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January 1, 2009UTEP (7-5) plays its first game of 2009 at home versus UT-Pan American (4-8) on Friday. Tip-off is slated for 8:05 p.m. MST.
The Miners are 5-1 at home this season, while UT-Pan American is winless in four road games, falling at UNLV (73-48), California (85-58), Drake (59-57) and Air Force (71-50). UTEP and UT-American have had two common opponents this season. The Miners lost to UNLV at home, 80-67, on Nov. 24. Both teams beat Sul Ross State, with UTEP posting a 111-76 exhibition victory on Nov. 8 and the Broncs knocking off the Lobos in their season opener, 84-59, on Nov. 15.
The Miners have lost their first game of the new year in five of the last seven seasons, including an 86-85 overtime setback to New Mexico at the Don Haskins Center to christen 2008.
UTEP is 9-8 in January under third-year head coach Tony Barbee, including 4-4 last season. The Miners will play nine games in January this year -- four at home and five on the road.
UTEP leads the series 13-0, including 11-0 in El Paso. The other previous matchups took place in Edinburg (during the 1965-66 season) and Lafayette, La. (during the 1971-72 season in the Bayou Classic). The closest margin of victory for the Miners in the series was two points (67-65 during the 1966-67 season and 79-77 during the 1971-72 season), and the largest margin of victory was 47 points (100-53 during the 1968-69 season).
Stefon Jackson scored a career-high 44 points at Santa Clara to become UTEP's all-time leading scorer. He now has 1,841 points, 10 more than the previous record-holder Brandon Wolfram (1,831 points).
Jackson is on pace to become Conference USA's all-time scoring leader before the end of the season as well. He currently ranks sixth after passing TCU's Corey Santee (1,832 points) at Santa Clara. Jackson needs 177 points to pass C-USA's all-time leader Alltron Jackson of USF (2,017 points).
Jackson's 44-point explosion against Santa Clara raised his scoring average from 22.6 points per game to 24.4. That puts him tied for fifth in the nation in scoring behind Davidson's Stephen Curry (29.9 ppg), Chicago State's David Holston (26.9 ppg), Tennessee-Martin's Lester Hudson (25.8 ppg) and Utah Valley's Ryan Toolson (24.8 ppg).
Jackson is also first nationally in free throws made (104), and second in free throws attempted (126) behind Oklahoma's [/db]Blake Griffin[/db] (146).
Jackson's 44 points at Santa Clara tied for the second-most in a game by a Conference USA player. Houston's Robert McKiver tallied 52 points against Southern Miss a year ago, and Rice's Morris Almond netted 44 versus Vanderbilt during the 2006-07 campaign.
In addition, Jackson's 44 points tie for the third-most by a player in Division I this season. North Dakota State's Ben Woodside scored 60 versus Stephen F. Austin on Dec. 12, and Kentucky's Jodie Meeks posted 46 against Appalachian State on Dec. 20.