UTEP vs. Saint Mary’s: Miners Face Biggest Test Yet
The UTEP men's basketball team will journey to Moraga, California, for a Tuesday night matchup against West Coast Conference power Saint Mary's (4-1).
Who: UTEP vs. Saint Mary's College
When: Tuesday, December 8th at 8 p.m. MT
Where: UCU Pavilion (Moraga, Calif.)
UTEP is coming off back-to-back wins in their non-conference slate against UTPB (100-81) and most recently, Sul Ross State (84-65). The team experienced a five-day suspension in team activities when a player tested positive for COVID-19 last Friday, leading to their cancellation of the Arizona game (Nov. 30).
Now, the Miners have everyone back on their roster in time for Saint Mary's, including starting point guard Jamal Bieniemy, who was inactive against Sul Ross State for unnamed reasons.
"He's going to come right in and be expected to play right away," said head coach Rodney Terry. "He'll look winded at times. We'll have to try and give him a sub here and there to keep him fresh."
This is only the third meeting between both schools, as the Miners last defeated the Gaels, 75-62, on Nov. 27, 2008.
About the Gaels (4-1)
Saint Mary's is hunting for a five-game winning streak against the Miners on Tuesday night. The Gaels have reeled off four straight, including their 82-70 win against Texas Southern last week. Leemet Bockler poured in 20 points off the bench and was a perfect 5-for-5 beyond the arc, while Quinn Clinton also registered 15 points off the bench in the contest.
“[Saint Mary’s] is an experienced team and they have experience from a year ago with a number of different players coming back,” Terry said. “They lost their go-to guy Jordan Ford who was a 19-point a game scorer. But the guys who are returners play significant minutes. [Head coach] Randy [Bennett] has built a great program over there – one of the best programs on the West Coast.”
They lead the WCC in fewest personal fouls per game (15.0). The Gaels are 14th in NCAA for total 3-point attempts this year (131). They are shooting 36.6% beyond the arc, ranking second-best in the league. Guard/forward Alex Ducas leads the team in scoring at 13.0 ppg and in rebounding at 7.2 rpg. per game. Tommy Kuhse is 10th in the nation for assists per game (7.8). The team is primarily led by five freshman and four upperclassmen.
Former Miner Trey Touchet is listed as a grad assistant with the Gaels.
“They’re a team that is a rhythm offense team,” Terry added. “They really run their offense very efficiently and shoot the ball extremely well. Kuhse is going to be very difficult to deal with because he’s the head of the monster and he’s the guy who orchestrates everything in terms of playing downhill from ball-screen action. We’ll have our hands full and it will be a great challenge for us.”