After sweeping last week’s homestand with a pair of inspirational victories, the UTEP men’s basketball team is feeling good about itself heading into this week’s matchups at FIU (Thursday) and Florida Atlantic (Saturday). 
 
“We’re all still coming off of a high,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said after his team rallied from 14 down to beat Marshall, and 19 down to top WKU.  “And the way we did it, I think, was very important.  We came back from big deficits.  We just played inspired basketball.  This is a young team, a developing team.  I say young from the standpoint that we’ve got 10 new players.  And hopefully something clicked this weekend.”
 
Now the Miners are back on the road, where they haven’t tasted victory in 2015-16. 
 
“We just haven’t guarded well enough,” Floyd said of his team’s 0-7 road mark.  “We haven’t defensive rebounded well enough.  It has been different things.  Free throws over at UTSA, turnovers over at LA Tech.  We’ve just got to play better.  We’ve got to play together.  We’ve got to play for the other guy instead of ourselves.  The next pass has got to be important.  Just taking a shot because you’re open may be not as important as taking a great shot when you’re playing against the dominance of Florida International’s rebounding.”
 
Like UTEP, the Panthers are 5-6 in C-USA play.  But while UTEP has struggled on the road this season, FIU has found the going to be rough at home of late.  The Panthers have dropped their last three games at FIU Arena to Southern Miss (66-60), Charlotte (72-69) and Old Dominion (64-60).
 
Since winning at UTEP on Jan. 23 to climb to 5-2 in C-USA action, the Panthers have lost four in a row by a combined 13 points, including a 67-66 setback at Middle Tennessee on Saturday.
 
Senior forward Daviyon Draper scored 25 points in the setback at Middle Tennessee.  He has averaged 21 ppg and 7.5 rpg over the last four games while shooting 57.8 percent (37-for-64) from the floor.  Draper tops the team in scoring (18.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.0 rpg) for C-USA games.  He is one of three Panthers averaging a team-leading 15.6 ppg for all games, along with junior guard Donte McGill and senior center Adrian Diaz.
 
In the first meeting between the teams on Jan. 23, the Miners fell behind by 21 points midway through the second half and couldn’t pull off the comeback despite cutting the deficit to three (70-67) with 2:48 to go.
 
“They thoroughly manhandled us here,” Floyd said.  “I just thought we played against a team that was better than us.  They were bigger, stronger and more physical.  We couldn’t guard them.  I’d like to think that we’ve gotten better.  They’ve lost a lot of close games since then.  We have won a couple.  So maybe we can go out there and sneak one out.”
 
The Miners may be winless on the road, but there is certainly a can-do attitude in place that hopefully will serve them well in South Florida. 
 
“I would hope that there would be some belief in themselves after coming back from big deficits,” Floyd said.  “It helps when you make every shot.  But we showed our guys how we came back, and basically both comebacks started with tremendous defense on the other end.”
 
Tip-off for Thursday’s game is 5 p.m. MT.  The game can be heard on KOFX 92.3 FM.