UTEP vs. East Central Preview: Three Final Things Before Tip-Off
The UTEP men's basketball team (4-0) will hit the hardwood on Wednesday to take on East Central (4-1) at the Don Haskins Center, tipping off at 7 p.m.
We will have the game covered on 600 ESPN El Paso, with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling the action and Steve Yellen with color analysis. MinerTalk will follow the broadcast.
Here are three final things to watch for tonight:
Kaden Archie's UTEP debut
The wait is over, UTEP sophomore transfer guard Kaden Archie will make his debut tonight. And even though the other transfers have been significant additions to the Miners, Archie might come in with the highest ceiling.
He was the No. 3 player in Texas from the class of 2018. He played ball at TCU before transferring to UTEP. His success in high school made him a four-star prospect. He is 6-foot-6. The list goes on and on.
Rumors circulated that Archie could join the program by Arkansas Pine-Bluff (Dec. 7), but the sophomore was granted eligibility earlier than expected.
Archie will probably get upwards of 25 minutes tonight, coming off the bench in relief of Daryl Edwards or Souley Boum. He might look raw but I'm interested to see how he fits on this team. We should expect a fresh debut from Archie, nothing too crazy in terms of scoring. But if he goes on a scoring frenzy, this whole roster could see more of an immediate impact from Archie, rather than being eased in.
Nonetheless, here is yet another massive addition to an already stout UTEP roster.
UTEP is undefeated—justifiably so
Following a significant win against New Mexico (66-63) and a victory over NM State (65-50), the Miners are riding an early unbeaten record that feels pretty significant.
In fact, according to CBS RPI rankings—a quantity used to rank basketball teams based on wins, losses and strength of schedule—UTEP is No. 1 in the country (0.7582). Granted, RPI is now considered out-dated because college basketball has shifted its focus to NET Ranking, which has not yet been released this season.
It is also the first 4-0 start for UTEP since the 2015-16 season. This was the first time UTEP beat both NMSU and New Mexico since 1996.
The Miners are already trending upward in some meaningful stats as well. They have held opponents to shooting just 36.6 percent from the floor (2nd C-USA) and held teams to scoring only 60.0 points against them (3rd C-USA). Forward Bryson Williams is third in C-USA (17th in NCAA) for his 66.7 field goal percentage.
Tonight's matchup should be a swift win for the Miners, but Division II-affiliates East Central show some toughness on the court.
East Central (4-1) enters Wednesday's game off an 81-80 win against Southern Nazarene out of the Great American Conference. They are led by Camron Talley, who is second in Division II for scoring, averaging 25.4 points per game. Head coach Ja Havens has put together three 20-win seasons in his seven years of coaching.
Look ahead: at NMSU (Dec. 3)
If you aren't looking ahead to UTEP's first road game this year in less than a week, you are probably living under a rock.
The Miners, who went winless (0-13) on the road last season, will face NM State in the rematch of the Battle of I-10 next Tuesday at the Pan American Center.
It will be another heated contest for the two squads.
After falling last week to New Mexico (78-77), the Aggies were 2-3 and under .500 for the first time in Chris Jans' tenure with the Aggies. This week, NMSU secured back-to-back wins in the Cayman Islands Classic against Colorado State (78-70) and South Florida (65-45), prompting some momentum for this team. They enter the tournament's title game against George Mason (7-1), tipping off Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
If the Aggies win, they carry a ton of momentum into the Battle of I-10 and would improve their record to 5-3.
Win or lose though, the Aggies will be a tough challenge for the Miners. And Jans still hasn't forgotten the 15-point loss NMSU suffered in their first meeting.