EL PASO, Texas – For the first time in 61 years, the NM State men’s basketball program will compete in the WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational. The Sun Bowl Association and WestStar announced that the Aggies will join UTEP, Kent State, and North Carolina A&T in the Don Haskins Center on Wednesday and Thursday, December 21-22, 2022.
“We are very excited to bring in New Mexico State for the first time since 1961 as we’ve been talking with Athletic Director Mario Moccia about this since his arrival to the Borderland,” Executive Director Bernie Olivas said. “Barry Kobren, Amen Ayoub and the rest of the basketball committee continue to work hard to make this a quality tournament and we are thankful for that.”
“I am excited our team is in the WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational field this year. Our fans will have a chance to watch the Aggies in person two more times during the year with a short drive over to the Don Haskins Center and I hope they take advantage of the opportunity. We have always had good fan support when we play UTEP in El Paso and I will expect to have a big crowd and a ‘home court’ advantage when we play a great Kent State team,” Moccia expressed. “In addition, the possibility of playing UTEP for a third time during the year is unique and I know our fans always highlight those games on the schedule, home or away. I want to thank Bernie, Barry and Amen for making this happen. We have spoken about this possibility many times over the last several years and they continue to be great personal friends and partners with Aggie athletics.”
Coming off a successful trip to the NCAA Tournament, this is the first schedule announcement of the 2022-23 for NM State. The Aggies previously announced a preseason trip to the Bahamas where they will compete in a series of exhibition contests leading up to the 2022-23 season.
Three teams in the field reached post season last year including the UTEP Miners, who made a run in The Basketball Classic postseason tournament, reaching the third round before falling to Southern Utah. The Miners finished the year 20-14 and tallied their first 20-win season since 2014-15. It was also UTEP’s first postseason win since 2009.
Kent State, who won the 2019 WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, returns to The Don after a going 23-11 in 2021-22, while ending the season on a 14-game win streak before falling in the MAC Tournament Championship Game. Golden Flashes head coach Rob Senderoff earned MAC Coach of the Year after crossing off multiple milestones during the season. He picked up his 200th career win, his 100th career-MAC victory and climbed the MAC coaching ranks to seventh place in all-time wins. Senderoff also set a program record with his seventh 20-win season.
North Carolina A&T is making its second appearance in the Sun Bowl Invitational and is led by coach Will Jones. NC A&T, also known as the Aggies were the MEAC champions in 2021 before moving to the Big South Conference for the 2021-2022 season. They will be making the move to the Colonial Conference this season. NC A&T spent 50 years in the MEAC where it won 13 regular season titles and 15 tournament titles.
The WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational values its relationship with the HBCU’s as this is the 18th time in 23 years that it will feature an HBCU team. The Sun Bowl Association believes this honors the legacy of the Tournament’s namesake, Coach Haskins.
The Aggies will be led by first year head coach Greg Heiar. Coming off of the 2021 NJCAA National Championship, Heiar will look to continue to widespread success he’s seen in his 22-year coaching career. Prior to NM State, Heiar’s coaching stops have included the NCAA Division I, NCAA Division III, and NJCAA levels.
Tickets to the WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational will go on sale soon but the exact date has not been announced. Fans can purchase tickets to all four games of the event for as low as $25 dollars (Rows 35-39). Tickets for Rows 1-34 will be available for the full event for just $45. For active military with proper military ID, up to four tickets can be purchased to all four games for just $10. For fans who can attend just one session of the tournament, tickets are available for $24 (Rows 1-34), $13 (Rows 35-39) or $6 for military. Tickets can be purchased over the phone at (915)747-8837, by emailing email@example.com, through UTEP’s website, or by heading to the Eisenberg Family Ticket Office in El Paso.
For more information on the 2022 WestStar Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational please go to www.sunbowl.org.
For complete coverage of NM State men’s basketball as the Aggies prepare for the 2022-23 campaign, visit NMStateSports.com – the official home of Aggie athletics – and follow the Aggies on Facebook (NM State Men’s Basketball), Twitter (@NMStateMBB) and Instagram (@NMStateMBB).
COURTESY NEW MEXICO STATE ATHLETICS