The season is dwindling down to its final stages and look who is staging a run at the title. Again.
"The Bear" is making his move.The coach who has won more WAC titles than any other, UTEP's Don Haskins, is back. Two weeks ago the Miners were given up for dead along with the rest of the league. But that was two weeks ago. This is now, and suddenly UTEP is tied for first in the WAC with New Mexico.
When the race is close, few want to bet against The Bear. Haskins won or tied for five straight league titles before turning it over to BYU last season. He has six conference championships, the most of any current or previous WAC coach.
"All you have to do is look at his track record and you know he's going to be right there," says BYU assistant coach Roger Reid. "When it comes down to the end his clubs never beat themselves. You have to say, if he's coaching, you can't count them out. The record speaks for itself."
BYU hosts UTEP tonight at 7:30 in the Marriott Center. Then the Miners move on to meet Utah at 3 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.
The Miners' resurgence began after they lost at Albuquerque to New Mexico. The had lost to Hawaii and Wyoming previously and appeared ready to bow out with three league losses. The Lobos had just one loss.
But UTEP surprised everyone by whipping New Mexico 73-60 in El Paso to make up ground and followed with wins over Air Force and Wyoming. Meanwhile, the Lobos lost two more and the race is tied. UTEP is 19-4 overall and 8-3 in WAC play.
Haskins and the Miners will probably be suspicious of BYU. Though the Cougars are having a poor season - they are 10-12 overall and 3-7 in the WAC - they showed there's some life left by stunning Cal-Berkeley Tuesday night in the Marriott Center.
"It's been frustrating," said forward Andy Toolson, who led the Cougars with 32 points. "We've played hard the last couple of games and things just haven't been in synch. Hopefully this will be the reverse of what happened last year."
Last season the Cougars went 6-5 in their final 11 games.
"Our team feels now we can go out and play with UTEP and beat them," said BYU Coach Ladell Andersen.
The Cougars continue to be the No. 1 free throw shooting team in the country. They made 94 percent of their attempts Tuesday night.
UTEP is led by guard Tim Hardaway, who is averaging 21 points a game.