Like many Miner fans, I grew up with a sincere hatred of BYU basketball. I remember the utter shock that swept El Paso after Kevin Nixon hit that shot in the 1992 WAC Tournament Championship. No player was ever more disliked by my dad than Danny Ainge- to the point where I still root against him as a general manager in the NBA. It's probably safe to say that most Mountain West and old WAC teams really enjoyed beating BYU. I'm sure many of those schools consider BYU to be their rival too.
But few of them have as rich a history of pure relentless dislike like BYU and UTEP had in the 1980's and early 1990's. You had the sense that a fan could rush the court with a broken beer bottle at any second. You had the sense that a brawl between players could erupt at any hard foul. It was different. It was special. And, the rivalry defined WAC basketball for a decade as UTEP and BYU both fought like animals for the right to be WAC Champions.
I've played this 4-5 times here, but it's worth playing again.
UTEP has outrebounded five of its last six opponents -- including four straight -- after getting outboarded three times in its first five games of the season. The Miners have a 307-264 edge in defensive rebounds for the year, but have been dominated on the offensive glass (141-83). UTEP opponents are averaging 12.8 offensive rebounds per game, although the Miners have cut that number down to an 8.7 average over thelast three outings.
Remembering last year: Don't forget that Randy Culpepper played perhaps the worst game of his season against BYU. He went 2/15 from the field in BYU's 83-77 win in El Paso. I'd expect Culpepper to thrive in this one, knowing that all the media focus will be on Fredette. This will be a chance for Culpepper to show the country that he's as good as anybody else out there. Yet another reason why I can't wait until tomorrows game.