POSTED: Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 8:23pm
UPDATED: Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 10:00pm
UTEP’s 2012-13 men’s basketball schedule may be months away from being finalized, but coach Tim Floyd offered a sneak peak at what may be the Miners’ most challenging slate in decades.
Oregon and UNLV will both face the Miners in the Don Haskins Center this season, and Oral Roberts is in negotiations to play a game in El Paso. UTEP will also join Clemson, Davidson, Gonzaga, Marist, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt and West Virginia in the Old Spice Classic Nov. 22-25 in Orlando.
“I think our fans, at least going back to the ‘80s, have been accustomed to seeing great teams come in here to play, including the Sun Bowl tournament and some strong New Mexico State teams,” Floyd said. “We think our home schedule is the best it has been in years, and as our team matures we’re looking forward to continuing to bring quality teams to El Paso.”
Oregon finished 24-10 in 2011-12, tied for second place in the Pac-12 with a 13-5 mark, and reached the NIT quarterfinals. UNLV was 26-9 (9-5 Mountain West) and an NCAA Tournament participant. Both Oregon and UNLV are regarded as top-40 teams in the country entering the 2012-13 season by ESPN analyst Dick Vitale.
“Oregon beat us on their home floor a year ago, and this may be the best team UNLV has had since Jerry Tarkanian was there,” Floyd said. “The majority of their team is returning with the exception of [Chace] Stanback, and they have added a fabulous recruiting class.”
Oral Roberts is coming off a 27-7 campaign. The Golden Eagles ran roughshod through the Summit League with a 17-1 mark before being upset in the conference tournament and getting dispatched to the NIT.
“We have a relationship with [ORU head coach] Scott Sutton and [assistant coach] Sean Sutton, as well as their father, Eddie Sutton,” Floyd said. “They have done such a fabulous job at Oral Roberts. We recognize that it will not be an easy game. In fact, the last time we played them, they beat us at USC with a great USC team. They have quality wins every year in the non-conference. They run great motion and play great man-to-man defense just like Eddie’s teams did.”
The Miners will also play their annual home-and-home series with defending Western Athletic Conference champion NM State, and host the Sun Bowl Invitational for the 51st time.
“With exempt tournaments, it is becoming more and more difficult to line up All-Star teams for the Sun Bowl Tournament,” Floyd said. “But we’re going to continue with that tradition and expect to field some quality teams, much like we did last year with Colorado State who ended up in the NCAA Tournament.”
The Old Spice Classic will be staged at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Four of the eight participating teams -- Davidson, Gonzaga, Vanderbilt and West Virginia – all reached the 2012 “Big Dance.”
“We always like to play in an exempt tournament,” Floyd said. “They give us three national-caliber opponents, and typically all the games are played on ESPN. These games can really help you when it comes to NCAA Tournament selection time.”