The last time the Utah basketball team played a postseason game beyond the Mountain West Conference Tournament, the Utes were matched up with UTEP in the first round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament.
The Utes won that game and they're hoping for a similar result when they take on the Miners Wednesday night in El Paso, in the first round of the inaugural College Basketball Invitational.
Utah and UTEP renew their longtime rivalry with a 7 p.m. game at the Don Haskins Center. It will not be one of the two CBI games televised that night.
"It's kind of neat to have an old rivalry heated up again," said Utah coach Jim Boylen.
Long before Boylen came to Utah, the Utes and Miners used to play each other twice a year as members of the Western Athletic Conference from 1970 to 1999. Utah leads the all-time series 34-31 with an 11-20 record in El Paso. In their last game there, the Utes defeated the Miners 64-54 behind Andre Miller in January of 1999.
After giving his team Saturday off to enjoy a little time in Las Vegas, Boylen put his players back to work on Sunday with an evening practice. They also practiced Monday afternoon and watched film in the evening.
"My guys have practiced hard, and we're excited about the opportunity to play," Boylen said. "We're trying to make the most of the opportunity.
In UTEP, the Utes will be playing a team that finished 19-13 and in a tie for sixth in Conference USA at 9-9. The Utes also finished sixth in their conference and are 17-14 on the season.
The Miners are led by guard Stefon Jackson, who ranks seventh in the nation in scoring at 23.7 points a game.The winner of Wednesday's game will play the winner of Tulsa-Miami (Ohio) game on Monday. The semifinals will be March 26, with a three-game series between the two finalists the following week.
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