UTEP Announces 2009-10 Men's Basketball Non-Conference Schedule
Aug. 21, 2009
UTEP has finalized its 2009-10 men's basketball non-conference schedule. The Miners will play 15 games, including two exhibitions, leading into their Conference USA slate.
"The schedule has good balance," UTEP coach Tony Barbee said. "It's the toughest non-conference schedule we've attempted since I've been here. We have a veteran team that has a chance to make a run. You can't do that playing a soft schedule."
Highlighting the schedule is the renewal of a long-standing Western Athletic Conference rivalry with BYU. The Cougars, 25-8 last season and in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in nine years, will make their first visit to the Don Haskins Center since 1999. UTEP will host BYU on Jan. 9, 2010.
The Miners have a couple of high-profile neutral site games scheduled versus Mississippi in Southhaven and Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. The Rebels have posted two 20-win seasons in three years under coach Andy Kennedy, including a 24-win, NIT Final Four campaign in 2007-08. Oklahoma also has a storied program with 26 NCAA Tournament berths, including 13 over the last 15 seasons. The Sooners were 30-6 in 2008-09 and reached the Elite Eight of "The Big Dance."
"Oklahoma has one of the top five players in college basketball in Willie Warren," Barbee said. "He would have been a lottery pick in this year's NBA Draft. It should be a tough game versus a nationally ranked team in their home state."
The Sun Bowl Basketball Tournament returns to the schedule, with Air Force, Niagara and Norfolk State joining UTEP in the 48th edition of the event. The Miners have won the tournament on 27 occasions and advanced to the title game 39 times. Air Force is another old WAC adversary and Niagara was a 26-game winner in 2008-09 with a postseason trip to the NIT.
"Everybody is excited about the Sun Bowl Tournament coming back," Barbee said. "This year's tournament has a tough field."
UTEP will also take on regional rival Texas Tech for the 11th consecutive season, with this year's matchup in Lubbock on Jan. 3.
The I-10 rivalry games versus New Mexico State are slated for Dec. 1 in Las Cruces and Dec. 13 in El Paso.
The Miners will tip-off the 2009-10 schedule with an exhibition versus New Mexico Highlands on Nov. 7, part of five straight games in the Haskins Center to christen the year. The regular season opener is on Nov. 13 against Texas Southern.
The Miners have their second exhibition against University of the Southwest scheduled for Dec. 5, breaking up a long lull between regular season games on Dec. 1 and Dec. 13.
UTEP's C-USA schedule will be announced later this month.
The Miners return seven letterwinners and three starters from last year's squad that posted 23 wins, went 10-6 in C-USA and advanced to the CBI Finals.
Season tickets are on sale now by calling (915) 747-6150.