UTEP Replaces NMSU for Basketball Matchup Against Arizona
The UTEP men's basketball program will serve as a substitute for NM State and face the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday, Dec. 12, in the McKale Center (Tucson, Arizona).
Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. MT and will be televised on the Pac 12 Network, along with the radio broadcast on 600 ESPN El Paso.
The Aggies, who were supposed to play Arizona this Saturday, were forced to cancel their games against Santa Clara and Cal Poly following a positive COVID-19 test and subsequent contact tracing. The team has paused all team activities after the positive case was revealed on Friday night. NMSU is still at the Arizona Grand Resort in Phoenix, where members are living, practicing and participating in virtual classes.
UTEP's original game against Arizona (Nov. 30) was canceled because of a positive COVID-19 case within the program. As a result, the team had to suspend team activities for five days before they prepared for Sul Ross State on Saturday, Dec. 5. Point guard Jamal Bieniemy was the only Miner unavailable for the team over the weekend, but head coach Rodney Terry said that the Oklahoma transfer point guard will be active against Saint Mary's College (Tuesday, Dec. 8).
"Three of probably of the best programs on the west coast," said head coach Rodney Terry when asked about the upcoming stretch. "You're talking about perennial top one-or-two finisher in the West Coast Conference in Saint Mary's. They're right up there with Gonzaga every year.. You talk about Arizona, they're going to have great players every year. Sean's done a great job in his tenure there. We have good history with Arizona, so it's a great game for us. Arizona State—Bobby [Hurley] has done a great job over there with the program, bringing the program to a high level with elite-level talent.
"We got some great challenges ahead. We embrace them, we're excited about them and we'll find out a lot about our team over the next two weeks."
The Wildcats have started the season 2-0 after defeating Grambling (74-55) and Eastern Washington (70-67). Arizona will have two games before the Miners come to Tucson—versus Northern Arizona (Dec. 7) and CSU Bakersfield (Dec. 9).
NM State doesn't have another opponent in their future non-conference schedule as the program continues to try and book more games before league play starts in January. The Miners will go through a tough stretch of opponents on the road—Saint Mary's (Dec. 8), Arizona (Dec. 12) and Arizona State (Dec. 16). No new development has been made about the possible scheduling of UTEP vs. NM State.