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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Men's Basketball

UH heads West to take on Miners

The Cougars hit the road again as they travel to El Paso to take on the UTEP Miners at 9 p.m today.

UH head coach Tom Penders knows his team will be taking on one of the hottest teams in Conference USA.  The Cougars (11-9, 4-3 C-USA) look to make it two wins in a row after posting an 81-66 victory over Marshall on Saturday night. Tonight also marks the return to the national airwaves for the Cougars, as the game can be seen on CBS College Sports.

Senior guard Aubrey Coleman will likely lead the Cougars’ offensive attack.  Coleman, the nation’s leading scorer at 26.2 points per game, is coming off his best scoring performance of the season after a 37-point performance against the Thundering Herd. 

Saturday’s outburst marked the third consecutive game in which Coleman has scored at least 30 points. He also snagged 13 rebounds, another season high, in the game.

Penders said the Cougars will need to “control the tempo of the game” and continue to get support from their big men and their post game. 

“Regardless of the pace, our guys will have to show poise,” Penders said. “Our veteran guys like Aubrey will be OK, but some of the new guys will have to maintain poise because it will be a difficult environment.”

He also says his team must slow down Miners junior guard Randy Culpepper, the team’s leading scorer at 17.1 points per game. They also must contain UTEP’s inside combo of Derrick Caracter and Arnett Moultrie.  Caracter is a former high school All-American who transferred from Louisville after two subpar seasons with the Cardinals. He leads the Miners with 8.6 rebounds per game.  

Moultrie, who was a member of last summer’s USA Under-19 Gold Medal team, is one of the top NBA prospects in the conference. Standing at 6-11, Moultrie is averaging 11. 5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, but his potential is what has scouts drooling. He is only a sophomore and already a presence inside for UTEP.

Penders said that he is impressed with the way some of his other players, especially forward Kendrick Washington, have stepped up their games as of late. He says he needs production out of everybody, no matter what kind of offensive set he has on the floor, whether it’s four guards or the traditional two forwards, two guards and a center.

The Miners (15-5, 6-1) could very well be the sleeper team of C-USA.  They enter tonight’s game riding a five-game winning streak, including wins at then-No. 25 UAB and defending conference champion Memphis. In the victory over the Tigers, UTEP ended a 64-game conference-winning streak and prevented Memphis from breaking the national record for consecutive wins against conference opponents.  The Miners garnered national attention for that road win against the Tigers. 

While their recent success is more in line with what was expected of the Miners entering the season, UTEP will have a score to settle when it takes on the Cougars tonight. In its last meeting on Jan. 13, UH topped UTEP 75-65 at Hofheinz Pavilion, and Miners head coach Tony Barbee knows that game was there for the taking.

“We have to play better offensively (today) than we did at Houston,” Barbee said. “We played well enough defensively up there, holding Aubrey Coleman and Kelvin Lewis below their season scoring averages.”

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UTEP forward Arnett Moultrie and the rest of the Miners’ talented frontcourt will be the latest challenge for the Cougars as they travel to El Paso for tonight's game. | Courtesy of UTEP Prospector

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