (18.8 ppg), Keonte Kennedy (8.6 ppg), Jamal Bieniemy (8.6 ppg) and Christian Agnew (6.1 ppg).

COMING SOON TO EL PASO

JUCO standout Jon Dos Anjos (nationally-ranked Florida SouthWestern State) has signed a national letter of intent to enroll at UTEP and play for the men’s basketball team beginning in 2022-23. Dos Anjos will have two years of eligibility for the Miners. He was a first-team all-league performer for the Bucs in 2020-21, helping them go 18-5 and advance to the semifinals of the FCSAA State Tournament. He averaged 10.3 points and 5.7 rebounds while playing in all 23 games, including 20 starts.

GOLDING ERA UNDERWAY

Joe Golding has embarked on his first season with UTEP, and as the 20th head coach in program history. He is the eighth head coach for the Miners since legendary Hall of Fame Coach Don Haskins retired following the 1998-99 season. Golding is 161-146 in his 11th season as a collegiate head coach, including 3-2 at UTEP. He spent 10 years at ACU (158-144), helping it transition from a Division II to a Division I program. Golding led the Wildcats to the past two NCAA Tournaments played, including a stunning upset as a 14-seed of third-seeded Texas in the first round of the 2021 Big Dance.

LOOKING TO JOIN AN EXCLUSIVE GROUP

First-year head coach Joe Golding (3-2 thus far) is looking to be part of an exclusive group at UTEP as heads into the 2021-22 campaign. Of the previous 19 head coaches at UTEP, only three have put together a winning season in their first year on the sidelines in the Sun City. Don Haskins became the first when he directed the Miners to a mark of 18-6 in 1961-62. Doc Sadler (27-8, 2004-05) and Tim Floyd (25-10, 2010-11) also achieved the feat. Overall the prior 19 head coaches have combined to forge an average record of 9-13 in their first year with UTEP.

EXPERIENCED STAFF

The Miners have an experienced staff on the sidelines for the 2021-22 season, each of whom are in their first year in the Sun City. Between head coach Joe Golding (22 years), associate head coach Jeremy Cox (30 years) and assistant coaches Butch Pierre (37 years) and Earl Boykins (eight years), the Miner coaching staff has a combined 97 years of experience at coaches at 26 different stops along the ways at varying levels of competition. Boykins is the least experienced in terms of coaching, but he’s the most accomplished on the court after playing 12 seasons in the NBA.

PRESEASON HONORS

Souley Boum was tabbed a Preseason All-Conference honoree, it was announced before the season by the Conference USA office. A 2021 All C-USA third team member, Boum ranked third in C-USA in scoring (18.8 ppg) and fifth in the league in total points (450). He also paced the conference and was 15th in the country with 130 made free throws. Boum knocked down his free throws at a rate of 81.2 percent, which was good enough for eighth in C-USA. He also led UTEP in steals (34) and dished out 60 assists. Boum set career highs in points (34) and assists (11) versus Sul Ross State. He scored 24 points and pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds in a win against LA Tech. The explosive scorer poured in 28 points, aided by a career-best 15 made free throws, in a win against FIU. He scored 20-plus points in five consecutive games from Jan. 22-Feb. 5, averaging 22.6 ppg during the hot streak. Boum buried a career-high six 3-pointers to help him finish with 23 points in a victory Charlotte.

PRESEASON PREMONITIONS

UTEP was predicted to finish 10th in Conference USA, according to the preseason poll that was announced prior to the season by the league office. UAB (190 points) was slated first, followed by LA Tech (second-184 points), WKU (third-162 points), Marshall (fourth-147 points), Old Dominion (fifth-130 points), North Texas (sixth-124 points), Charlotte (seventh-110 points), Rice (eighth-104 points), Florida Atlantic (ninth-84 points), UTEP (10th-82 points), UTSA (11th-48 points), Southern Miss (12th-42 points), FIU (13th-36 points) and Middle Tennessee (14th-28 points).

LOOKING TO REGAIN WINNING WAYS IN C-USA

UTEP entered the 2021-22 season in search of its first winning record in Conference USA play since 2017 when the Miners went 12-6 in the league to finish tied for third. That year capped a run of five straight seasons with winning marks in conference action, the longest since 11 straight such efforts under Don Haskins from 1980-90.

UP NEXT

UTEP has a much-needed break before returning to action for the second round of the Battle Of I-10 against NM State at 6 p.m. MT on Dec. 3. Jon Teicher (41st year) and Steve Yellen (19th year) will be on the call, which can be followed on “The Home Of UTEP Basketball” 600 ESPN El Paso, the UTEP Miners App. It will also be streamed on Stadium. For tickets, fans may call the Eisenberg Family Ticket Office at (915) 747-UTEP, email tickets@utep.edu, or visit www.UTEPMiners.com/tickets or in person (Brumbelow Building on UTEP campus, 201 Glory Road) Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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