EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – Coming off a sweep of Southern Miss to open Conference USA action, things all of a sudden get a lot more difficult for the UTEP women.
The Miners (5-2, 2-0 C-USA) travel to Houston for a pair of games against C-USA juggernaut Rice (6-1, 2-0 C-USA) on Friday and Saturday, looking to pull an upset against the Owls. However, that will be easier said than down.
Rice has been one of the top teams in the league over the last few seasons, going 16-2 in C-USA action in 2019-20. While they were pegged to finish second in the league’s preseason poll this year, the Owls have been just as formidable. Their one loss came by just four points to then-10th ranked Texas A&M.
“Rice is one of the best teams in the country. They are extremely well-coached and talented. They will be a tough challenge for us,” said UTEP head coach Kevin Baker. “We hope to use these two games as a measuring stick to see where we are in C-USA play. We feel we can compete with anyone in our conference and this game will show us just how close we are to getting in the top four in league play.”
The Owls have won 37 of their last 39 conference contests dating back to 2018. UTEP played Rice tough once last season in a 69-61 loss at home and the Miners are hoping for a similar performance in both games this weekend.
“We have no pressure on us and I hope that will allow us to play well. We know that we will have to step up our level of play on the road,” Baker said. “We feel like we have been practicing well this week and will be ready for the task at hand. As a coach, you love these kinds of games. I am excited to see our young team battle one of the better teams in college basketball this season.”
UTEP completed a series sweep over Southern Miss at home last weekend to open Conference USA play. The Miners have the opportunity to start Conference USA play 3-0 for the second straight season.
Tip-off for both games this weekend at Rice are at noon Mountain time. Friday’s game will be streamed on C-USA TV, while Saturday’s contest will be on ESPN+.