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A pair of programs from the Lone Star State take the floor in college hoops action when Conference USA foes meet up. The Rice Owls look to pick up a conference win when they make the in-state trip to face the UTEP Miners Saturday night. Rice comes in off a 95-79 road loss to UTSA in their last contest Thursday night. UTEP was knocked off 58-51 at home by North Texas in their previous contest Thursday night. The Miners own a 23-12 edge in the all-time series between the schools but it was the Owls claiming a 76-70 win at home in the last matchup on March 1, 2018.
Rice Owls Hoping to Get On Track
Rice had their two-game win streak come to a halt as they were beaten on the road by UTSA on Thursday night. The Owls now try to regroup and get their conference mark back over .500 on the season. Rice trailed by nine at the half and drew within 48-44 with 17:27 to play before the Roadrunners put the hammer down and pulled away. The Owls shot 44.4 percent from the field, including a six of 24 showing from beyond the arc, and were hurt by 15 turnovers in the game. Quentin Millora-Brown (eight rebounds) and Chris Mullins (four assists) each had 14 points in the loss.
— Rice Basketball (@RiceBasketball) January 9, 2019
The Owls are putting up 75.9 points per game on the year so far. Rice is collecting 36.7 boards a night and is dishing out 13.6 assists per contest. The Owls are a dismal 335th in the nation in scoring defense as they give up 80.2 points a night. Chris Mullins leads the team with 13 points per game. Ako Adams chips in 12.5 points plus three assists a night while Robert Martin (12.5 points, 5.6 rebounds) is also averaging in double figures this season. Jack Williams (9.8 points, 7.8 rebounds), Josh Parrish, Drew Peterson, Quentin Millora-Brown and Trey Murphy III each put up better than 5.5 points a night for the Owls. Rice is shooting 43.8 percent from the field this season. The Owls are averaging 8.7 triples a night despite shooting 33.5 percent from beyond the arc. Rice is struggling at the charity stripe as they are hitting just 69.9 percent of their attempts so far this season.
UTEP Miners Looking to Regroup
UTEP suffered their third straight loss as they were knocked off by North Texas on Thursday night. The Miners try to pick up their first conference win of the season and get themselves back in the win column overall here. UTEP was tied at the half but found itself in a 13 point hole with 13:34 to play in the game. The Miners rallied to cut the deficit to two with 1:49 to play but went scoreless the rest of the contest. UTEP shot 36.4 percent from the field, including six of 17 from three point range, and lost the battle of the boards 43-28. The Miners also turned the ball over 15 times in the game. Efe Odigie led UTEP with 13 points and eight rebounds in the loss.
— UTEP Miners (@UTEPAthletics) January 9, 2019
The Miners are averaging 66.6 points per game so far this season. UTEP collects 36.1 rebounds a night while dishing out 11.7 assists per contest. The Miners are 112th in the nation in scoring defense as they allow an average of 68.7 points per game. Evan Gilyard leads the team with 17.2 points plus 4.1 rebounds a night this season. Efe Odigie contributes 15.1 points plus 10.1 rebounds a night while Nigel Hawkins is good for 10.9 points per contest. Jordan Lathon, Paul Thomas and Kobe McGee are the only other players putting up at least 3.5 points a game for the Miners this season. UTEP is hitting 42.9 percent from the field as a team. UTEP shoots 34.1 percent from beyond the arc and splashes 6.6 three pointers a contest. The Miners are a below average team at the free throw line as they cash in 63.7 percent of their chances this season.
- Miners are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 Saturday games
- Miners are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400
- Owls are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a losing straight up record
- Owls are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This one, as it often does when you have a couple struggling teams on the floor, comes down to the venue. UTEP is struggling overall but they have gone 5-4 at home this season. Rice has gone 6-4 at home but they are just 1-6 as the visiting team this year. If there was going to be a time for the Miners to pick up their first conference win of the season, this is it. Give the points and take UTEP, who exploits the soft defense of Rice to get enough points on the board to earn a win.
Prediction: UTEP Miners -5
Full-Game Total Pick
There have been problems for both teams so far this season. Rice can score but can’t seem to stop anyone else from putting points on the board seemingly at will. On the flip side, UTEP is pretty good on the defensive end of the floor but has yet to really get their offensive attack going with any consistency. Something has to give when these two polar opposites collide on the hardwood. Which team ends up with the upper hand when all is said and done in El Paso Saturday night?
The under is 9-1-1 in the Owls’ last 11 games after allowing more than 90 points in their previous game, 5-1 in their last 6 games following a straight up loss, 5-1 in Owls last 6 games following an ATS loss and 7-3 in their last 10 overall. UTEP has seen the under go 6-0 in their last six overall, 6-0 in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400, 6-0 in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a losing road record and 5-0 in their last five against Conference USA opponents. Given the way UTEP wants to play, this one ends up falling a couple points under the number.
Prediction: Under 145.5