The UTEP men’s basketball team is off to a terrific start this season.
The Miners have won their first four games at home, including against New Mexico State and New Mexico.
The win over the Aggies broke UTEP’s nine-game losing streak while their victory over the Lobos was their first over their longtime former WAC rival since December 2017.
The team recently received more good news when it learned that Kaden Archie was declared immediately eligible for the 2019-20 season. The transfer from TCU was one of the top high school players in Texas two years ago and he has been practicing with the team since he arrived in El Paso in January.
He was supposed to be eligible at the semester break but that date was moved up by three weeks thanks to an NCAA waiver. Archie played in 10 games last season for TCU and he will be a sophomore for the Miners. He adds terrific size at 6-foot-6 to the guard position and he will join a rotation that gives head coach Rodney Terry 10 players he can mix and match during the season.
UTEP’s schedule gets more challenging when the team plays its first road game in Las Cruces against I-10 rivals NMSU on Dec. 3.
The Miners defeated the Aggies by 15 points a few weeks ago at the Don Haskins Center, and NMSU is currently without a pair of senior guards who are expected to be a be a big part of the rotation for head coach Chris Jans.
NMSU lost its Battle of I-25 to the Lobos on Nov. 21 by just one point despite leading for much of the game. You can bet that the Aggies will be a tougher test for UTEP when they face off again on Dec. 3.
After the trip to Las Cruces, UTEP will play at Houston on Dec. 19 and then travel to Hawaii to meet the Rainbow Warriors three days later in their first game of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
The Miners will then play either Washington or Ball State. Following the tournament in Hawaii, UTEP will have the remainder of 2019 to prepare for the start of Conference USA play, which gets underway at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 2 in Miami against Florida International.
Every Miners fan you talk to is super excited for this basketball season. Some are wondering when UTEP will start receiving votes in the Top 25, especially because the Lobos have already been receiving votes in the Associated Press poll.
I think if UTEP is able to sweep the Battle of I-10 on Dec. 3 and then beat Houston on the road, the Miners will get Top 25 consideration. Regardless, it is going to be a fun season for UTEP and their fan base, which has been waiting years for this kind of excitement on the court.
Since 1997, Steve Kaplowitz has hosted “Sportstalk” from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays on 600 ESPN El Paso. You can email him at email@example.com.