The UTEP Miners (1-0) face off against the 12th ranked Arizona Wildcats (1-0) in a non-conference matchup Thursday at the McKale Center in Tucson, AZ. Tipoff is slated for 10:00 p.m. ET, and the game will be carried nationally by Fox Sports.
The Miners come into the contest off a 69-49 victory over Oral Roberts. They started slow in that contest, only holding a 3 point lead at the half. But, they turned up the defensive intensity in the second half, used a 26-5 run to blow the game open, and raced away with the victory.
The Wildcats enter the contest off an 82-73 season opening victory over the Charleston Southern Buccaneers. The Bucs were able to keep the game fairly close throughout, and were down only 2 at multiple points in the second half, and by as little as 5 with under 5 minutes to play. However, the Wildcats were able to open up the lead in the closing minutes to secure the victory.
There's no question that this will be a huge test for the Miners. They are certainly talented enough to make a game of this, and possibly even come away with an upset. On the other hand, they're young enough to struggle on the road in a big time environment.
No matter what the outcome of the game is though, this is exactly what Coach Floyd and his staff wanted for this team. While Floyd certainly expects his players to compete with high intensity for 40 minutes, its the experience, more than the result that he'll be concerned with.
That experience will pay dividends in the long run, especially once the conference slate approaches. Still though, it's early November, and it's college basketball, where anything can happen. Should be an interesting one at the McKale Center.