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North Texas at UTEP
When and Where: Thursday, Jan. 10, Don Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas, 9 p.m. EST.
Looking to record its second eight-game winning streak of the season, North Texas attempts to stay atop Conference USA on Thursday night when it faces UTEP.
Mean Green off to best start in school history
North Texas (15-1, 3-0 C-USA) has shown an ability to win at both fast and slow paces early in conference play. The Mean Green have a chance for their first 4-0 start in conference play in 30 years after grinding out a 65-62 win over Southern Mississippi on Saturday.
Did you know ⁉️
Umoja Gibson is on pace to break the single season Mean Green freshman three-point record of 77!
— North Texas Basketball (@MeanGreenMBB) January 9, 2019
Jorden Duffy and Roosevelt Smart scored 11 points apiece and six players had at least eight for North Texas, which won its two home games by a combined seven points after opening Conference USA play with a 103-87 victory at Rice.
“We’re an incredibly unselfish team and we’re well bonded,” senior Michael Miller told the school’s official website. “We know everyone is capable of leading us. We don’t care about individual accolades and stats. We’re just taking it one game at a time and trying to win each game at a time.”
At 11.3 points per game, Miller is one of six players averaging in double figures for the Mean Green, with Ryan Woolridge leading the way at 12.7 points per contest. Freshman Umoja Gibson is second at 12.3 per contest while making 43 percent of his 3-point shots, and three other players have at least 20 treys as the Mean Green are collectively shooting 38.4 percent from deep.
North Texas is also getting it done at the defensive end, racking second in scoring defense in C-USA at 61.6 points per game while holding opponents to 40 percent shooting.
Miners back home after being swept by UTSA
Texas El-Paso (5-8, 0-2) is trying to avoid a third straight loss after being swept in a home-and-home series by Texas-San Antonio to open conference play.
The Miners played better at home Saturday after losing by 15 in San Antonio, but still came up short in a 67-63 defeat to the Roadrunners. Evan Gilyard hit four 3-pointers and scored 18 points as UTEP shot almost as well from beyond the arc at 38.5 percent (10 for 26) as it did overall (39.3).
— UTEP Miners (@UTEPAthletics) January 9, 2019
With the exception of its 76-65 win over Wyoming, UTEP has struggled on the offensive end while losing the other three in its last four games. The Miners have shot 37.1 percent in those defeats, including 24.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Coach Rodney Terry is hoping to get a boost from the hometown fans as his young team — led by sophomore guard Gilyard (18.0 ppg) and freshman forward Efe Odigie (15.2) — face one of their toughest opponents of the season.
“These young guys need [El Paso’s] support. It does make a difference when we have fans there to support them and get behind them,” Terry told the school’s official website. “Stick with this young group. They’re not going to play perfect, but no team is going to play perfect this year. They’ll give the effort, try to compete, leave it all out there and carry themselves the right way. Come out and support them.”
Gilyard is shooting 43.6 percent from 3-point range and Odigie is pulling down a conference-best 10.2 rebounds per game and has recorded six double-doubles. The Miners, though, are averaging 16.6 turnovers — better than only Middle Tennessee (18.6) in C-USA.
- 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games following an ATS loss.
- 1-4 ATS in its last five games vs. Conference USA opponents.
- The underdog is 2-5 ATS in the last seven games between the teams.
- The under is 21-8 in its last 29 home games.
- The under is 6-1 in its last seven games as an underdog between 0.5-6.5 points.
- The under is 7-0 in its last seven games following a straight up loss.
North Texas is:
- 5-1 ATS in its last six games as a road favorite.
- 13-6 ATS in its last 19 games following an ATS loss.
- 16-5 ATS in its last 21 road games.
- The under is 11-5-2 in its last 18 games following an ATS loss.
- The under is 6-1-2 in its last nine games vs. Conference USA opponents.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
After two close home wins, the expectation is a balanced Mean Green team gets back to business and dispatches of a young UTEP squad. While the Miners have recorded all five of their wins at home, this is the best team to come to El Paso thus far, and North Texas will show that quality.
Prediction: Pick: North Texas -5.5
Full-Game Total Pick
The teams played to 134 and under in their two meetings last season, which were decided by a combined three points. While the expectation North Texas will create some separation in this game, the defenses will be strong enough to deliver the under.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 137 points
Half-Time Side Pick
The Mean Green have led at halftime in four of their five road games, with the lone exception a two-point deficit at Oklahoma. They have led by five or more in all four games they were ahead after 20 minutes and twice by 13 or more.
UTEP will be formidable in the first 20 minutes, having led at intermission in five of its last six at home, but a single-possession spread for a team as solid as North Texas is too good to pass up.
Prediction: Pick: North Texas -3
Half-Time Total Bet
The Miners had not cleared 62 in their previous four games before reaching 73 in Saturday’s contest with UTSA, and North Texas has hovered all around 63 aside from its up-tempo tilt with Rice. The Mean Green have held four of their five opponents on the road under 30 in the first half, which makes the under the pick here.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 63 points