March 12, 2006
The Lipscomb Bisons will play the University of Texas-El Paso Tuesday night in the opening round of the 2006 National Invitation Tournament in El Paso, Texas at the Don Haskins Center.
"They said we were going to play in our geographical area," said Lipscomb Coach Scott Sanderson. "I guess they meant the United States."
The Bisons, regular season champions in the Atlantic Sun Conference (21-10, 15-5), are seeded No. 10 in their first ever trip to national postseason play on the NCAA Division I level. The Bisons are 21-10 this season. Texas-El Paso from Conference USA, is 20-9, 11-3 in the conference, including a 14-2 home record. The Miners are the No. 9 seed.
Texas-El Paso has three players averaging in double figures _ senior forward Jason Williams, 6-foot-6, with 14.6 points, senior forward John Tofi, 6-8, with 13.9 and senior guard Miguel Ayala, 6-6, with 10.5.
"They are a physical, strong team," said Sanderson. "They are more of a half court team that tries to pound the ball inside offensively. They have always been a very good home team. It is always a very difficult place to play."
Sanderson is looking forward to his team playing on a national stage in the revamped 40-team tournament. Sixteen teams are playing opening round games.
"As the week has gone on the last three or four days of practice have been very, very good," said Sanderson. "Our players are excited about the first postseason play in the history of our school on the NCAA level."This will be the first meeting between the two teams. UTEP has not played in the NIT since 2001 when they defeated McNeese State 84-74 in El Paso before losing at Memphis 90-65.
The winner advances to play Michigan (18-10, 8-8), the No. 1 seed, in Ann Arbor March 17.