UTEP Beefs Up Basketball Non-Conference Schedule With Arizona
June 3, 2014
Since Tim Floyd became UTEP's head coach four years ago, the Miners have faced the likes of Oregon, UNLV, Colorado State, New Mexico State, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Air Force and Stephen F. Austin in non-conference play at the Don Haskins Center.
The Miners' 2014-15 home slate is bigger and better than ever before, however, with the inclusion of 31-time NCAA Tournament participant Arizona. The Wildcats (33-5 last season) will play in El Paso for the first time in 20 years on Dec. 19.
"We are excited to announce our non-conference schedule, which will be our most challenging schedule since we've been here," Floyd said. "We have two Pac-12 teams at home with Washington State in our opener followed by the University of Arizona on Dec. 19. We have two games versus NCAA Tournament team New Mexico State, a game at Colorado State and the Wooden Legacy Tournament, which will be on ESPN and has always featured one of the strongest fields in the country. The Sun Bowl Tournament, with the likes of North Dakota State who beat Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year, along with Kent State and Alcorn State will provide its own set of challenges. We know that this type of non-conference schedule will position us to be able to play in our league."
Arizona has made the Sweet 16 sixteen times (including in each of the last two years), the Elite Eight 10 times, the Final Four on four occasions and won the 1997 national title.
Arizona is ranked no. 2 on ESPN analyst Jeff Goodman's preseason list of the top-50 teams. The Wildcats return three regular starters (Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski, T.J. McConnell), along with Gabe York and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who started 12 and six games respectively, while introducing a recruiting class ranked in the top-10 nationally with three top-100 prospects.
UTEP last faced Arizona in the Haskins Center on Dec. 17, 1994.
"I think our fans will be excited about an Arizona team coming in here that could very well be ranked number one in the country when we see them," Floyd said.
The Miners will also host Washington State and I-10 rival NMSU in non-league action. The Miners will play host to the 53rd Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational as well. UTEP will play at NMSU and Colorado State and participate in the Wooden Legacy Tournament over Thanksgiving weekend in Anaheim.
Following the annual free admission Orange & White Scrimmage (Nov. 1), UTEP's 94th season will get underway with an exhibition against Southeastern Oklahoma State on Nov. 8. It marks the third year in a row that the Miners have tipped off their slate versus the Storm.
Washington State, under the direction of new head coach Ernie Kent, will make its first appearance in the Haskins Center since 1998 for the regular season opener on Nov. 14.
For only the sixth time in the last 24 years, UTEP and NMSU will open their two-game set in the Haskins Center on Nov. 22. The rematch is on Dec. 6 in Las Cruces. The Aggies are coming off three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths.
The Miners will take part in the Wooden Legacy Tournament Nov. 27-30 in Anaheim. The tournament field, including Xavier, will be announced this summer. UTEP will be participating in a Thanksgiving tournament for the fourth time in five years under coach Floyd. The Miners played in the Legends Classic in Atlantic City in 2010, the Old Spice Classic in Orlando in 2012 and the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas in 2013.
The Wooden Legacy Tournament begins a stretch of five straight games away from El Paso, including road matchups with Colorado State (Dec. 3) and NMSU (Dec. 6).
UTEP will start a season-long six-game homestand against Incarnate Word on Dec. 8. The Miners will battle Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 16, Arizona on Dec. 19, then join Alcorn State, Kent State and 2014 NCAA Tournament participant North Dakota State in the Sun Bowl tournament. North Dakota State beat no. 5 seed Oklahoma, 80-75, in the "Big Dance" last spring.
UTEP has two long December breaks - one from Dec. 9-16 for finals week, and another for the holiday season from Dec. 23-30.
The Miners will shake off the rust with an exhibition game versus Langston on Dec. 30, two days prior to the start of Conference USA play on Jan. 1. The 18-game league schedule will be announced later this summer.
Season tickets will go on sale Monday, June 9.