GAME NOTES: The Texas-El Paso Miners have won two games in a row and look to extend their streak to three games when they travel to face the UAB Blazers in Conference USA action at Bartow Arena.
UTEP added its second consecutive win Thursday with a 63-54 defeat of Middle Tennessee in conference action. The Miners have won seven of their last eight games altogether.
UAB put one back in the win column Thursday night with a 78-65 victory over Texas-San Antonio. An 89-84 overtime loss to Middle Tennessee last Saturday is the only thing breaking up a UAB four-game win streak. The Blazers instead have won three of their last four.
UAB holds a slim all-time series lead over UTEP, 8-6. This meeting will be the only regular-season clash between these programs in 2014.
UTEP held Middle Tennessee to 29 percent shooting in the second half of Thursday's contest as the Miners edged the Blue Raiders at the Murphy Center. Vince Hunter paced the Miners with 20 points, adding eight rebounds and four steals in the win. Julian Washburn netted 12 points and C.J. Cooper contributed 11 for UTEP. John Bohannon pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds as the Miners won the battle of the boards, 40-35.
McKenzie Moore, who was one of three UTEP players ruled out Jan. 7 for disciplinary reasons, is the team's leading scorer at 13.1 ppg. But that shouldn't last long as he remains in street clothes while players like Washburn (12 ppg) and Hunter (11.1 ppg) step up in his absence. Bohannon leads the team in rebounding this season with 8.6 rpg. The Miners as a unit score 69.3 ppg.
UAB has put together a strong start to the season, thanks in large part to its dominating rebounding performances. The Blazers' most recent win over UTSA marked just the second time in 16 games the Blazers were actually outrebounded by their opponent. C.J. Washington netted 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Fahro Alihodzic scored 17 and dished out four assists. Rod Rucker added eight points and 10 rebounds, while Robert Williams chipped in 10 points and seven boards.
Chad Frazier leads UAB in scoring this season with 17.6 ppg and a team-best 77 total assists. Washington leads a solid group of rebounders with 7.9 rpg, and is second on the team in scoring at 14.9 ppg. The Blazers as a unit grab an average of 47.3 rpg. UAB nets 77.9 ppg, and allows 71.6 ppg to opponents.
UTEP may be the hot team at the moment, but any form of poor shooting means minimal second-chance points for the Miners because of UAB's adept rebounding. If the Blazers can hit their shots, this could be a one-sided contest.
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