Miners with biggest test yet against conferece foe LA Tech

El Paso, Texas - From losing 12 straight games to now winning the last 6 of 7 against quality conference opponents, the UTEP Miners have yet another challenge on their 4-game home stand.

LA Tech (16-8, 8-3 C-USA) defeated UTEP back in January by 20 points, but the Miners are no doubt a different team from a month ago. Head Coach Tim Floyd said while this is the true test for his squad, a win is well within reach.

"We'd like to think that we've grown a little bit, but I think this is the real test," Floyd said.  "Who knows?  We've just got to go play and play inspired.  In the last ballgame Matt Willms went down with an injury [in a 31-27 game] in the second half.  We're hopeful that he'll be healthy and we'll be healthy mentally and ready to roll."

But believe it or not, UTEP is nearly unbeatable at home as the team has won 21 of its last 22 conference home matchups. Coach Floyd and the players know there is no better chance than now to keep the hot play going.

"It really could be special and I really believe that," Floyd said.  "When you've got a player like Matt who can score it on the block, who's long and athletic and different from a lot of bigs, and you've got two seasoned guards, you've got a chance if we can play mistake-free and continue to guard at a high level."

"We just really need to stay locked in defensively," UTEP guard Dominic Artis said. "I think if we lock in from start to finish, we can come out with another victory. We just need to stay focused on the process, and it could have been really easy to stay in the slump, but the coaching staff staying on us really got us here."

Thursday is UTEP's annual "Military Appreciation" game, and discounted tickets are available for all active military members (valid I.D. must be shown to pick up tickets). Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

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