UTEP Set to Take On Underrated Idaho Saturday
Dec. 6, 2012
Following a 10-day break between games, the UTEP basketball team will return to action on Saturday against Idaho at 7 p.m. in the Don Haskins Center.
The Miners and the Vandals will stage the nightcap of a doubleheader with the UTEP women, who will host Eastern New Mexico at 4:30 p.m. One ticket price - as low as $8 - is good for admission to both games. The UTEP ticket center number is 747-5234.
The Vandals are a deceptive 2-4 heading into a Thursday game at Eastern Washington. They are 0-2 on the road with losses to New Mexico on Nov. 23 (73-58) and Washington State on Nov. 28 (64-55). The Vandals led the Lobos at The Pit, 47-41, with a little over 15 minutes to play before getting outscored 32-11 down the stretch. Idaho was down by two points (53-51) at WSU with just over three minutes remaining before the Cougars closed the game with an 11-4 spurt.
"They are a very well coached team," UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. "They run some offensive sets that you just don't see much, and they run them very well with good personnel. They have played in tough venues. They're not going to come in here intimidated."
The Vandals racked up 19 victories last season and finished third in the Western Athletic Conference. They ended the year by making their second straight appearance in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. They return two starters and eight lettermen and have a pair of players averaging better than 15 points per game in junior forward Stephen Madison (15.8 ppg) and senior center Kyle Barone (15.2 ppg).
"Barone could very well end up being the player of the year in their conference," Floyd said. "They have an outstanding shooter in Conner Hill [.385 three-point field goal percentage]. Stephen Madison is a guy who can score inside or out. He is capable of having a 25-point night. I feel like they're every bit as talented as the New Mexico State team we played last week.
"Their RPI was better than ours a year ago. They are a quality team. They've played good people, much like we have."
After Saturday, the Miners will have another long stretch between games before tackling heavyweights UNLV (Dec. 17) and Oregon (Dec. 19) in the Haskins Center. They're certain to get guard Konner Tucker back soon, possibly as early as this weekend. Tucker broke a bone in his shooting hand in an exhibition win over Southeastern Oklahoma State on Nov. 3.
"I went through the full practice [on Wednesday] and my hand felt good," Tucker said. "It's a little sore today. I'm planning on practicing today and tomorrow and playing on Saturday."
Floyd, however, cautioned that Tucker may not be quite ready.
"It's still premature at this point to say whether or not he will play," he said. "His hand is still very tender."