UTEP gears up for Southern Miss on the road

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The UTEP Miners (8-16, 3-10 Conference USA) will take on the streaking Southern Miss Golden Eagles (16-9, 8-5 C-USA) Saturday afternoon. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. MT/2 CT in Reed Green Coliseum.

Fans can listen on KOFX 92.3 with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher and Steve Yellen. The Spanish broadcast can be heard on ESPN Deportes 1650 AM with Omar Ropele. The contest will also be streamed on ESPN+ with Lee Roberts and Larry Boyd calling the action.


Following Saturday’s games, C-USA will announce the remaining four regular season contests as “Bonus Play” will start next Saturday (Feb. 23). UTEP and Charlotte (3-10) are tied for 13th place, while Middle Tennessee (5-8) and Rice (5-8) are tied for 11th place.


Southern Miss is one of the more experienced teams in the league, with five seniors and five juniors on the roster for fifth-year head coach Doc Sadler. The Golden Eagles have won five consecutive games, led by senior guard Tyree Griffin, who leads C-USA in assists per game (6.7).


“They have a good team. Doc has his guys play really hard on defense,” first-year UTEP head coach Rodney Terry said. “I think Griffin is as good as any guard in Conference USA. He’s a really good player at the point guard spot. [Senior] Cortez [Edwards] is also a good player and [redshirt junior Leonard] Harper-Baker is playing well. Their older guys are playing well for them at the right time of the year.”


UTEP is coming off a loss at LA Tech on Thursday night. The Miners held their own against a Bulldogs squad that is undefeated in Ruston, as they were down only three points (56-53) with just under four minutes remaining in the contest. But a pair of late three pointers by LA Tech put the game away.


UTEP freshman Efe Odigie recorded his 10th double-double with a 16-point, 10-rebound effort. Odigie is on the cusp of averaging a double-double at 12.8 points and 9.9 rebounds per contest. The 6-9 big man ranks second in rebounding, but leads the league at 7.2 defensive rebounds per game.


“He’s a load to deal with down in the paint,” Terry said. “There are not a lot of teams in this league that have a guy who can deal with him when he gets two feet in the paint.”


Fellow freshman Jordan Lathon chipped in with 10 points, while freshman Kaosi Ezeagu made a second consecutive start for the first time in his young career and tallied a career-high three steals. Ezeagu scored four points and pulled down six rebounds in 16 minutes of action. Kobe Magee made his second consecutive start and dished out a team-high six assists with zero turnovers. Magee also tallied nine points on a trio of three pointers in 33 minutes of action. 


Southern Miss is coming off a 78-71 victory over UTSA on Thursday night to extend its win streak. The Golden Eagles’ winning ways of late started with a 101-51 win over Marshall on Jan. 26. The streak continued with victories at FIU (89-73), at Florida Atlantic (74-72) and a 73-71 overtime triumph against LA Tech.

The Golden Eagles have been one of the premier passing teams nationally, averaging 17.0 assists per game. That number leads C-USA and ranks 13th nationally. Griffin, who also averages 13.0 points per game, has been one of the top guards in the nation, ranking in the top 10 in assists per outing. Edwards leads the team in scoring (14.7 ppg) and Harper-Baker is averaging 9.7 points and a team-best 8.3 rebounds per contest.

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