On Friday night, the Don Haskins Center was sold out, filled with 12,000+ fans rooting on the UTEP men's basketball team. A week of Orangeville events led up to the big day. UTEP played well, but lost to Pacific, 66-61.
Two days later ... well, I look out the window and see the star on the mountain is still orange, but the fan spirit quickly died.
Slightly more than 2,000 fans (2,000 is not a typo) showed up Sunday afternoon to watch the Miners beat Mercer, 87-74. I talked to several people who said it was the smallest crowd they can remember ever seeing at a UTEP men's basketball game. Sold out on Friday to 2,000 fans on Sunday is an amazing drop and has to be disappointing for the players.
To be sure, there were some extenuating circumstances. For one, the game wasn't included in the season ticket package because it was a tournament game. So, a lot of season ticket holders probably skipped it. Also, in this NFL-centric city, a basketball game at noon on Sunday is going to be a tough sell.
This looks to be a good Miner squad, so I don't expect many more sad scenes like we saw Sunday.
Evidence of Sunday's sparse crowd. (Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre)