UTEP looks to defend Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational crown with Bradley, NC Central, Sam Houston in town

UTEP

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – One of the longest-standing college basketball tournaments will be renewed this week, as the 60th Annual WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational is set for tip-off on Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 21-22, inside the Don Haskins Center. The tournament was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UTEP, the host school, will open play against North Carolina Central on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Head coach Joe Golding will lead the Miners in his first Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational appearance, but knows full well the history and tradition this tournament carries.

“There was a time with this tournament where it was at its peak. I think it was one of the best college basketball tournaments in the country,” said Golding. “In today’s era, there are a ton of tournaments in the Bahamas, Hawaii and everywhere else. But we want to, again, make this one of the most prestigious basketball tournaments in the country.”

Joining UTEP in this year’s tournament field is Bradley, NC Central and Sam Houston. All three head coaches are embracing not only the history and tradition of this event, but the history associated with Miners basketball and their 1966 national championship team with the first all-black starting five in a title game.

“I just think it’s important that those five young men of Glory Road and Coach Haskins — giving them an opportunity — opened the door for them in order for them to be where they are today,” said NC Central head coach LeVelle Moton.

“You start talking about the historic nature of this event, this university, and what it meant to the dynamic of college basketball,” said Bradley head coach Brian Wardle.

“I think these types of things are what my guys hear from me on a daily basis. When we come to a place like this, they have no choice but to hear the tradition and the history,” added Sam Houston head coach Jason Hooten.

UTEP will look to defend their crown as tournament champions after defeating North Carolina A&T in the first round, followed by a win over UC Irvine in the 2019 championship game. The Miners have won the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational 32 times and is 88-28 overall in the tournament dating back to 1961.

“I think anytime you’re playing for a trophy, you want to compete and you want to lift a trophy,” said Golding. “We take a lot of pride in hosting this tournament. If you are playing for a championship, you want to win a championship, and I think all four teams want to lift a trophy on Wednesday night.”

Participants
UTEP, Bradley, North Carolina Central, Sam Houston 

Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021
5 p.m. – Bradley vs. Sam Houston
7 p.m. – North Carolina Central vs. UTEP
@ Don Haskins Center

Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021
5 p.m. – Consolation Game (loser of game one vs. loser of game two)
7 p.m. – Championship Game (winner of game one vs. winner of game two)
@ Don Haskins Center

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