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UTEP to open final homestand vs. Western Kentucky Thursday

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Courtesy: UTEP Athletics

EL PASO, Texas - The UTEP men’s basketball team (13-16, 6-12 C-USA) will open the final week of the regular season and its last homestand by playing host to WKU (15-14, 7-11 C-USA) at 7 p.m. MT Thursday.

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

The Miners will be vying for a season split in the series after being held off on the road, 74-69, on Feb. 4.

UTEP went 1-1 on its roadswing through the “Sunshine State,” posting a wire-to-wire 87-82 win at FIU on Feb. 23 before falling at 2023 C-USA regular-season champion Florida Atlantic, 75-49, on Feb. 25, last time out.

The Hilltoppers were 1-1 last week as well, most recently sustaining a 72-60 defeat at the hands of UAB at home on Feb. 25 on “Senior Day.”

UTEP is 10-6 on the season at home (3-5 C-USA), but it is vying to snap a four-game skid in the Sun City.

The Miners will be closing out the regular season at home in back-to-back seasons for the first time since a three-year run (2014-15 through 2016-17).

The contest against WKU is the first of two at home to wrap up the 2022-23 regular season, with the Orange and Blue playing host to Middle Tennessee for “Senior Day” at 12 p.m. MT Saturday.

The Miners will be vying for a season split with the Blue Raiders, in addition to taking aim at their fourth consecutive victory on “Senior Day.” 

Jon Teicher (42nd year) will be on the call on “The Home of UTEP Basketball” 600 ESPN El Paso for each contest.

Both will also stream on ESPN+ with Erik Elken (PXP) and Hooper Vint (analyst) describing the action. To purchase tickets, visit or call (915) 747-UTEP. Prices start as low as $9.15.


WKU leads the series, 7-1, including a 74-69 win against the Miners in Bowling Green, Ky., on Feb. 4, earlier this season.

Thursday’s match-up will mark the first time that the two sides will be squaring off twice in a year.

It is also the initial visit to El Paso for the Hilltoppers since the 2017-18 campaign and just the third all time.

UTEP is 1-1 vs. WKU at the Don Haskins Center, with the win coming in OT in front of a capacity crowd as part of the 50-year celebration of the Miners winning the 1966 NCAA Championship vs. Kentucky, 72-65.


WKU is 15-14 on the season, including 7-11 in Conference USA play.

The Hilltoppers have lost three of the past four, including a 72-60 decision at home against UAB last time out on Feb. 25.

WKU was predicted to finish second in the league’s preseason poll, including receiving one first-place vote, but it enters the final week of the regular season tied for seventh place.

Dayvion McKnight, Emmanuel Akot and Jamarion Sharp were all Preseason All C-USA team selections.

WKU started the season strong at 8-3 in nonconference play. It was 3-3 in C-USA play before dropping five straight.

The Hilltoppers responded with three consecutive victories before going 1-3 since. WKU puts up 73.3 points per game (fourth C-USA), with McKnight (16.7 ppg-sixth C-USA), Akot (10.5 ppg) and Jairus Hamilton (10.2 ppg) all in double figures to lead the way offensively.

It does a good job at the charity stripe (73.5 percent-fourth C-USA) and is fourth in the league as well for both assists per game (13.3) and 3-point percentage (36.8).

The Toppers yield 70.8 points per game (eighth C-USA) but defend the rim extremely well thanks to the intimidating presence of the nation’s leading shot blocker in 7-5 Jamarion Sharp.

He is first in the country for both blocks per game (4.32) and total blocked shots (121), helping WKU pace the conference and rate fifth nationally with 5.5 bpg.

Another strength for the Toppers is ball security, as they make only 11.3 turnovers per game (second C-USA/61st NCAA).

They have been challenged with rebounding (-2.1 margin-10th C-USA/285th NCAA), along with guarding the triple (36.0-ninth C-USA/299th NCAA).

Notable university alumni include Romeo Crennel (former head coach of the Cleveland Browns & KC Chiefs), the late Duncan Hines (pioneer of restaurant ratings for travelers) and the late Cordell Hull (Secretary of State under FDR)

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