The Ins and Outs of the 2018-19 UTEP Men’s Basketball Schedule
Year one under Rodney Terry has not yet taken a break as the Miners are set to face their share of tough opponents and old foes in the 2018-19 men’s basketball schedule.
Rodney Terry on the schedule:
“We’re excited about announcing our 2018-19 schedule. Coach [Lamont] Smith has done a great job with our scheduling, and considering the timeframe that we had to work with when we started. I feel like our staff has pieced together a very competitive schedule–one that will challenge us is our difficult conference slate. I feel like our conference will be very good from top to bottom. I feel like our non-conference schedule will help us prepare for conference play.”
The Miners will travel to take on non-conference opponents, such as Arizona (Nov. 14), Marquette (Dec. 4), New Mexico (Nov. 24) and NMSU (Nov. 9). They will host teams out of the league, like NMSU (Nov. 28), Northwestern State (Dec. 1) and UC Riverside (Dec. 16).
Marquette finished 21-14 in the 2017-18 season, and ranked in the top-15 offenses and the third-best 3-point shooting team in the country. Arizona is coming off a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they were upset by Buffalo. The last time the two faced off was in 2014, where UTEP put up a well-fought game against the Wildcats, but lost 60-55 in the Don Haskins Center.
“Our philosophy in scheduling a lot of times is we want to try and schedule games in non-conference that help us prepare for conference play,” Terry said. “Playing in a hostile environment on the road will help us when we get a chance to play in a very tough place when conference starts. We’ll be prepared and will be ready to go.”
“When you look at our slate, going to Arizona and playing in a hostile place. You look at a place like going to Marquette, they are a really good shooting team. Marquette’s going to be one of the best shooting teams in the country.”
“[Arizona] is one of the toughest places to play in our region,” Terry said. “We’ve had some great competition against these guys in the past. It’s a good regional game for us and them and I hope we continue to play them.”
Games against Marquette and Arizona are only a year guarantee, and nothing so far for hopes at a potential home-and-home.
NMSU has beaten the Miners seven straight times going into this season and the Aggies are coming off a huge 2017-18 campaign after reaching the NCAA Tournament.
“Obviously they’ve had tremendous amount of success in the past years, that’s another one that prepares us for conference play. We’ll be battle tested; we won’t be afraid when we go to conference play,” Terry said.
“It’s another institution that has a lot of basketball tradition, great history,” he added. “With two storied programs creates a good rivalry—one that we both embrace and understand and understand how important it is.”
UTEP will open their season with an exhibition against New Mexico Highlands (Oct. 30), then officially open the season against UT-Permian Basin (Nov. 6).
The 57th Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, set for Dec. 21-22, will place the Miners in a four-team tournament against Wyoming, East Tennessee State and Norfolk State.
“When you look at how the committee has the Sun Bowl Invitational, you talk about playing two teams like East Tennessee and Wyoming—those are some really well coached teams,” Terry said.
In part of the new C-USA men’s basketball scheduling format, UTEP will play all 13 other teams in the league once and their travel partner (UTSA) twice in the first seven weeks of C-USA’s season. At the end, all teams will be placed in one of three groups, based on conference standings through the first 14 games of C-USA play. The teams will be split into two groups of five (1-5 and 6-10) and one group of four (11-14). And, during the final three weeks, UTEP will play within their respective placement for their last four conference games.
The Miners will open C-USA play on Jan. 3 on the road against UTSA, then turn around quickly and play them at home on Jan. 5. They will play UTSA, North Texas, Rice, Old Dominion, Charlotte, FAU, FIU at home for their C-USA schedule.
“We’re super excited about [Conference USA’s scheduling’]. The direction of our league with Judy MacLeod, what she’s been able to do with her staff and the help of some outside sources to come up with a really good plan for us,” Terry said. “I think it’s something on the cutting edge and outside the box in terms of really trying to be creative. This will give ourselves a chance to be, not only successful in postseason play, but to protect some of the teams that are doing really well throughout the course of a season and into conference play to have a higher seed and maybe along as well, pick up a multi-bid type situation when we have other teams eligible for postseason play. It’s a great idea, great plan and one that we’re excited about because it gives [C-USA] a chance to be a multi-bid league.”
Here is the full schedule: