EL PASO, TEXAS – The UTEP men’s basketball team will make its first postseason tournament appearance in three years when it hosts old WAC rival Fresno State to tip-off the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) on Wednesday, March 19 at 7 p.m. in the Don Haskins Center.


“Given that we have everybody back with the exception of one scholarship player [John Bohannon] next season, this gives us an opportunity to conduct a few more practices and play a few more games which can only help and not hurt,” UTEP coach Tim Floyd said.  “We have a group that likes playing basketball, that loves to compete, and a fan base that appears to have gotten very close to this team based on how they responded throughout our conference season with the size of the crowds and the level of interest.  We’re excited to have the opportunity to continue to play.”


The winner will face either Princeton (20-8, 8-6 Ivy League) or Tulane (17-16, 8-8 C-USA) in the tournament quarterfinals on Monday, March 24 at a to-be-determined site.


Fresno State is 17-16 overall and went 9-9 in the Mountain West Conference to tie for fifth place.  The Bulldogs lost to New Mexico, 93-77, in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Tournament.  Fresno State has won nine of its last 12 games.


The Bulldogs have three players averaging double figures in scoring – senior guard Tyler Johnson (16.5 ppg), sophomore guard Marvelle Harris (14.9 ppg) and sophomore guard Cezar Guerrero (12.8 ppg).  The Bulldogs also have the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year in forward/guard Paul Watson (9.8 ppg).  Fresno State is coached by former University of Texas assistant and Lone Star State native Rodney Terry.


“They are in a good league and they have their share of wins in that league,” Floyd said.  “We are in the process of gathering information on them right now and will have a lot more to say tomorrow.”


UTEP (23-10) enters the CBI having won 18 of its last 23 games after starting the season 5-5.  The Miners went 12-4 in Conference USA – their second-most victories since joining the league – and finished a game behind co-leaders Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, Southern Miss and Tulsa.  UTEP leads Conference USA in both field goal percentage (.468) and field goal percentage defense (.381).  The defensive field goal percentage is the Miners’ best since the 1963-64 season.  UTEP is led by 1,000-point scorers John Bohannon and Julian Washburn, and Conference USA Freshman of the Year Vince Hunter.

Other teams participating in this year’s CBI are Hampton, Illinois State, Morehead State, Old Dominion, Oregon State, Penn State, Radford, Siena, South Dakota State, Stony Brook, Texas A&M and Wyoming.

The CBI is a 16-team, single-elimination tournament, up until the Championship Series, with all games being played at campus sites of the higher seed.  The Championship Series will be a “best of three” series.


The tournament is produced by The Gazelle Group.


Tickets will go on sale Monday at 10 a.m. at the University Ticket Center, located at the corner of Mesa Street and Glory Road, or by calling (915) 747-5234.  The ticket center closes at 6 p.m. daily.

Floor seats are $30.  UTEP season ticket holders will have first right of refusal on floor seats.  All other seats are $10 general admission.  UTEP students gain free entry by showing a valid I.D.

This will be UTEP’s third CBI appearance.  The Miners also played in the tournament in 2008 and 2009 and reached the ’09 finals before falling to Oregon State in three games.