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One-on-one with UTEP’s Joe Golding; Miners prepare for final road swing of season

EL PASO, Texas - The UTEP men’s basketball team (12-15, 5-11 C-USA) will hit the road for the final time of the 2022-23 regular season when it opens a two-game swing through the “Sunshine State” at FIU (13-14, 7-9 C-USA) at 5 p.m. MT/7 p.m. ET Thursday. 

Mattress Firm is the Presenting Sponsor of UTEP Men’s Basketball.

The Miners are in search of a season sweep and the 11th win in the past 12 match-ups between the programs.

Earlier this season, UTEP successfully defended its homecourt against the Panthers with an 81-61 romp on Jan. 19. Both the Miners and FIU have dropped back-to-back contests, with each eager for a win. 

UTEP is coming off a hard-fought 80-72 setback in OT to North Texas on Feb. 18 while the Panthers were upended at Middle Tennessee, 69-58.

The game against UNT marked UTEP’s fifth OT contest of the season, which ties as the most in program history along with the 1994-95 and 2011-12 squads.

It did set a record for most regular-season OT tilts at the school. 

UTEP is 2-9 on the road (2-6 C-USA) while FIU stands at 11-5 in Miami (5-3 C-USA).

The Miners are in the midst of a difficult schedule stretch, as they face the top-four teams (based on standings) in the league over the final six contests of the campaign.

That includes locking up at league-leading Florida Atlantic on Saturday to wrap up the final road trip of the regular season.  

Jon Teicher (42nd year) will be on the call on “The Home of UTEP Basketball” 600 ESPN El Paso. It will also stream on ESPN+


UTEP leads the series with FIU, 15-2, aided winning four straight and 10 of the past 11 meetings between the programs.

The Miners are 13-2 (including the C-USA tournament) against the Panthers since they joined the league.

Thursday’s tilt will be the first in Miami since the 2019-20 season (FIU won, 69-67). UTEP is searching for its initial road victory against the Panthers since taking them down, 84-74, in 2015-16.


FIU got off to a good start by going 4-2 out of the gates only to lose the next four contests.

It rallied back by winning four of five, including a 90-87 vanquishing of defending C-USA tournament champion UAB (Jan. 7).

The Panthers proceeded to fall in four straight, including an 81-61 loss at UTEP on Jan. 19.

They again bounced back by running off four in a row and five of six, only to drop the past two tilts to enter Thursday’s game at 13-14 overall (7-9 C-USA).

FIU produces 71.3 points per game (seventh C-USA), which is helped by connecting on 46.6 percent (fourth C-USA/70th NCAA). It likes to get out and run (11.8 fastbreak points/game-third C-USA/69th NCAA), with high-pressure defense making that possible.

The Panthers force 16.2 turnovers per game (second C-USA/21st NCAA) while coming up with 8.8 steals per game (second C-USA/25th NCAA). FIU has some shortcomings, ranking last in the conference in rebound margin (-6.1-344th NCAA) and 10th in free throws made per game (10.9-305th NCAA), free throws attempted per game (15.7-307th NCAA), scoring margin (-2.1-264th NCAA), 3-point percentage (31.6-302nd NCAA) and most turnovers per game (14.9-330th NCAA).

Denver Jones is explosive offensively with 19.9 points per game (third C-USA/29th NCAA), aided by nailing 2.0 treys per tilt (eighth C-USA). Arturo Dean (11.8 ppg-20th C-USA) joins him in double figures.

The duo is also a nuisance at the other end of the court, with Dean pacing C-USA at 2.5 steals per game (eighth NCAA). Jones is also among the leaders at 1.9 steals per contest (sixth C-USA/60th NCAA).

Seth Pinkney protects the rim well with 1.4 blocks per game (fourth C-USA/89th NCAA) while Mohamed Sanogo adds 1.2 blocks per tilt (seventh C-USA).

The effort by the pair has FIU at fourth in the league and 83rd nationally with 3.9 blocks per game. When Dean isn’t scoring, he’s dropping dimes with 3.3 assists per game (eighth C-USA). FIU is basically even (933-924) in the first half of games for a margin of +0.4 (34.6-34.2).  That slips to -2.8 after the break (36.0-38.4).

Notable school alumni include Andy Garcia (actor) and Dennis Lehane (author of Mystic River).


Tae Hardy (18 points, six rebounds), Shamar Givance (16 points, two steals), Ze’Rik Onyema (14 points, four boards) and Calvin Solomon (12 points, four assists, three rebounds) all had quality nights and UTEP nailed a season-high 78.3 percent (25-32) at the charity stripe, but second-place North Texas held off the Miners in overtime, 80-72, at the Don Haskins Center on Feb. 18. 

UTEP was down two with 4.7 seconds to play when Solomon put back an intentional miss by Otis Frazier III to send the game to OT. The Mean Green built a seven-point lead in OT (73-66, 1:29 OT).

The Miners whittled it to as few as three (73-70, 55 seconds OT) before UNT staved off the rally.

Article Topic Follows: UTEP

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