Today, UTEP held a press-conference with coach Tim Floyd to confirm the addition of the University of Arizona to the 2012 non-conference basketball slate. The two schools have played a total of 89 times since 1935, but have not faced each other in 17 years. The series is currently set for two games, with the first taking place on November 15, 2012 in Tuscon, and the return game coming in El Paso in the 2014-15 season.
The addition of Arizona further solidifies this slate as the toughest any Miner team has faced, possibly ever. The most games a Miner team has ever faced versus teams in the RPI top 80 in a single season has been 13. This year, that number could be as much as 20, possibly even more.
Coach Tim Floyd said:
"We may not be quite ready to take on this schedule that we are about to announce, but we feel like its important to our fans, and can also prepare us for a Conference USA schedule...We feel like its also important, to elevate our program and make it relevant nationally, that we have to play nationally regarded teams. In addition to that, in thinking long term with everything that we're doing, that this will be attractive to the type of player that we want to recruit here in the years to come."
The full non-conference schedule is still yet to be released, and it is expected for the field of the Sun Bowl Tournament to be announced sometime over the next week or two.
Athletics Director Bob Stull Added:
Per UTEP Athletics Press Release
"Coach Floyd has taken a real aggressive approach to scheduling, and has put together one of the most challenging slates in the country....We have several great teams coming to the Haskins Center this year including UNLV, Oregon, Memphis, and New Mexico State. I know Coach wants to bring back the UTEP gameday excitement he experienced as an assistant coach in the 70's and 80's."
Needless to say, Coach Floyd is quickly reviving that enthusiasm and excitement that surrounded the basketball program in the heyday of the great Don Haskins. This schedule only adds more fuel to that fire. It'll be a great year in UTEP basketball, and hopefully that will only continue for years to come.