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Can the Miners play spoiler in the upcoming C-USA Tournament?


The UTEP men’s basketball team is heading into the Conference-USA tournament with a lot of momentum. With two games currently remaining, UTEP has a chance to be seated in a good spot in this tournament.  

But if the tournament were to start today, the Miners would be fifth or fourth seed. On its bracket, the Miners would play the lowest seed, whether it be the University of Southern Mississippi or Florida International University. 

The Miners have not won a conference tournament game since the 2015-2016 season and tit is looking to change that outcome.  

The Miners have a chance to play spoiler in this year’s C-USA tournament if the Miners were to win the first match up. The next potential opponents the Miners could face would be either the University of North Texas or Louisiana Tech University.  

UTEP does have a chance against both teams because it did manage to beat the Bulldogs on their home floor the second time around. Against Mean Green, the Miners fell short in that match-up, but were only a few stops and a few buckets away from winning. 

With its recent heartbreaking loss against the University of Alabama at Birmingham, fans should be excited about the larger body of work the team has produced. The Miners were able to go on a six-game win streak and move up to fourth place in the conference standing and are now only four games outside of second place. 

The Miners have the talent on backcourt to score at will against the elite teams and be able to play stellar defense as well. However, what could get them into trouble is their frontcourt offense and rebounding which has been the team’s weakness all year. This weakness could also get it bounced out in the first round like last year.  

However, while the glass is only half full, most of these teams in the conference do not have a true big man inside, but do have one that can make plays, rebound, and get critical buckets. 

Junior forward Tydus Verhoeven will be one of the key players in some of these match ups because he must rebound the ball to give the Miners that extra chance on offense or prevent the opposing team from getting a rebound. 

The Miners defense will also be key in these tournament match ups. The Miners have been forcing 16 turnovers this season and are able to get victories when forcing the team to turnover the ball at a high rate. 

Offense will follow if UTEP is able to play tough defense against their opponents that the Miners might match up with. UTEP does best when they play balanced on both sides of the ball, so if their defense gets going, so will their offense. Junior guard Souley Boum and junior guard Jamal Bieniemy will be keys to running the offense and sinking the crucial buckets in these contests. 

Both guards have been key to the Miners’ more recent success. Starting with Boum getting clutch buckets against the Bulldogs and Bieniemy scoring at a volume high to get wins. The Miners have a tall task, but they are equipped enough to win at least two games in this upcoming tournament. 

Daniel Alec Lopez is a staff reporter and can be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributor
Daniel Alec Lopez
Daniel Alec Lopez is senior Digital Media Production. Daniel joined The Prospector in 2019 as a contributor for multimedia, sports, and entertainment.  After graduation, Daniel hopes to relocate somewhere else in Texas and work in broadcasting or any kind of journalism job. 
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Can the Miners play spoiler in the upcoming C-USA Tournament?