The young UTEP men’s basketball team will get another huge test as it travels to Tucson to take on national power Arizona on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at the McKale Center. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. MT and the game can be seen on the Pac-12 Network.
“These kinds of games are game that help prepare for us for conference play. We’re playing, obviously, a well-respected program in our region and nationally,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “The Arizona program speaks for itself and what they’ve been able to do over the years. I have a lot of respect for their program and it’s a quality opponent that prepares us for conference play. It’s one of the best environments in college basketball. You come to UTEP to play in these kinds of games. We’re excited about the opportunity, it’s a great challenge for us.”
The Miners and Wildcats can also be heard on KOFX 92.3 FM and TuneIn.com with Jon Teicher and Steven Yellen handling the call, while a Spanish broadcast is available on ESPN Deportes 1560 AM with Omar Ropele.
UTEP (1-1) has split its first two games of the season, defeating UT Permian Basin, 90-63, on Nov. 6 and falling at rival NM State, 96-69, on Nov. 9. Arizona (2-0) is coming off an 82-61 victory over Cal Poly on Nov. 11 in the McKale Center, while it opened the season with a 90-60 win over Houston Baptist in Tucson.
The Miners are playing at Arizona for the first time since Nov. 15, 2012, while it’s the first meeting between the two teams since Dec. 19, 2014 in El Paso. The Miners came up short against the-then no. 3 Wildcats, 60-55, in front of a sold-out crowd in the Haskins Center.
Evan Gilyard leads the Miners in scoring at 24.5 points per game. The sophomore guard led UTEP with a 24-point performance against UT Permian and put up another 25 points at NM State. He’s the first sophomore in UTEP history to score 49 points in the first two games of the season, while he’s the first Miner since 1994 (Antoine Gillespie) to score 24 points or more in the first two games of the season.
Kobe Magee has been an ironman the first two games into his sophomore season. Magee is the first Miner to play all 40 minutes in the first two games of a campaign. Magee chipped in with 12 points at NM State, while he tied for the team lead with seven rebounds.
Gilyard joined Magee in playing all 40 minutes at NM State.
Efe Odigie has had a solid start statistically to begin his UTEP career. The freshman is second on the team with an 18.0 points per game scoring average, while also collecting 7.0 rebounds per outing. Fellow freshman Jordan Lathon has rebounded well at the guard positon. Lathon leads the Miners at 8.5 rebounds per game after ripping 10 down in the season opener and tallying anther seven at NM State.
The Wildcats are led by 6-foot-6 sophomore guard Brandon Randolph’s 17.5 points per game, while 6-foot-10 redshirt junior forward/center Chase Jeter ranks second on the team in scoring (13.5 ppg). Jeter and 6-foot-5 redshirt junior guard Dylan Smith have each pulled down 16 rebounds (8.0 rpg) in the early going. Freshman guard Brandon Williams (11.0 ppg) has tallied 13 of the team’s 29 assists. Senior forward Ryan Luther (6-foot-9) is averaging 11.5 points per game along with 6.5 rebounds per contest and leads the team with four steals.
The Wildcats are averaging 86.0 points per game (172 points), while yielding 60.5 ppg (121 points). U of A has connected on over 47 percent (60-127) of its field goals, including over 33 percent (15-45) from beyond the arc. Arizona is 37-for-50 (74 percent) from the charity stripe, while it outrebounds opponents 93-72 (45.6 rpg overall).