Over the last four weeks, the most incredible thing has happened at UTEP. The Miners men's basketball team lost three of their four scholarship guards, and have won seven of their last eight games. The latest triumph came last night, when they defeated preseason C-USA favorite Louisiana Tech 89-79. Despite being undermanned, this UTEP team has played some of its most inspired basketball that fans have seen in the last few years. Senior John Bohannon has stepped up his game and his leadership on and off the court. Freshman Vince Hunter is a star-in-the-making and his game continues to get better every night. C.J. Cooper and Julian Washburn have both been great for the Miners, who are now 15-6 overall and 5-1 in C-USA play. That's why UTEP head coach Tim Floyd asked the fans for a sellout crowd tomorrow night when his team hosts Rice.

“Our crowd [Thursday] was phenomenal and I want them to spread the word. I’d like to have a sellout in here on Saturday,” he said. “I just think these kids deserve it and we’re playing at that kind of level. We’re in first right now and I’d like to see our people respond and pack this place in. I think we really deserve it based on effort. I’ve never asked people to come out. I think you’ve got to earn these things. But I think these kids are earning it as we move along.”

The Miners have not sold out a basketball game at the Don Haskins Center since the first ever Tim Floyd regular season contest against Pacific on November 12th, 2010. The Miners were coming off of an NCAA Tournament trip the season before, but UTEP lost that game 66-61. Coach Floyd's team was close to a a sellout against Memphis in the C-USA Tournament Championship (11,769). In the four years and 68 games played at home in the Tim Floyd coaching era, the team has averaged 8,053 fans at the DHC. Most universities would be happy with 75% capacity for home games. However, the bar will always be set much higher at UTEP, a school with a National Championship and more basketball tradition than any other sport in their athletics program. I agree with Coach Floyd about a sellout crowd tomorrow night. They deserve it, and the community needs to do their part to come out and watch one of the great turnaround stories of the college basketball season.

Steve Kaplowitz

As added incentive, the price of adult tickets in the copper reserved section has been reduced to $12 (ordinarily $18) for this game. The copper ticket special is in effect on game day only. A concession special is also available on Saturday. Fans can purchase a hot dog, small coke and small popcorn for just $5 while supplies last. In addition, 2,000 UTEP basketball backpacks will be given away at the game courtesy of One Source Federal Credit Union. Tickets for Saturday’s game start at just $8 and are available now by calling 747-5234.