EL PASO, Texas – The UTEP men’s basketball team (11-8, 2-2 CUSA) will look to build on the momentum of its first league home sweep in two years when it plays at league-leading LA Tech (13-6, 3-1 CUSA) at 5 p.m. MT/6 p.m. CT Thursday on ESPN+.
The Miners clawed back to .500 in CUSA play and into a tie for fourth place in the conference by knocking off both Middle Tennessee (W, 73-59, Jan. 18) and WKU (W, 93-87, Jan. 20). They will have quite the task at hand to secure a third consecutive victory, however, with the Bulldogs sitting atop CUSA in three-way tie for first place.
Furthermore, LA Tech is undefeated (9-0) at home on the season and is riding a three-game winning streak. Most recently, it drilled Jax State on the road, 74-57, on Jan. 20. It was just the fourth triumph by a road team within conference play since it commenced, and LA Tech is responsible for two of them. UTEP will be looking to join that exclusive group thus far in league action, in addition to vying to secure its initial road victory (0-5) of the season.
The Miners nearly pulled that off at FIU on Jan. 13, as they led by 15 with seven minutes remaining before the Panthers rallied for a 72-68 win. One thing to keep an eye on is that UTEP leads the nation in both steals per game (11.9) and turnovers forced per contest (19.3), but LA Tech is second in CUSA in ball security by making just 12.2 turnovers per tilt.
They have 11 games with 12 giveaways or less, including somehow managing to play a turnover-free contest (first college team since Wisconsin in 2015) in a buzzer-beating loss at Saint Louis on Dec. 16 earlier this year. This will be the first of two meetings on the campaign between the programs, with the Bulldogs venturing to El Paso for a match-up on Feb. 22.