Miners off to the Bahamas

"We’re always trying to play quality teams...That’s the reason we’re going to the Bahamas, they will be three great tests for us." -Tim Floyd, men’s basketball head coach

UTEP+men%E2%80%99s+basketball+will+face+the+Tennessee+Volunteers+on+Nov.+28+in+the+first+of+three+stiff+games+for+the+Miners+in+the+Battle+4+Atlantis.
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Miners off to the Bahamas

UTEP men’s basketball will face the Tennessee Volunteers on Nov. 28 in the first of three stiff games for the Miners in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

UTEP men’s basketball will face the Tennessee Volunteers on Nov. 28 in the first of three stiff games for the Miners in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Aaron Montes / The Prospector

UTEP men’s basketball will face the Tennessee Volunteers on Nov. 28 in the first of three stiff games for the Miners in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Aaron Montes / The Prospector

Aaron Montes / The Prospector

UTEP men’s basketball will face the Tennessee Volunteers on Nov. 28 in the first of three stiff games for the Miners in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter

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The UTEP men’s basketball team will embark on their biggest non-conference tournament in recent history from Nov. 28-30. The Miners will be heading to Paradise Island, Bahamas to take part in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament.

The Tournament includes college basketball juggernauts like Kansas, Iowa, Wake Forest, Southern California, Villanova, Tennessee and Xavier. Battle 4 Atlantis is one of the biggest tournaments in college basketball for its quality teams and is unrivaled in its monetary value–Battle 4 Atlantis it’s the richest basketball tournament in college basketball.

The Miners will open the tournament on Nov. 28 against Tennessee. So far this season the Volunteers are 3-1, with their only loss coming against Xavier, who is in the tournament as well. Tennessee is led by senior guard Jordan McRae and a strong front court. McRae is leading the team in points per game at 21.5 and shooting 51.9 percent from the field.

“Tennessee got pretty good big guys as well,” said junior guard/forward Julian Washburn. “Playing them is always going to be tough because of how big they are and their guards are pretty solid.”

The guard play of Tennessee will be a huge task for the Miners as they open their tournament. Depending on the Miners’ result against Tennessee, they will either face Xavier or Iowa. The Xavier Musketeers are returning a veteran lineup this year with plenty experience. The Iowa Hawkeyes are very much the same, returning many key players and hoping for a NCAA Tournament bid.

“I think we need to just go out there and play hard defensively and offensively,” said junior guard C.J. Cooper. “Of course we want to win, if we go out there and play hard we can beat anybody.”

Despite the Miners coming off their second loss of the season, once again at the hands of New Mexico State, the Miners wouldn’t have it any other way playing against quality opponents in New Mexico State and Colorado State heading into a tournament of this magnitude.

“You like to win and we’re always trying to play quality teams,” said head coach Tim Floyd. “That’s the reason why we’re going to the Bahamas, that will be three great tests for us no matter who we see. We feel like it’s important that we play against these types of teams, bottom line you need to beat some of them.”

As of now UTEP stands with a 3-2 record, with victories over Loyola New Orleans, West Alabama and Colorado State and two losses against New Mexico State.

Colorado State and two losses against New Mexico State.

“Playing opponents like them (Colorado State and New Mexico State) is exactly what we need for this tournament,” said fifth-year senior guard Justin Crosgile. “It’s a really good and well-known tournament, these were good games to prepare us for what we should expect in the Bahamas. It’s going to be the same level of competition or better.”

The biggest factor going into this tournament is junior guard McKenzie Moore’s status. Moore did not play in the last game against New Mexico State due to a concussion. Floyd was asked after the loss to New Mexico State whether Moore would play in the opening game.

“I don’t know. They tested him yesterday (Nov. 22) and I guess they’ll test him sometime tomorrow (Nov. 24) and we’ll see if he’s going to make the trip to the Bahamas or not,” Floyd said.

The Miners might be coming off a heartbreaking loss to their arch rival New Mexico State, but being positive going into the Bahamas is the sentiment the Miners are trying to keep.

“Always stay positive,” Crosgile said. “We wanted to beat New Mexico State badly, but it’s over with, there’s nothing we can do about it. So we just have to stay positive and move forward and do what we have to do to get this next win.”

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]

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