This was the plan. Be UTEP when conference play begins.
On Wednesday, the Miners went to 12-3 Tulane and led all the way en route to a Conference-USA season opener win in New Orleans, 66-57.
It was a fingernail scraper until the final seconds. But UTEP's defense and some (finally) offense means 1-0 on the road in C-USA and makes the Miners a player for the league championship.
It's age-old mid-level NCAA Division I strategy: Be ready for the conference season. The "real bigs," the TV schools, spend November and December trying to remain unbeaten. UTEP Coach Tim Floyd used the strategy of playing those bigs early - and when his team finished 6-6, it was good sign.
Tulane is not great shakes, but does have three outstanding players. The Miners' defense held those guys, and the other Green "Wavers, to fewer than 60 points. And despite two Miner big men (Bohannan and Lang) fouling out, Tulane only mildly threatened late in the game.
This is where the Miners wanted to be, and are, in the 16-game C-USA season