Nov. 13, 2008
The UTEP women's basketball team will take on the defending Big 12 champions Kansas State Wildcats in the 2008-09 season opener for both teams at the Don Haskins Center at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Admission to the contest is free for fans that purchase a ticket for the UTEP men's game against Texas Southern, which is slated to start approximately one hour after the Miners and Wildcats tussle.
It marks the second straight year UTEP will christen the campaign against a member from the nation's top conference, and it is the first of three tilts in 2008-09 versus Big 12 foes.
Kansas State returns four starters and eight letterwinners from last year's squad which took home the conference crown and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for a fifth straight season.
The Miners bring back a pair of starters and six players from their own record-setting squad which posted a mark of 28-4- including an unprecedented 16-0 in Conference USA play- and also advanced into the second round of the "Big Dance."
UTEP and the Wildcats both went undefeated during the exhibition slate, with each team picking up a pair of victories. Returning junior starters Jareica Hughes and Timika Williams led the way in the exhibition romps, contributing 16.5 ppg and 12.0 ppg, respectively.
Hughes, the reigning Conference USA player of the year and a preseason 2008-09 Wooden National Player of the Year nominee, also contributed 4.0 assists per game and 2.0 steals per game. Williams, who has led UTEP in rebounding since arriving in the Sun City, looked to be in top form by averaging 10.0 boards per tilt.
As a team, the Miners shot 43.1 percent from the floor compared to a paltry effort of 33.0 by the opposition. UTEP's unselfish approach, which was crucial to the Miners' record-setting 2007-08 campaign, appears to be intact after the Orange and Blue racked up 35 assists.
Also evident was tough-nosed pressure defense that has become a staple of head coach Keitha Adams' squads. The Miners forced St. Mary's and the Houston Jaguars into committing a combined 34 turnovers, with 23 of those via steals.
The Wildcats were also impressive in the preseason, knocking off Washburn, 66-47, on Nov. 2 before powering past Emporia State, 89-57, on Nov. 7. During the two-game exhibition schedule, junior Ashley Sweat paced KSU with 18.0 ppg and 4.5 rpg.
Senior point guard Shalee Lehning, who joined Hughes as one of 30 players to be a preseason Wooden team honoree, contributed 12.0 ppg in addition to 7.0 apg, 6.5 rpg and 2.8 spg.
Action will be available live via the all-access page at www.utepathletics.com.