UTEP at LA Tech: Three Keys for the Miners Late-Season Road Trip
The only thing sweeter than beating a team at home by 10 points is following that up with a win on the road.
And this week the Miners (8-15, 3-9 Conference USA) will get a stab at just that, as they travel to LA Tech (15-10, 5-7 C-USA) Thursday, which comes after UTEP snapped their three-game losing streak with an 85-75 win over FIU.
However, UTEP has lost nine straight on the road this season, with a winless (0-9) record.
Here are some keys to note for Thursday's game:
Shooting, turnovers & rebounds: At least two must be in favor for UTEP
In the lamest terms, the Miners do better when they shoot well, out-rebound their opponents and make their turnover margin slim. But they can't always have it their way.
For example, against Florida International, the Miners dominated the boards (46-28), shot exceptionally (50 percent FG), but fell in the turnover margin (-7).
To beat teams like LA Tech on the road, UTEP will need big shooting efforts, but cannot fall in the rebounding or turnover margin categories. They also need to do a better job at capitalizing on vulnerability from their opponents.
LA Tech is coming off their third straight loss, recently having fallen against Southern Miss, 73-71. But, they are still 12-0 at home.
The Bulldogs are averaging 73.5 points per game, which ranks fifth in the conference, and they allow 68.1 points by their opponents.
“[LA Tech] does a great job defending,” Terry said. “They’re one of the best scoring defense teams in our league. They hold guys to around 64 points or less. The thing for them is, being able to finish games."
Avoid foul trouble at all costs
On the road at times, the Miners seem to get overwhelmed in stretches, which causes them to commit fouls that get them into depth trouble. On their previous road trip, they fell into early foul trouble and eventually lost versus both Western Kentucky and Marshall.
Depth has been key for UTEP all season long and if they lose players to foul trouble, it will be an uphill battle to try and win. They will need their normal eight-man rotation to be strong in order to beat the Bulldogs, who get great production from four players averaging double-digits in scoring.
Junior guard DaQuan Bracey leads the Bulldogs at 14.1 points per game, while sophomore forward Anthony Duruji (12.4 ppg), redshirt sophomore guard JaColb Pemberton (10.4 ppg) and sophomore guard Amorie Archibald (10.4 ppg) also average double figures.
"These guys are dangerous in transition," Terry said. "[DaQuan] Bracey is one of the best guards in the league. They’re athletic and they can get out. When they’re playing with momentum and scoring in transition, they can play with just about anybody.”
Look ahead and realize the ceiling for this team
One of the biggest motos of coach Terry's young bunch is to not look ahead of the opponent in front of them. But with just a pair of games left before the C-USA pairings, it's hard not to look forward to what could happen next week in terms of scheduling.
Here are the standings for C-USA:
2018-19 Men's Basketball Standings
UTEP is currently at the No. 13 spot, which means if the season ended today, the Miners would not qualify for the C-USA Tournament. UTEP is also likely set to be paired with the bottom teams in the "Bonus Play" games, which includes the 11-14 seeds.