EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The UTEP men’s basketball team came away with a much-needed, dramatic win over Old Dominion in overtime last weekend on the road to pull their record back over the .500 mark. With a home-and-home scheduled against UTSA this week, the Miners are looking to put together a win streak and get their Conference USA record above .500 for the first time this season.

UTEP (9-8, 2-3 C-USA) will host UTSA (7-11, 0-5 C-USA) on Thursday night, followed by a matchup with the Roadrunners in San Antonio on Sunday. UTSA has yet to win a conference or road game this season, and ranks near the bottom in scoring offense and defense.

“[UTSA] is obviously struggling to win games, but we were struggling to win games. That’s what I told our guys, we just won one game. It’s not like we’ve won three or four in-a-row,” said UTEP head coach Joe Golding. “We’ve both been struggling to get wins, and we just so happened to get one on Saturday, but they didn’t. They’re going to be hungry, they want a win in conference play, they’re going to give us their best shot on Thursday and we better be ready to play.”

Thursday’s meeting will mark the 33rd all-time meeting between UTEP and UTSA, with the Miners holding a 12-10 advantage over the Roadrunners. Last year, the two sides successfully defended their respective home courts, with the Miners taking down the Roadrunners, 69-51, on Jan. 30, 2021 at the Don Haskins Center.

“We’ve definitely had some hard-fought games with them over the past few years,” said UTEP junior guard Souley Boum. “We’ve had some good battles with them and we know each other really well. It’s not going to be a walk in the park, and we won’t just come out and beat them. We’ll have to come out and play hard.”

Tip-off at the Don Haskins Center is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT. The game will stream live on C-USATV.

GAME NOTES (Via: UTEP Athletics)

SERIES HISTORY: UTEP LEADS, 12-10

UTEP holds a 12-10 advantage in the series with UTSA, including a 9-3 mark inside the Don Haskins Center. Last year the two sides successfully defended their respective home courts, including the Miners taking out the Roadrunners, 69-51, on Jan. 30, 2021. That was the most-recent match-up between the foes.

THIS & THAT

–   Four straight opponents have been held to below 33.0 percent on 3-pointers, the longest stretch in league action since a six-game surge in 2020.

–    UTEP has used the same starting line-up in four straight games for the first time this season. It is still tied for the nation lead with 12 different line-up combinations.

–    The Miners are 43-59 at the charity stripe in league play. Foes are 86-122.

–   UTEP is 8-1 on the season when making at least eight 3-point shots. That record includes a school-recording tying 15 makes from distance against Southern Miss in the win on Jan. 8.

–   The Miners stand at 8-1 when scoring 70+ points (4-0 getting into the 80’s).

–   UTEP sports a mark of 8-3 on the campaign when limiting foes to 72 points or less, including 4-1 when keeping them in the 50’s.

–   UTEP is 8-2 when making at least 40 percent of its shots.

GET TO KNOW UTSA

UTSA got off to a 6-4 start to the season, but it has hit tough times of late. The Roadrunners are 1-7 since to slip to 7-11 overall, including 0-5 in C-USA action. UTSA is in the midst of playing three straight games on the road, its longest stretch of the season. Four of the losses this year (two in conference) have been by single digits, including three by three points or less. Due to varying reasons, the Roadrunners are down to eight scholarship players heading into the match-up with the Miners. Jordan Ivy-Curry (15.1 points per game) and Jacob Germany (13.7 ppg) pace the attack. Germany (6.5 rpg) has also gotten after it on the glass. The Roadrunners are under the direction of sixth-year head coach Steve Henson (86-90). They are the top offensive rebounding team in Conference USA and rate third nationally (14.6 orpg) in the department. Overall UTSA secures 40.4 rebounds per game (first C-USA/24th NCAA). It is also among the league and national leaders for fewest personal fouls per game (14.9-fourth/63rd). Notable university alumni include Michelle Beadle (TV personality), Bruce Bowen (former NBA player for the Spurs) and Kim Spradlin (CBS’ Survivor: One World Winner). 

GOING BACK IN TIME (UTEP 78, AT ODU 70, OT, JAN. 15 2022)

Souley Boum poured in 28 points (13 in overtime) to go along with a career-best six steals, Jamal Bieniemy added 14 points (game-tying three with 14 seconds in regulation), and UTEP rallied from seven down in the final 77 seconds before outlasting Old Dominion, 78-70, in OT in an exhilarating road victory on Jan. 15. It marked the first league road win in a year, and the initial triumph at Old Dominion since 2015. The Miners frustrated the Monarchs most of the night, but still trailed by seven (63-56) with 1:17 remaining. UTEP stayed calm, however. It got a free throw from Tydus Verhoeven (nine points, five rebounds) before a trey from Jamari Sibley (11 points, five boards. After ODU misfired at the charity stripe, Bieniemy nailed an NBA-range trey to tie the game send it to overtime. Boum then took over as the Miners dominated the extra period. UTEP had only four turnovers in 45 minutes of action. ODU was paced by Austin Trice (19 points, 20 rebounds).

TIP-INS FROM THE ODU GAME

–   UTEP held ODU to an opponent season-low 31.5 percent from the floor, including a readout of 1-15 from 3-point range.

–   There were eight lead changes and 11 ties in a wild game that featured big runs.

–   ODU attempted 47 free throws, the most by a Miner opponent since NM State also attempted 47 in an 86-73 loss on Nov. 15, 2013.

–   The Miners won an OT league road contest for the initial occasion since a 77-71 triumph at North Texas on Feb. 16, 2017.

–   ODU entered the game with back-to-back games of at least 80 points, but UTEP held it to 70 (35 via free throws).

–   Jorell Saterfield pulled down a career-best seven rebounds.

GOING BACK IN THE ARCHIVES

After research from local media, members of the athletic department and even the Miners’ passionate fan base (via Twitter), the closest comeback that can be found similar to that was in the 1987 NCAA Tournament at Arizona on March 13, 1987. In that tilt, UTEP trailed by five with 50 seconds left (78-53) before forcing OT on the way to the 98-91 OT win.

MEMORABLE WIN VS SOUTHERN MISS

UTEP blasted Southern Miss, 87-54, on Jan. 8. The 33-point victory was UTEP’s biggest in league play in seven years when it waxed USM by 34 (74-40) on Jan. 10, 2015. The Miners nailed a school-record tying 15 triples, the most by the Miners inside the venerable Don Haskins Center in 12 years when they caught fire against former league member East Carolina on Feb. 13, 2012.  UTEP set season highs for field-goal percentage (56.1 percent), aided by a campaign-best 24 assists on 32 field goals made. The Orange and Blue also established DI opponent season highs for points in the first half (44) and total points (87).

CAN’T CATCH A BREAK

Due to injury or illness, the Miners have lost 26 man games this year (Christian Agnew-six, Keonte Kennedy-five, Souley Boum-four, Cam Clardy-three, Tydus Verhoeven-three, Jamal Bieniemy-two, Alfred Hollins-one, Bonke Maring-one and Ze’Rik Onyema-one). No individual has started in every single contest, and UTEP has used a nation-leading (according to recent NCAA report) 12 different line-up combinations. At least one starter has missed a game in nine straight games and 12 contests total this season. Additionally, only freshman Kevin Kalu has appeared in every game this year out of the 15 Miners on the roster.

LOCK DOWN ON DEFENSE

UTEP has kept 10 of its past 14 opponents to at least five points below their scoring average entering the contest, including most recently Southern Miss  to 54 points (62.3 ppg entering)on Jan. 8. Those 10 foes have been held to a total of 112 points combined under the expected output, which works out to 11.2 fewer points per game by the opposition across the board. The overall affect has been a scoring defense of 65.0 to rank third in C-USA and 81st nationally.

ON THIS DATE IN UTEP HISTORY

Omar Thomas hit two free throws in the final second to lift UTEP past Hawaii, 71-70, on Jan. 20, 2005.

ALL ABOUT THE FANS

UTEP is averaging 4,638 fans per home game in 2021-22, which trails only the seasonal home average of 5,157 for ODU among C-USA programs.

SCORING STREAK

Souley Boum (69), Keonte Kennedy (36) and Jamal Bieniemy (17) all have scoring streaks of at least 10 games Furthermore, Kennedy is at a career-long five for double-digit streaks while Bieniemy stands at four in a row. Bieniemy had his longest stretch (seven in a row) earlier in the year before an injury during the setback at No. 8 Kansas on Dec. 7

MIX AND MATCH

UTEP has used 12 starting line-ups in 17 games, tying for the most combinations nationally according to a report compiled by the NCAA. Overall, 11 different Miners (out of 15 on the roster) have started. Injuries, illnesses and Covid-19 protocols have played a big factor in the mix and match this season. It’s a huge change from a year ago when the Miners utilized two starting line-ups with a total of six different players starting on the season. In 2019-20 there were eight, seven in 2018-19, 17 in 2017-18, eight in 2016-17 and 14 in 2015-16.

ALL ABOUT THOSE POINTS

UTEP poured in a DI season-high 87 points in the rout of Southern Miss, its fourth game with at least 80 points this year. That is the most such efforts in a campaign by a UTEP team since 2018-19 when it also had four in the entire season. The Miners also eclipsed 70 points in each of the first four contests for the first time in six years. Guards Souley Boum (18.9 ppg), Jamal Bieniemy (14.6 ppg) and Keonte Kennedy (13.3 ppg) and are all in double figures for scoring average. The last time UTEP had a player account for at least 20.0 ppg was in 2008-09 (Stephon Jackson), something Boum is 1.1 ppg shy of currently doing. Jorell Saterfield (7.9 ppg), Christian Agnew (5.7 ppg) and Jamari Sibley (5.6 ppg) are also above 5.0 ppg.

THE BENCH BUNCH

UTEP’s reserves have outscored the opposition in 11 of the 17 contests on the season.

TURN IT OVER

UTEP is third in Conference USA and 34th in the country by forcing 16.3 turnovers per game, which is aided by coming up with 8.1 steals per game (fourth C-USA/60th NCAA). Keonte Kennedy (2.1 spg-fourth C-USA/47th NCAA), Jamal Bieniemy (1.9 spg-fifth C-USA/77th NCAA) and Souley Boum (1.8-seventh/105th) have all been key to leading the charge.

THAT’S A GOOD MARGIN

UTEP has caused 16+ turnovers nine times on the year while committing 14 or less on 11 occasions. Furthermore, the Miners have made the same or fewer amount of turnovers compared to the opposition in 13 of the 17 games this year. The result is a +4.1 turnover margin (second C-USA/26th NCAA). UTEP is making 12.2 turnovers per game (sixth C-USA/102nd NCAA) while forcing 16.3 (third C-USA/34th NCAA).

THEY ARE CALLED FREE THROWS FOR A REASON

UTEP is taking care of business at the charity stripe, connecting on 74.9 percentage at the line (second C-USA/54th NCAA). Four different Miners have hit at least 70 percent from the charity stripe this year, with Souley Boum setting the tone at 87.6 percent (third C-USA/55th NCAA).  Boum is 85 (first C-USA/eighth NCAA) for 97 (second C-USA/32nd NCAA)

KNOCK THINGS DOWN

The Miners have shot better than 40 percent nine times thus far in 2021-22. They head into Thursday’s outing at 41.0 percent from the floor. Freshmen Jamari Sibley (54.1 percent) and Kevin Kalu (52.4 percent) and are both above 50.0 percent (min. 15 FGA).

WIN BIG

All nine victories for UTEP have been by at least eight points, including six by double figures. The Miners even managed that feat at Old Dominion despite only having five minutes in OT (W, 78-70 on Jan. 15).

NOTHING STOPS SOULEY

Souley Boum has dealt with both a broken finger on his non-shooting hand (missed one game), Covid-19 protocols (missed two games) and illness (missed one game) but he continues to produce. He is pouring in 18.9 ppg (third C-USA/44th NCAA), aided by going off for 28 in the win at Old Dominion last time out on Jan. 15. He has 12 double-digit scoring efforts (in 13 appearances), with six efforts of at least 20 points. Boum has also come up with 1.8 steals per game (seventh C-USA).

JB’S WORLD

Jamal Bieniemy has played big across the board this season, putting up double figures in scoring in the first seven games (prior long four) before sustaining an injury at No. 8 Kansas that caused him to miss the ensuing two tilts before getting back into the line-up for the WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational. He has since regained his early season form, reaching double figures in scoring in four consecutive contests. His 14.6 points per game are second on the team (11th C-USA). He has paced UTEP in scoring in seven games (three times in ‘20-21). He also tops the team in assists per game (3.4-11th C-USA). Defensively Bieniemy has corralled 1.9 steals per game (fifth C-USA/77th NCAA).

KEONTE DOES IT ALL

Keonte Kennedy was having a career year before sustaining an injury against Bradley that has forced him to miss five consecutive contests. He leads the team in rebounding (5.9 rebounds per game) and steals (2.1 steals per game- while rating third on the squad in scoring (13.3 points per game). He has started all but one game he has appeared in (11 of 12), and is playing 34.0 mpg (second on team).

SATERFIELD FROM DOWNTOWN

Jorell Saterfield is proving to be a big-time threat whether he’s starting or is coming off the bench. That is especially true from 3-point range. The Ranger College transfer is leading the team in 3-point percentage (min. 30 3FGA), nailing 44.6 percent (29-65). He has made 29 three-point shots (second on team) and 17 two-point field goals. Overall, he is putting up 7.9 points per game (fourth on team) in only 21.0 minutes per contest.

KALU NETS FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK

UTEP forward Kevin Kalu was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Week, the league office announced Dec. 20. He became the first Miner to claim the honor since Jordan Lathon did during the 2018-19 season (Feb. 25, 2019). The Baltimore, Md., product came alive with career highs in points (eight) and assists (two) while adding four rebounds to help hold off upset-minded McNeese, 82-72, on Dec. 16. Kalu played 25 minutes and didn’t miss a shot from the field (2-2) or at the charity stripe (4-4).

TALKING 20+ POINT GAMES

Souley Boum has six 20+ point games this season and 32 in his career between San Francisco (2017-18) and UTEP. Jamal Bieniemy has surpassed 20 points four times in 2021-22, doubling his total (two) from 23 contests played a year ago.

MILESTONE TRACKER

Souley Boum (started at San Francisco) has surpassed 1,000 points in a UTEP uniform (1,108-28th all time at school), becoming the first Miner to join the club in five years and 35th overall. For his career he now has a total of 1,502 points while appearing in 105 games (69 at UTEP). He has also made 184 3-pointers, with 137 at UTEP (sixth all time at school). He needs four treys to move past Mark Ingles (140, 1994-96) and into fifth place on the Miner career charts. Christian Agnew (started at North Alabama) is on the verge of 900 points for his collegiate career (895). Jamal Bieniemy (started at Oklahoma) has moved past 700 career points (746) for his college career, including 417 at UTEP. He’s also eclipsed 340 assists (349) for his college career, including 143 helpers at UTEP. He has appeared in more than 100 collegiate games (103), including 38 (all starts) at UTEP. Alfred Hollins (started at Oregon State) has moved beyond 500 career points (567) and surpassed 100 career games played (112). Tydus Verhoeven (started at Duquesne) has more than 300 rebounds (343) for his collegiate career, with the majority at UTEP (237). He has also topped 100 career blocks (120).

THE BASIC FACTS ON UTEP

–   This is the 101st season of UTEP men’s basketball. The Miners made history by starting five African-Americans to defeat Kentucky, 72-65, and win the 1966 NCAA Championship on the way to inspiring the Disney hit movie Glory Road. Overall, UTEP has 17 NCAA Tournament appearances (last in 2010), 11 NIT bids (last in 2015), 12 conference championships (last in 2010) and 26 seasons with at least 20+ victories (last in 2015).

–   UTEP is 9-8 in 2021-22. There are 17 home games (6-4 thus far) and 13 road contests (3-4 thus far) 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, also came back.

–   UTEP has six newcomers: 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 167-152 in his 11th season as a collegiate head coach, including 9-8 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 (9-8 thus far) is hoping to be part of an exclusive group at UTEP. 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 coaching experience  at 26 different stops along the way 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.

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 (2-3) thus far in C-USA play) entered the 2022 league slate 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 will run it back and play at UTSA at 2 p.m. MT/3 p.m. CT on Sunday (Jan. 23).  Jon Teicher (41st year) will be on the call, which can be followed on 600 ESPN El Paso, the UTEP Miners App and C-USATV. The game will be streamed on CUSA.Tv.