Nevada now has to play the waiting game

Did Boise State's stunning upset of Nevada ruin the Wolf Pack's chances of making the NCAA Tournament.

Nevada coach Mark Fox doesn't think so. Neither does Boise State coach Greg Graham.

"It would be ridiculous if they aren't in," Graham said after the 73-72 upset Thursday night at Lawlor Events Center. "I think UTEP should be in, too.

"It might hurt their seed. It shouldn't affect them getting in. They are a very good team and had a great year."

Fox blamed himself for the loss, saying he did a poor job of preparing his team defensively.

"It gives us some rest," Fox said. If we're not in, I don't know what I'll do. If we didn't do enough to get in, then it will make the next few months difficult. We put ourselves in this position and we have to deal with it."

Now, the Pack, 24-6, must let the NCAA selection committee decide its fate. It will be a long three days.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FILI

Coaches around the Western Athletic Conference have raved about UTEP point guard Fili Rivera, who made the all-WAC squad, and with good reason.

Rivera truly orchestrates the Miners' offense. He finished with 19 points, five assists and five rebounds in the Miners' 80-62 win over Hawai'i.

"I think we have the best point guard in the country," UTEP coach Doc Sadler said. "You put Fili on Hawai'i's team and they are a top-15 or top-10 team."

You won't get any argument from Hawai'i coach Riley Wallace.

"Everybody would love to have a point guard like that," the veteran UH coach said.

HAVE THEY DONE ENOUGH?

The win was UTEP's 25th of the year, the most since the 1991-92 team racked up 27 victories.

However, two of those wins won't count when it comes time to determine the Miners' NCAA fate because they were against Occidental and Oklahoma Panhandle State, both D-2 schools.

When Sadler was asked if there was a magic number for the NCAAs, he laughingly said "Twenty-four.

"I don't know. Last year we got 24 and our schedule was stronger this year, and the conference remained stronger. I don't know. It's a tough job. We've just got to do whatever we can."

A couple of websites have the Miners in already. Conference officials believe that the Miners need to get to the finals to reach the NCAAs.

FRIENDLY RIVALS

UH's Jake Sottos and UTEP's Rivera, former junior college teammates, met for the third time this year.

Rivera outscored his former JC buddy 19-7.

"Fili knows every move I have," Sottos said. "He was right there whenever I caught the ball. He did not give me a shot."

"I was ready for him," Rivera said. "In the last game, he killed me. I came ready to play him today."

QUICK HITS

UTEP is 11-2 in conference tournaments when it is a No. 2 seed ... It's the first time that UTEP has ever beaten Hawai'i three times in a season...SMU's 47 points was the sixth-lowest score in 20 years of conference tournaments ...Two of the ballboys for the UTEP-Hawai'i game were Landon and Matthew Sadler, sons of UTEP head coach Doc Sadler...Of the 21 previous tournaments, a team which has either won or tied for the regular-season title has won the tournament only eight times - UTEP (1984, 1986), BYU (1992), Utah (1995, 1997, 1999) Hawai'i (2002) and Nevada (2004) ... Six times the local institution has won the men's championship - UTEP in 1984 and 1990, New Mexico in 1996, UNLV in 1998, Fresno State in 2000 and Tulsa in 2003... Dignitaries in attendance included ex-Wolf Pack star Kirk Snyder and current Denver coach George Karl, whose son Koby plays for BSU.

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