EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – For the first time in over 60 years, both UTEP and New Mexico State will play in the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.

The tournament tips off on Wednesday night in El Paso at the Don Haskins Center, with the Aggies (6-4) battling Kent State (8-3) at 5:30 p.m. and the Miners (7-3) playing North Carolina A&T (5-6) at 7:30 p.m.

UTEP has won its hometown tournament 32 times in 61 years; NMSU is playing this year for the first time since 1961. The Miners have won it just once since 2014, beating UC Irvine for the 2019 championship.

“That’s not acceptable when you’re UTEP. If we’re going to get this program back to where it’s supposed to be, we have to start winning tournaments like this,” said UTEP head coach Joe Golding.

As for the Aggies, they get the tougher first round draw in Kent State. The Golden Flashes are ranked in the top-35 in the country in the NCAA’s NET Rankings and have narrow defeats at the hands of Gonzaga and Houston.

NMSU’s season has been filled with turmoil, but they still have as much talent as any mid-major in the country. If they play up to their capabilities, the Aggies could get a big win over Kent State.

“It’s a Quad-1 opponent,” Heiar said. “They’re just really tough and physical. It’s a great game, the type of game you look forward to playing before going into conference play.”

The last time UTEP won the tournament in 2019, both Kent State and NC A&T were a part of the field, much like they are this year. The Miners and Aggies are hoping to play each other in the championship game on Thursday, but first they have to get past their tough first round opponents on Wednesday.