Texas-El Paso (1-1) vs. Oklahoma (2-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 22, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (5,000) -- Orlando, Florida. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: UTEP 1-0, OU 1-0. Away Record: UTEP 0-1, OU 1-0. Neutral Record: UTEP 0-0, OU 0-0. Conference Record: UTEP 0-0, OU 0-0. Series Record: Oklahoma leads, 3-1.
GAME NOTES: The Texas-El Paso Miners and the Oklahoma Sooners square off in the opening round of the 2012 Old Spice Classic, with the winner moving on to play either Clemson or Gonzaga in the semifinals, while the losers meet in the consolation bracket.
UTEP has been on both ends of lopsided affairs in its two games. The Miners opened up at home against Oral Roberts and won rather handily, 69-49, then traveled to Arizona and were beaten soundly by the 12th-ranked Wildcats, 72-51.
Oklahoma has also only played a pair of games in the first two weeks of the season. The Sooners hosted ULM in their opener and won in convincing fashion (85-51), then they went on the road and pulled out a tough decision from Texas-Arlington, 63-59.
Oklahoma leads the all-time series with UTEP, 3-1. The Miners only win came in 2009 in an 89-74 final.
The two games the Miners have played have had eerily similar results for both them and their opponents, as they are shooting 42.6 percent from the floor in averaging 60.0 ppg, while allowing 60.5 ppg on 43 percent field goal efficiency. Against Arizona, UTEP made only 16-of-44 shots from the field and committed 15 turnovers as it spent most of the contest down by double-digits. Brothers Julian and Chris Washburn each tallied 11 points, although Julian was just 4-of-12 shooting on the night and Chris committed six turnovers. On the season, the Washburns are the only Miners to average double figures in points, with Chris leading the way with 12.5 ppg and Julian right behind him at 11.0 ppg. UTEP has not been a strong rebounding team, grabbing just 25.5 rpg, resulting in a rebounding margin on negative-9.5.
Oklahoma is scoring (74.0 ppg) more than its counterpart this evening, but it actually shoots worse from the field (.405). The Sooners struggled mightily from the field against UTA, going 19-of-58, which included a dismal 5-of-22 effort in the second half as they almost saw their double-digit lead disappear completely. Buddy Hield came off the bench to lead the team with 17 points, and he was one of the few shooters of note, making 6-of-10 attempts from the field. The performance catapulted Hield to the team's top scorer with 13.0 ppg. Romero Osby struggled with his shot (4-of-12), but he finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Steven Pledger nets 12.0 ppg, and four others average between 8.0 and 9.5 ppg. Amath M'Baye (9.0 rpg) and Osby (8.5 rpg) are both strong rebounders, and they could cause matchup problems for a smaller, less physical UTEP squad.
Both teams have been defined by their inconsistencies so far, and a lot of that might have to do with the spread-out scheduling in the early going. Each will have their opportunity to get on a roll in this tournament however, and Oklahoma, with its big bodies inside, seems primed to advance to the semifinals.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma 68, Texas El-Paso 63
11/22 10:32:58 ET