UTEP is way ahead of logic. It was another big win Christmas evening, this time 83-76 over Auburn in Hawaii. Didn't UTEP used to be racking up wins over Cardinal Stritch or Doane College this early in the season?
The record is 6-6, better than expected. But the play under second-year Coach Tim Floyd has been next year's team, not this group of one returnee ( Gabe McCulley) and a lockerrom full of sidekicks who still don't know up and down Mesa Street, much less the rigors of January and February in major-college basketball. This was supposed to be just holding on until next year's recruits enroll.
I don't think that's the case (I like that big Lang kid a lot).
What we saw on EPSN2 Sunday was two faces of recent UTEP.
Auburn is coached by previousl four-year Miner Coach Tony Barbee, who brought in talent, all right, and seemed to have a strategy of going out on game night and playing up to each athlete's ability. The guys had a lot green-light go-ahead. Bad night with the green light? No so good.
UTEP is now coached by Tim Floyd, who took over Barbee's upperclassmen leftovers last year, did pretty well, and then brought some "no-names-yet" guys to town this year. And compared to Barbee's style of coaching, Floyd's strategy is not letting each guy play to his pedigree, but each guy has to perform to a plan of attack.
So impressive was UTEP vs. Auburn, Floyd vs. Barbie, on Sunday. Auburn definitely had more physical power; guys who chose the SEC vs. UTEP's Conference USA. But we saw smart play, clutch offense (Bohannan and Perez) ...
There's no young UTEP team in history that would have already defeated the ACC's Clemson and the SEC's Auburn this early in a season.
His Coachency would not have ventured out into the big-time world of basketball this early in the season. His therory was to get ready for conference.
Haskins' followers, Coaches Rab, Gillispie and Doc, would not have won these games with these players.
But Floyd did.
There is something special going on in Utepia.