Everything You Need to Know About UTEP vs. UC Riverside Before Tipoff
Time for the third week of UTEP basketball, as the men's squad faces two challenging tests at home as part of the Cerebros Sports Golden Turkey Classic.
The first test for the Miners will come on Monday when they host Big West affiliate UC Riverside. Countdown to tipoff will get started at 6:30 p.m. on 600 ESPN El Paso with Voice of the Miners Jon Teicher and Steve Yellen. MinerTalk will follow the broadcast with me and Sal Montes.
Miners missing key players on Monday
The UTEP men's basketball squad will play Monday's game without Souley Boum and Christian Agnew, sources tell 600 ESPN El Paso.
There is no indication on why the players are out following the road trip to Pacific.
It is also uncertain on whether or not Boum and/or Agnew will be available for the Miners' home game against Florida A&M or their availability for next week's home game against NM State (Dec. 3).
Scouting UC Riverside
The Highlanders are coming off an easy 95-57 home victory against Bethesda on Saturday. On Nov. 11, UC Riverside was able to upset Pac-12 member Arizona State (66-65) on a buzzer-beater 3-pointer.
On offense, the Highlanders do a great job of sharing the basketball. they have assists on 50 of 86 field goals (58%) during the last three contests. Four players are averaging 9.0 points per game or better -- Flynn Cameron (11.6 ppg), J.P. Moorman II (11.2 ppg), Zyon Pullin (10.4 ppg) and Callum McRae (9.2 ppg). They have a +7.6 rebounding margin against opponents, led by McRae with 7.8 rebounds per game.
They are a 3-point shooting team, as they rank No. 23 in the NCAA for attempts (131) and No. 40 for 3-point makes (42).
UTEP is riding momentum following Pacific win
The Miners have won back-to-back and recently topped Pacific, 71-66, last Friday. Souley Boum led the way with 29 points, while Jamal Bieniemy scored 18 and Alfred Hollins scored 12 points to help in the win. It was a 16-0 run that propelled them in the first half. UTEP never looked back in the second half and led the final 20 minutes.
UTEP's three seniors in Boum, Tydus Verhoeven and Hollins have combined to score 36% of UTEP's points this entire season. Boum (20.7 ppg), Bieniemy (17.3 ppg) and Kennedy (9.3 ppg) lead the squad in scoring.
But it's been the defense that is so key for the Miners. The defense has forced turnovers on 29% of opponents possessions, which is 13th in NCAA. They average 20.4 forced turnovers and 10.8 steals per game, which are both fourth best in C-USA.
A quick look at KenPom rankings
UTEP checks in this week ranked at 150 per KenPom. UC Riverside is ranked 158. The Miners' most recent opponent in Pacific was ranked 157 by KenPom.
If you're a first-time reader here, KenPom is the advanced analytics website for college basketball. It is a terrific source of college basketball information for each team.
UTEP is among the best in the country for block shot percentage (2.8, 2nd in NCAA) and steal percentage (6.4, 29th) by KenPom.
Their most efficient lineup this year per KenPom includes Bienimey, Boum, Kennedy, Hollins and Verhoeven, with Jamari Sibley and Kevin Kalu as reserves.