FIU at UTEP
When and Where: Saturday, Feb. 9, Don Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas, 9 p.m. EST.
Looking to get back to .500 in Conference USA play, Florida International looks to salvage a split of its Texas two-step Saturday night when it faces UTEP.
Panthers out to regroup from blowout loss at San Antonio
The Golden Panthers (14-10, 5-6 C-USA) have lost three of four overall and are coming off their worst loss of the season following Thursday night’s 100-67 drubbing by Texas-San Antonio. The margin of defeat barely exceeded their 32-point loss at Arkansas on Dec. 1, though they allowed a season-high 121 points.
— FIU Men's Basketball (@FIUHoops) February 5, 2019
While the Panthers are eighth in the nation in scoring at 85.1 points per game, defense has been a season-long issue as they rank 344th of 351 Division I teams in allowing 82.1 per contest.
Beard is ninth in C-USA in scoring at 17.8 points per game and one of three Panthers with at least 42 3-pointers. FIU, though, is shooting just 30.8 percent from beyond the arc on the season despite being ninth in the country in attempts (698).
FIU has split its six road games in conference play but has given up 100 or more in two of the last three.
Young Miners continue to take lumps
UTEP (7-15, 2-9) is locked in a battle with Charlotte for last place in Conference USA and enters this contest one-half game better than the 49ers while trying to avoid a fourth straight loss.
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— Hoop Or Die Films (@HoopOrDieFilms) February 8, 2019
The Miners shot under 30 percent for the second time in their last five games following their 61-48 loss to Florida Atlantic on Thursday night, finishing at 28.3 percent. Nigel Hawkins had 12 points but was 3 for 13 from the field as Rodney Terry’s starting five shot a combined 12 for 45 (26.7 percent).
After playing a half-court game versus the Owls, Terry is concerned about going from zero to 60 in terms of tempo against the Panthers.
“[FIU is] a team that plays up-tempo and you have to really value the basketball,” the first-year coach told UTEP’s official website. “I thought we did a decent job with turnovers [Thursday night]. Our big guys had 10 turnovers between the two of them. You can’t do that. We’re going to have to do a good job at taking care of the basketball.
“We need to put the ball in the basket though. Like I told the guys during the course of the [Florida Atlantic] game, there’s no magic formula. You have to make plays and be a player. You have to compete on offense and go back to the other end and get a stop.”
Sophomore Evan Gilyard and freshmen Hawkins and Efe Odigie continue to be the focal points of UTEP’s offense, averaging 15.3, 13.0, and 13.0 points, respectively. While lack of defense has been FIU’s Achilles heel, lack of offense has plagued the Miners, who are 13th in the 14-team C-USA in scoring at 65.0 points per game.
UTEP is 5-6 at home versus Division I opponents, including 2-3 versus conference foes. The Miners have not exceeded their season scoring average in any of those five league games.
- 1-7 ATS in its last eight games following a straight up loss.
- 0-4 ATS in its last four games as an underdog between 0.5-6.5 point.
- 1-5 ATS in its last six home games.
- The under is 9-4 in its last 13 games vs. C-USA opponents.
- The under is 21-6 in its last 27 home games.
- The under is 16-5 in its last 21 games following a straight up loss.
Florida International is:
- 5-1 ATS in its last six games vs. sub-.500 teams.
- 13-5 ATS in its last 18 road games vs. teams with an above-.500 home record.
- 11-3 ATS in its last 14 games as a road favorite.
- The under is 4-1 in its last five road games.
- The under is 4-1 in its last five games following a straight up loss.
- The under is 5-1 in its last six road games vs. teams with an above-.500 home record.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Despite coming off a 33-point loss, the Panthers have shown a remarkable resiliency in dropping back-to-back games just once this season. Coupled with playing a young UTEP team that is still learning how to win, the chances are good FIU can eke out a win here and return home with a split.
Prediction: Pick: Florida International -1
Full-Game Total Pick
Even with FIU’s shoddy defense, this point total feels out of reach considering UTEP’s season-long offensive struggles that have intensified at home in scoring 57 or fewer points in four of its last five gams at the Haskins Center. The teams also combined for 140 points last season in UTEP while shooting a combined 7 for 39 from 3-point range.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 149.5 points
Half-Time Side Pick
Neither team has been particularly good in the first half in their respective roles, but FIU at least has a form of offense that can produce points, and that is important against an offensively challenged team in UTEP. It will likely come down to the final possession, but the Panthers should have a lead after 20 minutes.
Prediction: Pick: FIU pick ’em
Half-Time Total Bet
Much like the overall number for the game, this feels out of reach given UTEP’s lack of consistency on offense. The Miners have totaled 23 or fewer points in four of their last five C-USA home games and have been at 63 or under in each of the last five.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 71 points