Well, it could be worse right?

Last week:

1/25 at UAB (L 85-78)
The Miners were never really out of the game in this one but just couldn’t get stops down the stretch (we’ve heard that a bunch of times this year). Trey Wade, Evan Gilyard, and Kobe Magee led the Miners in double figures.

1/27 at MTSU (L 81-50)
UTEP never had a chance. Middle did whatever they wanted offensively and didn’t give the Miners anything on the offensive side. The Miners only scored 19 points at the half and were shooting 22%. Gilyard became an instant star with the video that streamed everywhere off him slipping on the wet floor….

The Good:

•Freshman. They have proved week in and week out that they are the ones taking over the program.
•That’s really about it.

The Bad:

•The Miners have only made more free throws than the opponent once during conference play.
•Upperclassmen. The biggest disappointment this year is arguably the contributions of the seniors and juniors.

Weekly Facts:

•Miners had three freshman (Gilyard, Wade and Magee) score in double figures versus UAB for the first time since 1982 (Dave Feitl, Kevin Hamilton and Wayne Campbell).
•Kobe currently leads the team with 43 assists. He could be the first freshman to lead the Miners in assists in a season since Malik Alvin in 2006-07 and only the third in school history. Gilyard has 31 assists, putting two freshman in position to have 40+ assists for the first time in school history.
•Kobe Magee has the 4th best assist to turnover ratio in conference (2.8).
•Miners were 1-6 in the month of January.
•UTEP has lost 11 straight when shooting below 40%
•Miners have won 9 straight when making 20+ free throws.

The Week Ahead:

2/1 vs WKU (15-6, 7-1 C-USA)
Arguably the most talented team in the conference, the Hiltoppers are making a trip to El Paso for the first time since that 1966 celebration game. Too bad the Miners won’t have the same atmosphere and crowd to help them this time. WKU has a big inside presence with Justin Johnson and Dwight Coleby who both average a near double-double and should dominate the paint. On the perimeter WKU has 5 guys that can cause problems, most notably Darius Thompson. Thompson is averaging 15 PPG, 4.8 APG and 4.7 RPG. He contributes in all facets of the game. If the Miners come out hot then they’ll be in for a long night. Hot start and winning the battle at the free throw line are keys.

2/3 vs Marshall (14-7, 5-4 C-USA)
It will be a totally different game plan than vs WKU. Marshall loves to push the tempo and just score more points than the other team. They have a great core of players in Elmore, Burks and Penava. Teams have tried to control Elmore but haven’t really fared well. He finds way to get his teammates involved as he leads the league in total point produced. The last time these two teams played in the Don, the Miners won 112-108 in regulation. There will be a lot of points scored in this one and if the Miners are winning one this week, this is the game.

Final Thoughts:

We’re halfway through the C-USA season and the Miners are right on the edge of missing the conference tournament for the first time. Luckily, Rice and Charlotte are a bit more awful than the Miners this year so winning a couple more games would pretty much guarantee us a spot.

It’s kind of sad that we’re talking about potentially missing the tournament – conference tournament – with the amount of talent this team has but here we are. 7-14 and 2-7 in C-USA. Remember all the hype the team was getting during the scrimmages and season opener? Seems like that was years ago. Last week I mentioned that I didn’t think this team had a solidified leader of the squad. I’m sticking to that.
But I will say this, the freshman class has been very impressive. Kobe Magee, Evan Gilyard, Trey Wade and Tirus Smith have all brought something to the table and are arguably playing the best of any group on the team. Include sophomore Isiah Osborne in that group and the Miners have a good looking core of young players.

With the second half of the conference season coming up, one can only hope that Omega and Willms play to the level Miner fans know they can and that Frazier gets out of his shooting slump. Because if they don’t, the Miners will be watching the conference tournament from home.

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