GAME NOTES: The Miners of Texas-El Paso shoot for their third home win in as many tries, as they host the Colorado State Rams in non-conference play on Tuesday night at the Don Haskins Center.
Off to a 2-1 start to the campaign, the only setback for the Miners came on the road at New Mexico State last week in an 86-73 final. On Sunday, the team bounced back with a resounding 67-46 win against West Alabama.
Meanwhile, the Rams are also winners of two of their first three games of 2013-14, thanks to an 88-67 triumph versus Weber State in Fort Collins this past Saturday.
In terms of the all-time series between the teams, once rivals in the Western Athletic Conference, the edge belongs to UTEP at 46-26. Colorado State won the meeting last season in early January with a 62-58 victory at home.
J.J. Avila scored 30 points, grabbed seven rebounds and handed out six assists before picking up his fifth personal foul during the 21-point win against Weber State over the weekend. Also filling out his stat line was Daniel Bejarano who posted 18 points, nine boards and six assists as well, followed by Joe De Ciman and Gerson Santo with 11 and 10 points, respectively, for a team that shot 53.6 percent from the field and turned the ball over a mere four times.
The Rams have had a different leading scorer in each game so far, but it is Avila who leads the way with an average of 15.7 ppg, followed closely by Jon Octeus (15.0 ppg) and Bejarano (14.7 ppg), the latter pulling down a team-best 9.7 rpg and also handing out better than four assists per outing, yet has shot only 39.5 percent from the field. The squad is averaging 82.7 ppg, thanks in large part to almost 24 free throws per contest.
West Alabama was completely overmatched by the Miners as the visitors made a total of just eight field goals in the first half, shooting 21.1 percent from the floor and 4-of-25 behind the 3-point line. There was only slight improvement in the second half and by then the outcome had already been decided. Offensively, the Miners were led by Vince Hunter with his 14 points and eight rebounds, followed by McKenzie Moore with 12 points, while Cedrick Lang and C.J. Cooper accounted for 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Because the effort by West Alabama was so weak, the stats for the Rams now look slightly better after three games, particularly in the shooting department on defense where it states that opponents have made just 19.2 percent of their 3-point tries and 32.8 percent from the floor overall. Moore (13.0 ppg), Hunter (11.3 ppg) and Lang (10.0 ppg) are central figures at the offensive end that have a heavy influence on the unit's bottom line of 74.7 ppg.
The Miners have to be careful not to believe their own hype after the impressive win over West Alabama. Should UTEP get caught up in how well it played the last time out, expect the Rams to take advantage with a strong effort on the road.
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