UTEP hits the road for Friday game at Pacific

UTEP

EL PASO, Texas — The UTEP men’s basketball team (2-1) will hit the road for the second time in the past three contests when it competes at West Coast Conference (WCC) member Pacific (2-2) at 7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT Friday. The Miners drilled NAIA member Northern New Mexico College, 88-53, on Nov. 13 while the Tigers cruised past Stanislaus State, 65-46, on the same night. Both programs have two wins on the season, but each is in search of its first win against a Division one opponent. The match-up concludes a four-game sequence of alternating home and road contests to begin the season. UTEP has attained its third straight start of at least 2-1 on the season. Jon Teicher (41st year) will be on the call, which can be followed on 600 ESPN El Paso and the UTEP Miners App. It will also be streamed on the WCC Network. Following the contest, the Miners open up a stretch with three straight and six of eight at home to wrap up nonconference action. Up first will be the Cerebros Sports Golden Turkey Classic with UTEP squaring off against UC Riverside (Nov. 22) and Florida A&M (Nov. 24) in a span of three days.

SERIES HISTORY: PACIFIC LEADS, 4-1

UTEP is 1-4 all time against Pacific, including 0-2 on the road. The two programs first met 68 years ago, when Pacific scratched out a 64-62 win in El Paso on Dec. 22, 1953. The next time the two teams squared off was in the 1967 NCAA Tournament where  Pacific ended the Miners’ aspirations of repeating as NCAA Champions by knocking them, 72-63, in the second round of the tourney. The most-recent battle between the programs came in 2010-11 when Pacific bested UTEP at the Don Haskins Center in the season opener for both teams. The game was a “Whiteout” and sold out for the debut of then head coach Tim Floyd.

GET TO KNOW PACIFIC (2-2)

West Coast Conference member Pacific enters Friday’s match-up at 2-2 on the season, going loss-win-loss-win over the first four games. Similar to the Miners, both of their victories have come against non Division I opponents. Most recently the Tigers clawed past DII member Stanislaus State, 65-46, on Nov. 16. Jeremiah Bailey (14.0 ppg), Alphonso Anderson (11.0 ppg) and Luke Avdalovic (10.8 ppg) are all in double figures to set the tone offensively, but three others put up at least 7.5 points per game. Anderson is grabbing 8.3 rebounds per game to pace the Tigers and nearly average a double-double in the process. Bailey is the only other player on the team to have more than 4.0 rpg, checking in at 6.5 rpg. Pacific is under the direction of head coach Leonard Perry, who is in his first year at the helm of the program but previously served the prior five campaigns as the associate head coach under Damon Stoudamire (currently assistant coach at Boston Celtics). He previously spent five years as the head coach of Idaho and has a career record of 50-99 in what is now his sixth year, including a mark of 2-2 this season. Pacific is among the WCC and national leaders for free throws attempted (72-third/45th), free throws made (47-third/61st), fewest personal fouls per game (14.5-first/67th), 3-point field-goal attempts (74-third/96th), 3-point field-goal percentage defense (27.1-second/87th) and 3-pointers attempted 74-third/96th)

GOING BACK IN TIME (AT UTEP 88 , NORTHERN NEW MEXICO 53, NOV. 16, 2021)

UTEP wrapped a 50-15 run around the break on the way to blasting visiting NAIA opponent Northern New Mexico College, 88-53, at the Don Haskins Center on Nov. 13 Four different Miners reached double figures in scoring, in the form of Jamal Bieniemy (15 points), Tydus Verhoeven (season-high 12 points), Alfred Hollins (season-high 11 points) and Souley Boum (10 points). Verhoeven also grabbed a game and season-best seven rebounds. Bonke Maring and Keonte Kennedy each added nine points. The Orange and Blue took decent care of the ball with 14 while forcing 25 that led to 30 points.

UTEP connected on 49.3 percent (33-67) from the floor while taking care of business at the free-throw line by going 14-16 (87.5 percent).

TIP-INS FROM THE NORTHERN NEW MEXICO COLLEGE GAME

–  The win improved the Miners to a start of at least 2-1 for the third straight year.

–   UTEP put up its highest scoring output of the season, eclipsing the 85 vs. WNMU (11/9).

–   The Miners won the rebounding battle for the first team of the season, cleaning up the glass to the tune of 41-23. Helping that was a season-high 17 offensive boards.

–   Kevin Kalu earned his first career start, pitching in six points and four rebounds.

–   Tydus Verhoeven (12 points), Alfred Hollins (11 points) and Bonke Maring (nine points) all set season highs for scoring. Verhoeven also had a campaign-best seven boards.

–   Ze’rik Onyema (two rebounds) matched his career high for rebounding.

–   Keonte Kennedy led the team in rebounding (eight) for the third straight game.

–   UTEP set season highs for points off turnovers (30), in the paint (40), second chance (21), fast break (16) and from the bench (41)

POINTS A PLENTY

UTEP has scored 70+ points in three straight games to start the year for the first time in five years. The last time they had a streak longer than three contests to begin the season was in 2015 when the Miners surpassed 70 points in each of the first six games of the campaign. Jamal Bieniemy (17.0 ppg), Souley Boum (16.5 ppg) and Keonte Kennedy (11.0 ppg) are all in double figures for scoring to lead the way, but there’s plenty of more punch. Five other Miners are putting up at least 5.5 ppg.

GIVE ME THAT BALL

UTEP is forcing 22.3 turnovers per game (first C-USA/ seventh NCAA), aided by 11.3 steals per contest (second C-USA/25th NCAA). Jamal Bieniemy (3.0 spg-fifth C-USA/31st NCAA), Keonte Kennedy (2.3 spg-10th C-USA, 117th NCAA) and Bonke Maring (1.7 spg-19th C-USA) have been causing fits for the opposition.

TAKE CARE OF THAT BALL

UTEP has caused 25+ turnovers twice on the year while committing 14 or less in two of the three contests. The result is a +8.7 turnover margin (third C-USA/12th NCAA). UTEP is making 13.5 turnovers per game while forcing 22.3.

PURE STROKE

UTEP is nailing 47.4 percent from the floor to rate fifth in the league and 94th in the nation. Seven different Miners are connecting on at least 50.0 percent from the field (min. five attempts), with Jamari Sibley a perfect 5-5 from the floor to top the team.

MILESTONE TRACKER

Souley Boum (started at San Francisco) is starting to approach 1,000 points (895 points) in a UTEP uniform while Christian Agnew (started at North Alabama) is doing so for his collegiate career (844). Jamal Bieniemy (started at Oklahoma) just went over 300 assists (305) for his college career, including 99 helpers at UTEP. With 17 points this year, Alfred Hollins (started at Oregon State) has moved past 500 career points (516). Tydus Verhoeven (started at Duquesne) is three rebounds shy (297) for 300 for his collegiate career.

STREAKING AT HOME IN NON CONFERENCE

UTEP has won 14 consecutive home games in nonconference action, including standing at 2-0 in the situation this year. Eight straight and 10 of the 14 during the surge have come by double figures. The last non league home loss came at the hands of Norfolk State, 75-62, on Dec. 21, 2018.

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 1424-1095 (2-1 in 2021-22). There are 17 home games (2-0) and 13 road contests (0-1) prior to the C-USA Championships (March 8-12, 2022).

–  The Miners returned four starters (Jamal Bieniemy, Souley Boum, Keonte Kennedy and Tydus Verhoeven) and eight lettermen overall. Other returning lettermen are Christian Agnew, Cam Clardy, Gilles Dekoninck and Ze’Rik Onyema. Emmanuel White, who redshirted, is came back

–  UTEP has six newcomers in the fold in the form of Kezza Giffa, Alfred Hollins, Kevin Kalu, Bonke Maring, Jorell 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 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 160-145 in his 11th season as a collegiate head coach, including 2-1 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 (2-1 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

The Miners open up a stretch with three straight and six of eight at home to wrap up nonconference action. Up first will be the Cerebros Sports Golden Turkey Classic with UTEP squaring off against UC Riverside (Nov. 22) and Florida A&M (Nov. 24) in a span of three days. Jon Teicher (41st year) and Steve Yellen (19th year) will be on the call, 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.

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