Wildcats to begin UTEP hoop series

2012-06-06T12:35:00Z 2012-06-06T15:01:52Z Wildcats to begin UTEP hoop seriesBy Bruce Pascoe, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Tim Floyd will have a chance to make yet another impact on the Arizona Wildcats basketball program when his UTEP team begins a home-and-home series with UA on Nov. 15 at McKale Center next season.

Floyd used to bring USC teams into McKale and, as you probably recall, was sought after by then-UA athletic director Jim Livengood to permanently replace Lute Olson in the spring of 2009 but decided not to take the job.

That led to Livengood's decision to keep after and eventually hire Sean Miller -- and Floyd's sudden resignation at USC later that spring in the wake of NCAA issues allowed the Wildcats to scoop up would-be Trojan players Derrick Williams and MoMo Jones. (USC commit Solomon Hill re-committed to UA after Miller was signed in April 2009).

For Miller, the series is another intriguing regional home-and-home addition after the Wildcats finished up a two-way series last season with New Mexico State -- a team that might scare off some high-major teams from traveling to.

The series won't return to El Paso until 2014-15, however, because the Wildcats will be finishing up their home-and-home series with San Diego State in 2013-14; UA has postponed a return game to San Diego next season because both programs are playing in the Diamond Head Classic.

"It was kind of a unique situation because we needed a home game and then to return the game (in 2014-15)," said Ryan Reynolds, UA's director of basketball operations. "We were trying to get a Top 100-125 team that was in our region and there's not a ton of those."

UTEP finished last season with an RPI of 146 but is expected to improve that number under Floyd in upcoming seasons.

Not only did the series come about because UTEP fit the schedule, and because of Miller's relationship with Floyd, but Floyd also has a longtime relationship with UA assistant coach Joe Pasternack from Floyd's days at the University of New Orleans, where Pasternack was the head coach before joining UA a year ago.

There is only one game remaining to be set on UA's nonconference schedule next season, a home-and-home series that Reynolds said will likely be against a BCS conference team and will start on the road.

As of now, here's how the nonconference schedule looks:

Home games in CAPITALS. Times and TV coverage TBA.

Oct. 21 RED-BLUE GAME (scrimmage)

Oct. 31 HUMBOLDT STATE (exhibition)

Nov. 6 CHICO STATE (exhibition)

Nov. 11 CHARLESTON SOUTHERN

Nov. 15 UTEP

Nov. 19 LONG BEACH STATE

Nov. 28 NAU

Dec. 4. SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI

Dec. 8 at Clemson

Dec. 15 FLORIDA

Dec. 18 ORAL ROBERTS

Dec. 22-25 Diamond Head Classic, at Honolulu

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