The Oregon Ducks (9-1) hit the road for the second time this season as they travel to El Paso, Texas to take on the UTEP Miners (3-4) at 5:00 PT in the Don Haskins Center. The two teams played last season in Eugene, a 64-59 Oregon win where Johnathan Loyd went bonkers and hit six three-pointers.
UTEP sits at a middling 3-5, but has been playing better basketball of late, beating New Mexico State and Idaho, before dropping a two-point decision to UNLV on Monday night. The teams have two common opponents, the game with UNLV (although the Rebels were without Mike Moser), and a 73-49 loss to Vanderbilt at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.
The Miners are coached by former USC coach Tim Floyd. Much like Nebraska, UTEP is going to want to slow the game way down. UTEP averages only 61 possessions per 40 minutes (to Oregon's 71), and scores only 57 points per game (to Oregon's 77). As was said before the Nebraska game--pace is important, but it's more important for UTEP. The Miners want to muck the game up, but the Ducks showed that they are just fine winning that way. If Oregon can assert the tempo, there is no way the miners can keep up.
The Miners will be at a major disadvantage in the frontcourt. They have three starters with size (6'10" John Bohannon, 6'9" Cedrik Lang, and 6'7" Chris Washburn, but all are poor rebounders,with only Bohannon averaging five per game. On the whole, this team is outrebounded by six boards per game, and has no depth in the frontcourt after the aforementioned starters. Bohannon and guard Julian Washburn average twelve points each, but this is a really inefficient team that struggles to shoot the ball, shooting only 43% as a team. They are worse, at 33%, from deep. They rely on the frontcourt a lot, but won't have an advantage against Oregon, and are prone to fouling out (five disqualifications against starting frontcourt players this season).
If Oregon sets the tempo in this game, they win. If Oregon gets UTEP players into foul trouble, they win. If Oregon plays defense the way they did against Nebraska, they win. The Ducks have a lot of paths to victory in this game, if they come out with defensive intensity and control the boards, UTEP has very little chance in this game.
Time: 5:00 p.m. PT
Place: Don Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas
TV: CBS Sports Network