UTEP might run quite the same offense as the "Memphis West" approach of previous coach Tony Barbee, but veteran coach Tim Floyd didn't need to do much tinkering when he arrived.
"He clearly has his own philosophy and identity, but he's letting his guys play because they're a veteran group," Herrion said. "They guard very well in the halfcourt, defensively, and offensively they've got really good balance. Obviously, Culpepper can score and on any given night they've got four guys who can hurt you."
UTEP (21-8, 9-5) is in a four-way tie for second place in C-USA, a game behind sole leader Alabama-Birmingham and a game ahead of the Herd. The Miners fell out of NCAA bracket projections recently when they lost three in a four-game stretch, but snapped out of it last weekend with a 74-47 pummeling of Memphis in El Paso.
Floyd thinks his team should get back in the picture, issuing a spirited defense of the conference after that game.
"This league is terrific. We just beat a team [Memphis] that had beaten Gonzaga on the road, who they say is in [the NCAA tournament]," Floyd said. "UCF beat Florida, who they say is in. We're going to play a team on Wednesday, Marshall, who beat West Virginia a month ago at a neutral site.
"We may not win this one [tonight], because [Southern Mississippi coach] Larry Eustachy told me that Marshall is as talented as anybody in the conference."
The Herd is as hot as anybody in the conference, for certain. And while Herrion's team may be an underdog tonight, its Rating Percentage Index is 15 spots higher than UTEP in one simulation (55 vs. 70).
Between that and a crowded standings table, this game carries a fair amount of importance for both senior-laded Miners and the younger Herd.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsm...@wvgazette.com.