UTEP Basketball Hosts #24 Florida Atlantic in Saturday Showdown
It's been nearly 22 years since the UTEP men's basketball team upset a ranked opponent at the Don Haskins Center. On Saturday, the Miners will have a chance to break the spell as they face off against 24th ranked Florida Atlantic in a C-USA showdown that tips off at 7 p.m.
The Miners (11-8, 4-4 C-USA) are coming off a dominant performance in their 81-61 win Thursday against Florida International. They have now won back-to-back games for the first time in C-USA play going into the FAU matchup on Saturday. In the win versus FIU, the Miners showed balanced scoring and forced 16 turnovers on defense.
Point guard Shamar Givance was electric against FIU, as the graduate transfer recorded his third double-double of the season (15 points, 10 assists). UTEP received positive contribution from Otis Frazier III (15 points, 6-of-6 FG, six rebounds and four steals), Calvin Solomon (10 points) and Jamari Sibley (10 points).
“I thought the crowd was good tonight," said head coach Joe Golding. "We have a hell of an opportunity on Saturday. A top 25 team is coming here to El Paso… We’re going to need a good crowd in order to win.”
Florida Atlantic (18-1, 8-0 C-USA) is bringing in a 17-game winning streak to the Haskins Center on Saturday, the nation's second-longest streak. They are already 2-0 on the road this week after dominating Western Kentucky (76-62) and UTSA (83-64). FAU is one of just four one-loss teams in NCAA, joining Charleston, Houston and Purdue.
The thing that makes FAU so tough to beat is their balance. They have five players averaging more than nine points per game, featuring Alijah Martin (12.8 ppg), Johnell Davis (12.3 ppg), Vladislav Goldin (10.1 ppg), Michael Forrest (9.8 ppg) and Nick Boyd (9.4 ppg). If these names sound familiar, it's because FAU has done a great job of retaining players year after year. According to KenPom's model of minutes continuity, which determines if the players that played last season are also playing this season, FAU ranks 22nd in NCAA with 66% of their roster back from last year.
Another strength for the Owls is the way they attack the glass. FAU is 15th in NCAA and 1st in C-USA in rebounding margin (+7.4).
The last time UTEP beat a ranked opponent at home was an 80-61 win versus No. 23 Fresno State in 2001.
The coverage of the matchup will start at 6:30 with the Countdown to Tipoff show on 600 ESPN El Paso. MinerTalk will follow the broadcast, presented by the Oscar Arrieta Agency. As part of “Golf Night,” fans can purchase two tickets and receive a TWC golf towel for $30. The game will also be streamed nationally on ESPN+.