The return of the New Mexico Lobos to the Don Haskins Center, a matchup with Washington State in “The Bear’s Den” and participation in the preseason Puerto Rico Tip-Off highlight the 2017-18 UTEP men’s basketball schedule, released on Wednesday.
“Our home schedule has been upgraded with Washington State and the Lobos, who have been our biggest rivals for nearly 90 years,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said. “The series makes sense, and I applaud the administration at New Mexico for recognizing that. We like the multi-team event in Puerto Rico because of the quality of the opponents, including a potential matchup with 2017 Final Four participant South Carolina. The WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational has an NCAA Tournament team from a year ago in North Carolina Wilmington. We always try to schedule teams that will prepare us well for a strong conference slate.”
The Miners, who return four starters and five of their top six scorers from last year’s squad that tied for third place in Conference USA with a 12-6 mark, will tip-off the campaign with the annual Orange & White Scrimmage on Oct. 21 at the Haskins Center. Following a pair of exhibitions versus Sul Ross State (Oct. 28) and Western New Mexico (Nov. 3), the regular season will get underway in El Paso against Louisiana College on Nov. 10.
The Miners will join Appalachian State, Boise State, Illinois State, Iowa State, South Carolina, Tulsa and Western Michigan in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, with games scheduled for Nov. 16, 17 and 19 at the Tomás Dones Coliseum in Fajardo, P.R. Iowa State joined South Carolina in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, while Boise State and Illinois State appeared in the NIT.
The Miners will lock up with I-10 rival NM State twice in six days, beginning on Nov. 25 in Las Cruces.
UTEP will begin a stretch of nine consecutive home games against Lamar, a 19-game winner and CollegeInsider.com Tournament entry last season, on Nov. 27. The Miners will play back-to-back rivalry games in the Haskins Center against NM State (Nov. 30) and New Mexico (Dec. 2), prior to completing a four-game series with the Cougars out of the Pac-12 Conference on Dec. 9.
New Mexico will be making its first appearance in the Don Haskins Center since January 2, 2008.
After a 10-day break for finals, UTEP will host Incarnate Word (Dec. 19) prior to battling Howard (Dec. 21) in the first round of the 56th annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational. The Miners will meet either North Carolina Wilmington (29 wins/NCAA Tournament in ’16-17) or North Dakota State (19 wins in ’16-17) on day two of the tourney Dec. 22.
The Miners will be home for the entire month of December for the first time since 2012, and only the second time since 2005.
The 18-game Conference USA schedule tips off at home versus North Texas on Dec. 28, the earliest date of a league opener since 2001. It marks only the second time in the modern era (since 1965) that the Miners will launch conference play prior to the new year.
“There are always challenging games both home and on the road in conference play,” Floyd said. “Because there are 14 teams, it’s hard to tell who the frontrunners will be. There are teams coming to our place that have always presented problems. And we have three very difficult road trips against teams that we have struggled against away from home.”
The Miners will face all three C-USA Texas schools – North Texas, Rice, UTSA – twice each for only the second time in four years. The Miners will also play LA Tech and Southern Miss twice. Single games are scheduled versus Charlotte (away), FIU (home), Florida Atlantic (home), Marshall (home), Middle Tennessee (away), Old Dominion (away), UAB (away) and WKU (home).
UTEP will have a three-game C-USA road swing Jan. 20-27 (at UTSA, at UAB, at Middle Tennessee), followed by a three-game homestand Feb. 1-10 (WKU, Marshall, UTSA). The Miners will start and end their league slate against North Texas and Rice. The Mean Green and the Owls will serve as UTEP’s first two league opponents for the third time in four years.
The Conference USA Championship is slated for March 7-10 at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
UTEP Basketball season tickets, starting at $160, are on sale now by calling (915) 747-6150.
2017-18 UTEP Men’s Basketball Schedule
Oct. 21 Orange & White Scrimmage
Oct. 28 Sul Ross State (EXB)
Nov. 3 Western New Mexico (EXB)
Nov. 10 Louisiana College
Nov. 16 vs. TBA+
Nov. 17 vs. TBA+
Nov. 19 vs. TBA+
Nov. 25 at NM State
Nov. 27 Lamar
Nov. 30 NM State
Dec. 2 New Mexico
Dec. 9 Washington State
Dec. 19 Incarnate Word
Dec. 21 Howard#
Dec. 22 North Carolina Wilmington/North Dakota State#
Dec. 28 North Texas*
Dec. 30 Rice*
Jan. 4 at Southern Miss*
Jan. 6 at LA Tech*
Jan. 11 Florida Atlantic*
Jan. 13 FIU*
Jan. 20 at UTSA*
Jan. 25 at UAB*
Jan. 27 at Middle Tennessee*
Feb. 1 WKU*
Feb. 3 Marshall*
Feb. 10 UTSA*
Feb. 15 at Charlotte*
Feb. 17 at Old Dominion*
Feb. 22 LA Tech*
Feb. 24 Southern Miss*
March 1 at Rice*
March 3 at North Texas*
March 7-10 at Conference USA Championship^
+ Puerto Rico Tip-Off
# WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational
* Conference USA game
^ Frisco, Texas