Miners to play Charlotte in pivotal Conference USA road trip


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – UTEP will head East to start a two-game road trip, starting with Charlotte on Thursday night. The Miners (13-10, 4-6 Conference USA) and 49ers (12-9, 6-4 C-USA) will tip-off at 5 p.m. MT/7 ET in Halton Arena. The Miners will finish the road trip with a contest at Old Dominion on Feb. 8.

The Miners are coming off a loss to UAB (69-55) on Feb. 1 in which the Blazers dominated the second half. UTEP allowed a season-high 54.0 percent shooting from the field, while UAB also shot 60.0 percent during the second half.

Bryson Williams was named the Conference USA Player of the Week for a third time this season. The redshirt junior averaged 27.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game last week. Williams tallied this fifth double-double (28 points, 10 rebounds) against Middle Tennessee, while Efe Odigie (15 points, 10 rebounds) also recorded a double-double against the Blue Raiders, his first of the season and 12th in his career.

The 49ers lead the all-time series 5-4 and is 3-1 versus UTEP in Charlotte. The two programs split last season. UTEP won 57-53 on Jan. 26, 2019 in the Don Haskins Center, while Charlotte won the second meeting 68-58 in Halton Arena on Mar. 3.

Charlotte is 12-9 after only winning eight games last season. The 49ers are currently on a two-game losing streak, after falling at LA Tech 72-59 last Thursday, and being upset at Southern Miss 74-68 in overtime on Saturday. Charlotte swept its last pair of home games, beating Florida Atlantic 70-68 on Jan. 23 and FIU 75-49 on Jan. 25. Earlier this season, the 49ers defeated ACC opponent Wake Forest 67-65 on Nov. 17.

Redshirt junior Jordan Shepard leads the team in points per game (14.1) and assists (79). Shepard, a 6-4 shooting guard, scored a season-high 27 points against Valparaiso, while his season most in assists was seven at Southern Miss.

Freshman Jahmir Young averages 11.8 points per game, while the 6-1 point guard leads the team at 4.9 rebounds per contest.

Graduate transfer Drew Edwards, a 6-4 shooting guard, is the third Charlotte player scoring in double figures (10.2 ppg) and averages 4.2 boards per game.

The 49ers have a stingy defense, as their scoring defense (63.4) ranks fourth in Conference USA and 41st nationally. Charlotte has allowed 58 points or less in eight games this season, while only yielding under 50 points in five of those games. The 49ers average 8.1 steals per game, ranking third in conference and 44th nationally.

Thursday’s game will air on ESPN+.

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