POSTED: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 12:44pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 5:37pm
The most rigorous schedule in UTEP basketball history is set, with the Miners playing as many as 17 games versus teams that ended last season ranked in the top-80 of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI).
“Our fans wanted a great schedule and they’ve got it,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “We did this because we want to get this place back to where it was. We wanted a strong RPI in the event that we didn’t finish first in our league.”
Following an exhibition game against Southeast Oklahoma State (Nov. 3), the Miners will get thrown into the fire immediately. They’ll tip off the regular season at home against an Oral Roberts squad that won 27 games last season (Nov. 9). Then they’ll take on Arizona in Tucson (Nov. 15) before joining a power-packed field at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando (Nov. 22-25). UTEP has drawn Oklahoma on day one of the event.
“When you look at [Oklahoma coach] Lon Kruger, every time he has taken over a rebuilding program there have been prominent gains in the second year,” Floyd said. “I don’t expect to see anything different here. They’re in the Big 12 recruiting Big 12 level athletes, and it will be an extreme test.”
The Miners will battle either Clemson or Gonzaga on the tournament’s second day (Nov. 23) and meet Davidson, Marist, Vanderbilt or West Virginia in the tournament finale on Nov. 25. They’ll return home to tangle with I-10 rival and 2012 NCAA Tournament participant NM State three days later.
And that’s just in the month of November.
December is equally as challenging, with home games against Idaho (Dec. 8), UNLV (Dec. 17) and Oregon (Dec. 19) leading up to the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational (Dec. 22-23), where the Miners will hook up with Arkansas-Pine Bluff and another Big 12 representative, Nebraska.
UTEP will avoid a lengthy holiday break by playing a second exhibition versus Cameron on Dec. 28. The Miners will have an unprecedented three non-conference games in 2013, facing Colorado State (Jan. 5) and NM State (Feb. 23) on the road and Houston Baptist (Jan. 14) at home.
Four of UTEP’s first six Conference USA games are away from home, including the opener at Tulane (Jan. 9). The Miners will host Marshall on Jan. 12, SMU on Jan. 19, Tulane on Feb. 2, Rice on Feb. 6, Tulsa on Feb. 9, UCF on Feb. 16, Houston on Feb. 27 and Memphis on March 6. Following the regular season finale at SMU (March 9), UTEP will participate in the Conference USA Championship March 13-16 in Tulsa.
It promises to be a thrilling ride for a team that returns seven letterwinners from last year and introduces a highly-regarded group of incoming recruits.
“It’s probably premature to play a schedule of this magnitude given the youth of our team, but we’re trying to think big picture with everything we’ve done,” Floyd said. “That’s why we’ve recruited freshmen and that’s why we’re playing this type of schedule, because we want to play nationally relevant games.”
Season tickets are on sale now (915-747-6150). Upper reserved prices have been reduced from $195 to $160. Other price levels are as follows: family pack (two adults/two youth ages 3-12) $540; copper reserved $335; bronze reserved $535; silver reserved $635; gold reserved $735; floor $1,410 and $1,510. Tickets are also available via www.utepathletics.com .
2012-13 UTEP Men’s Basketball Schedule
Nov. 3 Southeast Oklahoma State (Exhibition)
Nov. 9 Oral Roberts
Nov. 15 at Arizona
Nov. 22 vs. Oklahoma^
Nov. 23 vs. Clemson/Gonzaga^
Nov. 25 vs. TBA^
Nov. 28 NM State
Dec. 8 Idaho
Dec 17 UNLV
Dec. 19 Oregon
Dec. 22 Arkansas-Pine Bluff+
Dec. 23 Central Mich./Nebraska+
Dec. 28 Cameron (Exhibition)
Jan. 5 at Colorado State
Jan. 9 at Tulane*
Jan. 12 Marshall*
Jan. 14 Houston Baptist
Jan. 16 at Tulsa*
Jan. 19 SMU*
Jan. 26 at East Carolina*
Jan. 30 at UAB*
Feb. 2 Tulane*
Feb. 6 Rice*
Feb. 9 Tulsa*
Feb. 13 at Houston*
Feb. 16 UCF*
Feb. 20 at Southern Miss*
Feb. 23 at NM State
Feb. 27 Houston*
March 2 at Rice*
March 6 Memphis*
March 9 at SMU*
March 13-16 at Conference USA Tournament#
^ Old Spice Classic (Orlando, Fla.)
+ WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational (El Paso, Texas)
* Conference USA game
# Tulsa, Okla.
All dates subject to change