The Dig: Rice Basketball Falling Apart Edition

March 03, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Rice Owls forward Arsalan Kazemi (14) reacts after the Houston Cougars defeated the Owls 76-75 at Tudor Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

There's a ton going around UTEP and Conference USA right now, so I figured, rather than continue to FanShot stuff, it's time for "The Dig". Here is all the news I could dig up from around UTEP, Conference USA, and the rest of the country.

AROUND MINER NATION

UTEP, Texas Tech To Face Off In 14'-15'

FBschedules.com reported yesterday that UTEP and Texas Tech University have reached an agreement to play a football home and home series beginning in the 2014 season. Dates for the games have not been set yet, but here's what Tech coach Tommy Tuberville had to say:

"We were just trying to get our program where we want it before we start taking on some (tougher non-conference opponents)," Tuberville said. "Now that you’ve got three non-conference games, you want to make sure you’re ready and willing to step out there and play somebody on the road like that."

Miners Continue to Build 2013 Basketball Class

After hearing that 2012 commit Anthony January had recommitted to playing for the Miners only days ago, the program has now added a couple more recruits to the 2013 class since then. As far as Anthony January goes, he has announced via his twitter that he will be in El Paso in mid December.

Sunday, 6'3 shooting guard out of Pasadena, CA, Andre Spight, announced via his twitter that he had verbally committed to play for the Miners.

Then another commit that went under the radar was 6'6 small forward Jake Flaggert out of Lovejoy, TX. He announced via his twitter on Saturday that he had committed to UTEP.

With the three commitments, and assuming all make it to El Paso, the Miners are now out of scholarships for the 2013 season. Seniors Jacques Streeter, Malcolm Moore, and Konner Tucker will all open up a scholarship at the end of the 2012-13 season, and the three incoming players with fill those spots.

Lamaison Named C-USA Offensive Player of Week

After completing 66% of his passes for 300 yards, 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions in Saturday's win over New Mexico State, UTEP quarterback Nick Lamaison was named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week Monday. This is the first time Nick has receiver the honor, and second time this season a UTEP player has received it (Nathan Jeffery).

UTEP vs. Wisconsin to be aired on ESPN2

Miner fans, don't forget that the UTEP game at Wisconsin will be aired on ESPN2 beginning at 10:00 a.m. MT. I realize that many of you will probably be out Friday night, but be sure to check out your Miners on national T.V. As always, we'll be here at MinerRush, bringing you live coverage of the game, and giving you the open GameThread so you can get your comments in. Join us!

Cross Country Athletes Earn Athlete of Week Awards

For the second straight week, UTEP cross country athletes Anthony Rotich, and Risper Kimaiyo have been named the Conference USA Athletes of the Week.

Here is the release, courtesy of UTEP Athletics:

"Anthony Rotich and Risper Kimaiyo earn Conference USA Athlete of the Week honors for second straight week.

Rotich claimed his second consecutive crown of the season at the Kachina Classic. The freshman clocked in a time of 24:15 in the men's 8K race. Rotich led the men's team to a first place finish with 29 points as the Miners defeated I-10 rival NM State for the second straight week.

Kimaiyo earned her fourth consecutive meet title at the Kachina Classic in Las Cruces, N.M. The All-American was the first Miner to cross the finish line with a season-best time of 17:18 in the women's 5K race. This is seniors' 13th career athlete of the week honor.

The Miners will have a week to prepare for the Cowboy Jamboree on Sept. 29 in Stillwater, Okla."

AROUND CONFERENCE USA

Rice PF Arsalan Kazemi to Transfer

In what is perhaps the biggest news of the week in Conference USA, Rice star forward Arsalan Kazemi has decided to transfer, and intends to play for a power 6 school. His list of possibilities includes Kentucky, Texas, Ohio State, Florida, Cincinatti, and Oregon.

The move comes as a huge surprise to most, but maybe shouldn't have been so unexpected after all? Since season's end, Rice has now lost 6 players from last year's squad. Here's a writeup from Yahoo! sports talking about the issues at Rice.

"Five players transferred to other schools this offseason and a sixth left early to pursue a pro career in his home country in Lebanon. The latest to leave is Iranian forward Arsalan Kazemi, a second-team all-Conference USA selection last season who announced Monday he intends to transfer to a high-major program for his senior season after averaging a double-double as a junior.

The exodus leaves Rice with a threadbare roster featuring only two rotation players from last year's breakout season. Senior Tamir Jackson reaffirmed his commitment to Rice on Twitter on Monday night, but even the return of a starting combo guard still leaves the team with only one player who produced more than 3.7 points a game last season."

Old Dominion Asking C-USA For Help With Schedule in 14'

Due to issues with its conference affiliation, Old Dominion University is asking Conference USA to help them out by filling 8 open slots with games against C-USA schools in 2014. Seven schools currently have open dates in 2014, including our Miners.

The list of schools that currently have open dates includes East Carolina, Marshall, North Texas, Rice, Southern Mississippi, Tulsa, and UTEP. Here are some words on the writeup from hamptonroads.com, and a link to the article.

"Nearly all of ODU sports teams, including men's and women's basketball, leave the Colonial Athletic Association and join C-USA on July 1. However, NCAA rules require the football team to play two transition seasons before it becomes a conference member in 2015.

ODU plays next season as an independent in the Football Championship Subdivision. In 2014, it remains an independent, but moves to the Football Bowl Subdivision - in the same NCAA classification with Virginia and Virginia Tech.

ODU has just one game scheduled in 2014 - at UNC Charlotte, which also joins C-USA in 2015.

ODU will play a mixed schedule next season that will include six or eight FCS teams. However, in 2014, NCAA rules require that ODU play largely an FBS schedule."

AROUND THE NATION

For the second week in a row, an SEC player has been suspended for a hit on a Conference USA player. This week, South Carolina free safety D.J. Swearinger received a one game ban for launching and leading with his head on this hit against UAB receiver Patrick Hearn:

The hit did draw a personal foul penalty in game, but apparently the SEC still felt that a suspension was necessary.

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