UTEP continues C-USA play at Charlotte on Thursday – KTSM 9 News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Coming off a 33-point win over Southern Miss last Saturday at the Don Haskins Center, the UTEP men’s basketball team will look to put together back-to-back wins in a road matchup against Charlotte on Thursday night.

UTEP (8-7, 1-2 in C-USA) finds themselves back above the .500 mark, but still short-handed without guard Keonte Kennedy (foot) in their starting lineup. There is no timetable for Kennedy’s return, but head coach Joe Golding believes the team could get fellow guard Christian Agnew back against the 49ers on Thursday. Agnew has missed the past two games due to COVID protocols.

Charlotte (7-5, 0-0 in C-USA), meanwhile, has had their own troubles due to COVID protocols. The 49ers haven’t played a game since Dec. 22 when they beat Western Carolina, 98-82. It makes for a pretty difficult preparation process for Golding and the Miners, who don’t have a lot of film on their opponent to go off of.

“Everyone is saying they haven’t played and they are going to be rusty, but I disagree,” said Golding. “I think they are going to be chomping at the bit, ready to play and they’re going to have fresh legs. I’m sure they are excited to play a game and we are going to have our work cut out for us.”

The 49ers represent one of the top offensive teams in Conference USA. They average 73.1 points per game and have three starters averaging double figures in scoring, including Jahmir Young (20.1 ppg) who is ranked 21st in the country in scoring.

“They are a great offensive team, but we just have to play our defense,” said UTEP sophomore guard Jorell Satterfield. “We need to make them uncomfortable as much as possible.”

Tip-off inside Halton Arena is scheduled for 5 p.m. MT. The game will stream live on ESPN+.

GAME NOTES (Via: UTEP Athletics)

OPENING TIP

The UTEP men’s basketball team (8-7, 1-2 C-USA) will aspire to build upon its convincing victory against Southern Miss when it heads to the Eastern Time Zone to battle Charlotte (7-5, 0-0) at 5 p.m. MT/7 p.m. ET on Thursday (Jan. 13). The Miners are coming off an 87-54 rout of Southern Miss on Jan. 8. Charlotte hasn’t competed since Dec. 22 when it dispatched Western Carolina, 98-82, which means it’ll be the second time this year that UTEP is serving as an opponent’s league opener. It is the lone match-up on the season between the two sides. The 49ers are 5-1 at home in 2021-22, playing in front of nearly 3,000 fans (2,910) on average, while the Miners stand 2-3 on the road. Jon Teicher (41st year) will be on the call, which can be followed on 600 ESPN El Paso and the UTEP Miners App. It will also be streamed on ESPN+.

THIS & THAT

–   UTEP’s 33-point win against Southern Miss was its biggest in league play in seven years when it blasted USM by 34 (74-40) on Jan. 10, 2015.

–   The Miners tied a school record for 3-pointers made in the victory with 15, moving them to 7-1 on the year when hitting at least eight treys in a tilt.

–   UTEP is 7-1 when scoring 70+ points and 4-0 when getting into the 80s.

–   The Orange and Blue have dished out 16+ assists in back-to-back games for the first time this season, including tallying a season-high 24 against USM on Jan. 8.

–   UTEP stands 8-2 on the year when holding foes to 72 points or less, including 4-1 when keeping them in the 50’s.

–   Back-to-back opponents have shot less than 33 percent from the floor on 3-pointers for the third time this year. The Miners haven’t strung together three straight such games this year.

–   UTEP is 7-2 when making at least 40 percent of its shots.

SERIES HISTORY: TIED, 6-6

The series is tied with Charlotte, 6-6, (6-4 UTEP edge in C-USA contests) with each side taking care of business at home. The Miners are 5-2 against the 49ers inside the Don Haskins Center, but Charlotte boasts a 4-1 advantage when playing in the Queen City. The two sides first squared off in both 2000-01 and 2001-02 before not meeting again until the 49ers joined Conference USA for the 2013-14 campaign. Last year UTEP swept the 49ers in El Paso to wrap up league action at 8-8.

GET TO KNOW CHARLOTTE

Charlotte is 7-5 on the year, including 5-1 at home, but due to postponements, it hasn’t competed since Dec. 22. Thursday’s contest marks the fourth time that the 49ers will attempt to commence C-USA play. They enter the game on a two-tilt winning streak, including a 98-82 victory against Western Carolina before the New Year (12/22/21). Charlotte is paced by C-USA’s leading scorer (20.1 ppg) Jahmir Young, who is also 21st in the country. Austin Butler (12.4 ppg) and Clyde Trapp (11.0 ppg) are also in double figures for scoring while Robert Braswell (9.4 ppg) and Aly Khalifa (8.8 ppg) have been consistent scorers, helping the 49ers put up 73.1 ppg (ninth C-USA). They lead the league and are 31st nationally in field-goal percentage (48.0). Charlotte is also in the upper echelon for C-USA and the top-100 nationally for free-throw percentage (77.1-first/26th), fewest turnovers per game (11.5-third/53rd) and 3-point percentage (36.4-third/64th). It has struggled a bit in a few areas, rating last in the conference in field-goal percentage defense (47.3) and rebounds per game (30.9). The 49ers are next to last in scoring defense (73.8). Notable university alumni include Clay Aiken (Broadway star/American Idol runner-up), John Maine (former MLB pitcher) and Robert F. Hull, Jr. (CEO of Lowes).

GOING BACK IN TIME (AT UTEP 87, CHARLOTTE 54, JAN. 8, 2022)

UTEP opened the game on a 15-1 run on the way to soaring past Southern Miss (5-9, 1-1), 87-54, at the Don Haskins Center on Jan. 8.  The advantage was 44-23 at the break, with it being the Miners’ highest-scoring first-half output against a DI opponent on the year. The eventual 33-point victory ranks as the biggest this season vs. a DI foe for the Miners, and was the highest differential against a C-USA opponent since blasting the Golden Eagles, by 34 (74-40) on Jan. 10, 2015.  Southern Miss scored first before a 15-0 run changed the contest in favor of the Orange and Blue.

TIP-INS FROM THE USM GAME

–   UTEP tied a school record with 15 3-pointers made on 27 attempts. The Miners

set season highs for field-goal percentage (56.1 percent), aided by a campaign-best 24 assists on 32 field goals made.

–   The Orange and Blue set DI opponent season highs for points in the first half (44) and total points (87).

–   Southern Miss was held to 34.5 percent shooting from the floor; three of the prior four foes surpassed 50.0 percent.

–   UTEP had a string of at least 76.0 percent from the line over six games end.

–   Jamal Bieniemy (19 points, seven assists-one turnover), Souley Boum (17 points, six rebounds, five assists-no turnovers), Jorell Saterfield (career-high 16 points) and Jamari Sibley (11 points, six caroms) all hit double figures.

–   Ze’Rik Onyema came off the bench to provide a career-high tying four points to go along with a career-best three rejections.

–   Fellow freshman Cam Clardy scored his first points as a Miner (five points), dished out a career-high three assists and also drew a charge. Emmanuel White tallied six points (one shy of career high) while Alfred Hollins netted five points.

BIG BOUNCE-BACK WIN

UTEP was saddled with an 0-2 start in league play with a 13-point setback at UAB (Dec. 30) and a 12-point loss to LA Tech (Jan. 6), but keep in mind that at the time those two schools were a combined 25-6 on the season, including 6-0 in C-USA action. Last time out the Orange and Blue whacked Southern Miss, 87-54, on Jan. 6. The Golden Eagles were 5-8, 1-0 C-USA, heading into the affair.

CAN’T CATCH A BREAK

Due to injury or illness, the Miners have lost 22 man games this year (Christian Agnew-four, Souley Boum-four, Cam Clardy-three, Keonte Kennedy-three, Tydus Verhoeven-three, Jamal Bieniemy-two, Alfred Hollins-one, Bonke Maring-one and Ze’Rik Onyema-one). No individual has started in every single contest, and UTEP has used a nation-leading (according to recent NCAA report) 12 different line-up combinations. At least one starter has missed a game in seven straight games and 10 contests total this season. Additionally, only Kevin Kalu has appeared in every game this year out of the 15 Miners on the roster.

LOCK DOWN ON DEFENSE

UTEP has kept 10 of its past 12 opponents to at least five points below their scoring average entering the contest, including most recently Southern Miss to 54 points (62.3 ppg entering). Those 10 foes have been held to a total of 112 points combined under the expected output, which works out to 11.2 fewer points per game by the opposition across the board.

ON THIS DATE IN UTEP HISTORY

UTEP wins at Air Force, 60-49, on Jan. 13, 1983, the fourth victory of an eventual eight-game winning streak.

ALL ABOUT THE FANS

UTEP is averaging 4,638 fans per home game in 2021-22, which trails only the seasonal home average of 5,383 for ODU among C-USA programs. Additionally, the Miners have been forced to play in front of an average of 7,388 fans on the road but are 2-3 on the road. That is the fourth-highest road attendance average of any Conference USA member.

SCORING STREAK

Souley Boum (67), Keonte Kennedy (36) and Jamal Bieniemy (15) all have scoring streaks of at least 10 games Furthermore, Kennedy is at a career-long five for double-digit streaks.

MIX AND MATCH

UTEP has used 12 starting line-ups in 15 games, the most combinations nationally according to a report compiled by the NCAA. Overall, 11 different Miners (our of 15 on the roster) have started. Injuries, illnesses and Covid-19 protocols have played a big factor in the mix and match this season. It’s a huge change from a year ago when the Miners utilized two starting line-ups with a total of six different players starting on the season. In 2019-20 there were eight, seven in 2018-19, 17 in 2017-18, eight in 2016-17 and 14 in 2015-16.

CRASH THAT GLASS

UTEP pulls down 9.7 offensive rebounds per contest, with Tydus Verhoeven (1.8 orpg) leading the way. Keonte Kennedy (1.6 orpg) and Jamari Sibley (1.2 orpg) also account for at least 1.1 offensive board per game.

ALL ABOUT THOSE POINTS

UTEP poured in a DI season-high 87 points in the rout of Southern Miss, its fourth game with at least 80 points this year. That is the most such efforts in a campaign by a UTEP team since 2018-19 when it also had four in the entire season. The Miners also eclipsed 70 points in each of the first four contests for the first time in six years. Guards Souley Boum (18.5 ppg), Jamal Bieniemy (14.2 ppg) and Keonte Kennedy (13.3 ppg) and are all in double figures for scoring average. The last time UTEP had a player account for at least 20.0 ppg was in 2008-09 (Stephon Jackson), something Boum is 1.5 ppg shy of currently doing. Jorell Saterfield (8.1 ppg), Christian Agnew (5.7 ppg) and Jamari Sibley (5.6 ppg) are also  above 5.0 ppg.

THE BENCH BUNCH

UTEP’s reserves have outscored the opposition in 11 of the 15 contests on the season, including last time out in the win against Southern Miss (22-18).

TURN IT OVER

UTEP is third in Conference USA and 37th in the country by forcing 16.3 turnovers per game, which is aided by coming up with 8.2 steals per game (fourth C-USA/60th NCAA). Keonte Kennedy (2.1 spg-fourth C-USA/42nd NCAA) and Jamal Bieniemy (1.9 spg-seventh C-USA/89th NCAA) have been the catalysts.

THAT’S A GOOD MARGIN

UTEP has caused 16+ turnovers eight times on the year while committing 14 or less on 10 occasions. Furthermore, the Miners have made the same or fewer amount of turnovers compared to the opposition in 12 of the 15 games this year. The result is a +3.8 turnover margin (second C-USA/38th NCAA). UTEP is making 12.5 turnovers per game (seventh C-USA) while forcing 16.4 (third C-USA/37th NCAA).

THEY ARE CALLED FREE THROWS FOR A REASON

UTEP is taking care of business at the charity stripe, connecting on 76.6 percentage at the line (second C-USA/32nd NCAA). Six different Miners have hit at least 70 percent from the charity stripe this year, with Souley Boum setting the tone at 85.7 percent.

KNOCK THINGS DOWN

The Miners have shot better than 40 percent eight times thus far in 2021-22. They head into Thursday’s outing at 41.4 percent from the floor. Freshmen Jamari Sibley (52.8 percent) and Kevin Kalu (52.4 percent) and are both above 50.0 percent (min. 15 FGA) to lead the way.

WIN BIG

All eight victories for UTEP have been by at least eight points, including six by double figures.

NOTHING STOPS SOULEY

Souley Boum has dealt with both a broken finger on his non-shooting hand (missed one game), Covid-19 protocols (missed two games) and illness (missed one game) but he continues to produce. He is pouring in 18.5 ppg, which would be third in C-USA if he had played in at least 75 percent of the contests. Boum also paces the Miners and is among the C-USA and NCAA leaders for free throws made (66-second C-USA/24th NCAA) and attempted (77-third C-USA/53rrd NCAA).

JB’S WORLD

Jamal Bieniemy reached double figures in scoring in the first seven games of the season, eclipsing his prior effort of four that he achieved in nonconference play last year. That streak was halted when he had just 11 minutes of action at No. 8 Kansas due to an injury. Bieniemy missed the ensuing two games with injuries before returning to play at the WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational. He has regained his early-season form, with big games against both LA Tech and Southern Miss. Bieniemy set collegiate bests for points (28), field goals made (10) and attempted (21) and 3-pointers made (six) and attempted (11) against the Bulldogs before following that up with 19 points and seven assists against the Golden Eagles. His 14.2 points per game (16th C-USA) are second on the team. He has paced  UTEP in scoring in six games, doing so three times a year ago. He also tops the team in assists per game (3.3-10th C-USA).

KEONTE DOES IT ALL

Keonte Kennedy was having a career year before sustaining an injury against Bradley that has forced him to miss three consecutive contests. He leads the team in rebounding (5.9 rebounds per game) and steals (2.1 steals per game while rating third on the squad in scoring (13.3 points per game). He has started all but one game he has appeared in (11 of 12), and is playing 34.0 mpg (second on team).

SATERFIELD FROM DOWNTOWN

Jorell Saterfield is proving to be a big-time threat whether he’s starting or is coming off the bench. That is especially true from 3-point range. The Ranger College transfer is leading the team in 3-point percentage (min. 30 3FGA), nailing 44.9 percent (22-49). He has made 22 three-point shots and 13 two-point field goals. Overall, he is putting up 8.1 points per game (fourth on team) in only 19.9 minutes per contest.

KALU NETS FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK

UTEP forward Kevin Kalu was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Week, the league office announced Dec. 20. He became the first Miner to claim the honor since Jordan Lathon did during the 2018-19 season (Feb. 25, 2019). The Baltimore, Md., product came alive with career highs in points (eight) and assists (two) while adding four rebounds to help hold off upset-minded McNeese, 82-72, on Dec. 16. Kalu played 25 minutes and didn’t miss a shot from the field (2-2) or at the charity stripe (4-4).

TALKING 20+ POINT GAMES

Souley Boum has five 20+ point games this season and 31 in his career between San Fransisco and UTEP. Jamal Bieniemy has surpassed 20 points three times in 2021-22, surpassing his total (two) from 24 contests a year ago.

MILESTONE TRACKER

Souley Boum (started at San Francisco) has surpassed 1,000 points in a UTEP uniform (1,066-31st all time at school), becoming the first Miner to join the club in five years and 35th overall. For his career he now has a total of 1,460 points while appearing in 103 games (67 at UTEP). He has also made 181 3-pointers, with 134 at UTEP (sixth all time at school). He needs seven treys to move past Mark Ingles (140, 1994-96) and into fifth place on the Miner career charts. Christian Agnew (started at North Alabama) is on the verge of 900 points for his collegiate career (895). Jamal Bieniemy (started at Oklahoma) has moved past 700 career points (711) for his college career, including 382 at UTEP. He’s also eclipsed 300 assists (345) for his college career, including 139 helpers at UTEP. He has appeared in more than 100 collegiate games (101), with the majority (83) at UTEP. Alfred Hollins (started at Oregon State) has moved beyond 500 career points (556) and surpassed 100 career games played (110). Tydus Verhoeven (started at Duquesne) has more than 300 rebounds (328) for his collegiate career, with the most at UTEP (222) while also surpassing 100 career blocks (116).

THE BASIC FACTS ON UTEP

–   This is the 101st season of UTEP men’s basketball. The Miners made history by starting five African-Americans to defeat Kentucky, 72-65, and win the 1966 NCAA Championship on the way to inspiring the Disney hit movie Glory Road. Overall, UTEP has 17 NCAA Tournament appearances (last in 2010), 11 NIT bids (last in 2015), 12 conference championships (last in 2010) and 26 seasons with at least 20+ victories (last in 2015).

–   UTEP is 8-7 in 2021-22. There are 17 home games (6-4 thus far) and 13 road contests (2-3 thus far) prior to the C-USA Championships (March 8-12, 2022).

–   The Miners returned four starters (Jamal Bieniemy, Souley Boum, Keonte Kennedy and Tydus Verhoeven) and eight lettermen overall. Other returning lettermen are Christian Agnew, Cam Clardy, Gilles Dekoninck and Ze’Rik Onyema. Emmanuel White, who redshirted, also came back.

–   UTEP has six newcomers: Kezza Giffa, Alfred Hollins, Kevin Kalu, Bonke Maring, Jorell Saterfield and Jamari Sibley.

–  The Miners brought back four of their five leading scorers from 2020-21 in the form of Souley Boum (18.8 ppg), Keonte Kennedy (8.6 ppg), Jamal Bieniemy (8.6 ppg) and Christian Agnew (6.1 ppg).

COMING SOON TO EL PASO

JUCO standout Jon Dos Anjos (nationally-ranked Florida SouthWestern State) has signed a national letter of intent to enroll at UTEP and play for the men’s basketball team beginning in 2022-23. Dos Anjos will have two years of eligibility for the Miners. He was a first-team all-league performer for the Bucs in 2020-21, helping them go 18-5 and advance to the semifinals of the FCSAA State Tournament. He averaged 10.3 points and 5.7 rebounds while playing in all 23 games, including 20 starts.

GOLDING ERA UNDERWAY

Joe Golding has embarked on his first season with UTEP, and as the 20th head coach in program history. He is the eighth head coach for the Miners since legendary Hall of Fame Coach Don Haskins retired following the 1998-99 season. Golding is 166-151 in his 11th season as a collegiate head coach, including 8-7 at UTEP. He spent 10 years at ACU (158-144), helping it transition from a Division II to a Division I program. Golding led the Wildcats to the past two NCAA Tournaments played, including a stunning upset as a 14-seed of third-seeded Texas in the first round of the 2021 Big Dance.

LOOKING TO JOIN AN EXCLUSIVE GROUP

First-year head coach Joe Golding (8-7 thus far) is hoping to be part of an exclusive group at UTEP. Of the previous 19 head coaches at UTEP, only three have put together a winning season in their first year on the sidelines in the Sun City. Don Haskins became the first when he directed the Miners to a mark of 18-6 in 1961-62. Doc Sadler (27-8, 2004-05) and Tim Floyd (25-10, 2010-11) also achieved the feat. Overall, the prior 19 head coaches have combined to forge an average record of 9-13 in their first year with UTEP.

EXPERIENCED STAFF

The Miners have an experienced staff on the sidelines for the 2021-22 season, each of whom are in their first year in the Sun City. Between head coach Joe Golding (22 years), associate head coach Jeremy Cox (30 years) and assistant coaches Butch Pierre (37 years) and Earl Boykins (eight years), the Miner coaching staff has a combined 97 years of experience at coaches at 26 different stops along the way at varying levels of competition. Boykins is the least experienced in terms of coaching, but he’s the most accomplished on the court after playing 12 seasons in the NBA.

PRESEASON HONORS

Souley Boum was tabbed a Preseason All-Conference honoree, it was announced before the season by the Conference USA office. A 2021 All C-USA third team member, Boum ranked third in C-USA in scoring (18.8 ppg) and fifth in the league in total points (450). He also paced the conference and was 15th in the country with 130 made free throws. Boum knocked down his free throws at a rate of 81.2 percent, which was good enough for eighth in C-USA. He also led UTEP in steals (34) and dished out 60 assists.

PRESEASON PREMONITIONS

UTEP was predicted to finish 10th in Conference USA, according to the preseason poll that was announced prior to the season by the league office. UAB (190 points) was slated first, followed by LA Tech (second-184 points), WKU (third-162 points), Marshall (fourth-147 points), Old Dominion (fifth-130 points), North Texas (sixth-124 points), Charlotte (seventh-110 points), Rice (eighth-104 points), Florida Atlantic (ninth-84 points), UTEP (10th-82 points), UTSA (11th-48 points), Southern Miss (12th-42 points), FIU (13th-36 points) and Middle Tennessee (14th-28 points).

LOOKING TO REGAIN WINNING WAYS IN C-USA

UTEP (1-2) thus far in C-USA play) entered the 2022 league slate in search of its first winning record in Conference USA play since 2017 when the Miners went 12-6 in the league to finish tied for third. That year capped a run of five straight seasons with winning marks in conference action, the longest since 11 straight such efforts under Don Haskins from 1980-90.

UP NEXT

UTEP will wrap up its time in the Eastern Time Zone to square off against Old Dominion at 5 p.m. MT/7 p.m. ET on Saturday (Jan. 13). Jon Teicher (41st year) will be on the call, which can be followed on 600 ESPN El Paso and the UTEP Miners App. It will also be streamed on ESPN+.