Wayne Portalatin, Sophomore, Center, 0.6 ppg, 1.6 rpg
Key UTEP Roleplayers:
Claude Britten, Sophomore, Center, 4.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.1 bpg
Randy Culpepper, Sophomore, Guard, 17.4 ppg, 1.8 apg
Gabriel McCulley, Sophomore, Guard, 4.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Tavaris Watts, Senior, Forward, 5.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Why UTEP Can Surprise:
Stefon Jackson and Randy Culpepper are two of the most underappreciated scorers in the nation. Jackson only averages 24.2 points per game and Culpepper adds 17.4. Jackson is not much of an outside shooter, but obviously he will finish around the basket very effectively. Jackson gets to the charity stripe an average of 10.5 times per games and he hits 84.0 percent of his attempts once he is there. Those are both amazing numbers and because he does not have to depend on his outside shooting, the 6-5 senior rarely has a bad outing.
Culpepper, on the other hand, does depend on his three-point shooting. He hits nearly 35 percent of his attempts from long range and knocks down 2.4 per contest. Culpepper has scored 25 or more points on six occasions and UTEP has won five of those games. When he is having a good day, the Miners can score a bunch of points in a hurry.
Why The Miners Can Disappoint: Coach Tony Barbee has a pretty deep bench, but there are not any consistent scoring options after Jackson and Culpepper. Forward Arnett Moultrie will occasionally have a solid scoring game, but most of his production comes on the glass and on the defensive side of the floor. Kareem Cooper was the other interior scorer, but he left the team in February to pursue a professional career. Without the 7-0, 285 pound Cooper clogging the paint, the Miners will have to depend on some less experienced players like Tavaris Watts, Claude Britten and Wayne Portalatin to cover more minutes. However, Britten missed the last three games of the regular season and is questionable for any postseason play
Who To Watch: Julyan Stone will usually not be the answer when Coach Barbee is looking for a third scorer. However, the 6-6 guard is an extremely versatile player who will do just about everything else to help his team win. Stone is a superb passer and he will use his size to his advantage and find passing lanes that smaller guards could not see. It is also his size and tenacity that makes Stone a great rebounder. He tallies 5.4 boards per gameand getting that kind of production from a point guard is why UTEP is an above average rebounding team. Stone’s best asset however is his defense. He has the quickness to defend smaller players, but his long wingspan will make it difficult for any opposing guard to get a good shot off.
UTEP By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 75.2 (58th in nation, 2nd in conference)