In the midst of their longest roadtrip since the 1987-88 season, the UTEP Women's basketball team is in the "Crescent City" of New Orleans preparing for a two-game tournament versus Samford on Thursday and either Troy or Tulane on Friday.  The 9-game road swing began on December 2 and will span over five and a half weeks until January 11, 2018.

The Miners arrived here in Nola on Monday for the 22nd annual Tulane Classic from Myrtle Beach, SC after an impressive 93-79 overtime victory over former C-USA foe East Carolina in the Carolinas Challenge on December 17.  Six different players reached double figures in scoring and UTEP connected on a school-record 42 free throws en route to the win.  At 6-3 the Miners are off to a remarkable start under first year coach Kevin Baker.  The squad is two wins shy of their season total of eight last year.

The team has responded well to Baker and his staff, and in talking to many of the players, absolutely loves his system.  The assistant coaches bring a tremendous amount of experience to the program as well, and are quite active during practice, which the girls seem rather grateful for.  In fact, Baker recently became only the second coach in program history to win his first four games at the helm, the other was Carol Ammermann in the 1974-75 season.

The Miners have already defeated the likes of CSU Bakersfield, ECU and Arkansas, which marked the first time in program history that they knocked off an SEC opponent.  This upcoming tournament here in New Orleans will certainly represent a challenge for various reasons.  Samford has won three straight games, played a brutal non-conference schedule and has never faced UTEP, hence making them an intriguing squad to say the least.  On Friday, the Miners will either face Troy or Tulane, depending on the outcomes from Thursday's games.

They have never faced Troy either, and are 11-8 all time against Tulane, former C-USA members.  Without question, this is a team loaded with talent and this challenging non-conference schedule and long road stretch will be perfect for preparing them for conference play next month.  You can listen to all UTEP Women's basketball games on 600 ESPN El Paso, Thursday's game with Samford at 4pm MST and Friday's game with either Troy or Tulane at 12 or 2pm with the Iceman on both calls.