EL PASO, Texas - The vibe is certainly positive as the UTEP Miners are headed to Birmingham, Alabama for the Conference USA Tournament as the 4th seed coupled with a first round bye.
"We are excited and I think the guys are confident, and we are healthy, and that certainly helps," UTEP Head Coach Tim Floyd said.
The Miners turned their season around from a 2-13 record to an impressive 12-6 conference record and a legitimate shot at making the NCAA tournament.
Omega Harris who was named to third team All-Conference USA, said now is the time to turn up the intensity like never before.
"Everybody is going to turn it up another level and we have to turn it up too," Harris said. "It's the conference tournament, and its just, all the marbles on the table, win or go home right now."
The Miners (14-16) will face either fifth seed Rice or 12th seed Southern Miss in the tournament quarterfinals on Thursday (March 9) at 1 p.m. Mountain time/2 p.m. Central.
UTEP is 12-11 in C-USA Championship games, reaching the semifinals in 2006, 2008, 2013, 2015 and 2016 and the final in 2010 & 2011.
The lone senior on the team in Dominic Artis sees this as a huge opportunity for not only the team, but a chance to represent the city of El Paso on a national stage. But it all comes back to the basics for the Miners.
"Just keep doing what we are doing," Artis said. "Especially defensively, and offensively we just need to get more in transition as well as flowing the team play a lot better."
The winner of Thursday's game will advance to Friday's semifinals at 10:30 a.m. Mountain time/11:30 a.m. Central. That game will be shown on CBS Sports Network