A Few Final Keys Before UTEP Tips Off Against UC Riverside
The UTEP men's basketball team will square off against UC Riverside today at 1 p.m. at the Don Haskins Center after almost a two-week hiatus due to finals.
The Miners (3-5) will hope to get their second home win in a row for the first time this season against UC Riverside (3-7).
“When we got back from our road trip [Milwaukee, Wisc.], we gave our guys a couple days off so they could prepare for what they have ahead of them in terms of an academic load and continue to work on basketball as well,” first-year UTEP Head Coach Rodney Terry said. “We knew we would have time to work on things to continue to get better with, whether it was rebounding, working on some offensive details and continuing to work on fundamentals.”
The two squads will face each other for the third time in history, as the Miners defeated the Highlanders (52-41) the last time the two met in 2011.
Here are some final things to note for the game:
Deeper rotation means more bench minutes
As KTSM's Colin Deaver first reported, UTEP starting point guard Evan Gilyard will miss Sunday's action with an injury to his knee. There is no timetable on his return, per the report.
Gilyard had been averaging nearly 19 points per game and helping the Miners get true scoring when they needed it. Losing him will mean that sophomore guard Kobe Magee will likely be in the starting lineup, playing lengthy minutes, while guards like freshmen Nigel Hawkins and Jordan Lathon will not be able to rest as much in today's game.
Expect the Miners to go big in certain stretches, with possibly both Kaosi Ezeagu and Efe Odigie on the court at the same time, which rarely happens. They will also likely dip into their bench a bit more with forwards Gilles Dekoninick and Ountae Campbell.
Head coach Rodney Terry will have to be crafty with his lineups today in order to make up for not having Gilyard in the mix.
Freshmen need to remain consistent
The secret's out—UTEP has a load of four really talented freshmen (Ezeagu, Odigie, Hawkins and Lathon) that each average over 13 minutes per game. All of them have become vital assets to the Miners and each contributes with meaningful minutes.
Now, it will be up to them to help the Miners secure the win Sunday against UC Riverside. Lathon is coming off a 26 point performance against Marquette, while Odigie had his third double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) in that game.
The determining factor might fall on Hawkins, who will need to have a big game against the Highlanders. If Hawkins is able to limit his turnovers, score points for the Miners and defend well, UTEP will have a solid outing against UC Riverside.
“We’re going to get a quality opponent coming in in UC Riverside and David Patrick [UCR Head Coach] is in his first year there and doing an outstanding job. It’s going to be a well-coached team,” Terry said. “He’s got a couple of big guys that do a great job getting offensive rebounds and second-chance scoring opportunities. He’s also got a couple of guards that can put the ball in the basket. [Dikymbe] Martin is like that kid [Markus] Howard from Marquette and can really light it up. They do a good job defending as well.”
Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. at the Don Haskins Center.