UTRGV schedules three games at Bert Ogden Arena for 2020-21 season

EDINBURG — The UTRGV athletics department announced Wednesday that Vaqueros basketball is headed back to play under the bright lights of Bert Ogden Arena.

For the upcoming 2020-21 season, the UTRGV men’s basketball team has two scheduled home games against Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Western Athletic Conference foe New Mexico State at Bert Ogden Arena, while the UTRGV women’s basketball team will also take on Texas A&M Corpus Christi at the same site. The men’s and women’s games against the Islanders are scheduled for a doubleheader Dec. 2.

The last time UTRGV played at Bert Ogden Arena was in Nov. 2018 against the University of Oklahoma.

“We are excited to be able to bring UTRGV basketball back to Bert Ogden Arena and plan for this to be the start of a bigger long-term partnership,” UTRGV Vice President and Director of Athletics Chasse Conque said. “As we work to enhance the fan and student-athlete experience, playing in the Valley’s premier venue is key to our mission to #RallyTheValley behind UTRGV Athletics.”

Bert Ogden Arena is the home to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the NBA G League affiliate of the Houston Rockets.

Now, both UTRGV men’s and women’s teams get to experience playing in a professional setting as Bert Ogden Arena seats nearly 7,700.

UTRGV men’s basketball head coach Lew Hill said it’s a great opportunity for his team.

“Playing at Bert Ogden Arena gives you a pro atmosphere. It’s a pro court because of the Vipers, and that’s exciting in and of itself,” he said. “When we play at the (UTRGV) Fieldhouse, it gives you that sense of intimacy. I love that, but I love the chance of playing at both. I think it’s a real unique experience for our guys, girls and for the university to play at both.”

This past season, attendance for UTRGV hoops home games at the Fieldhouse increased 13.5% from the previous season. The men’s basketball team also posted a program best 11-3 record while playing at home.

“Now we’re creating a home-court advantage. I didn’t think the first few years we had that, but I think we’re becoming one of the tougher places to play,” Hill said. “We play hard, we play tough, grit and grind, and I think that’s what the Rio Grande Valley is about.”

The men’s team will open against the rival Islanders as part of a doubleheader with the UTRGV women’s team, before taking on New Mexico State, the defending WAC champions, on Feb. 18.

“I think both of us getting that experience of playing in a bigger arena at the same time, and hopefully we can pack it for both games against Corpus Christi, I think that’s awesome within itself, so having the women come and join us, is beautiful,” Hill said. “New Mexico State, it’s not a rivalry until we start beating their butts, but we’re getting closer.”

UTRGV women’s basketball head coach Lane Lord was in his first year with the Vaqueros back in 2018 and attended the men’s game against Oklahoma at Bert Ogden Arena. Lord said he’s pumped for his team to play at Bert Ogden Arena, but he’s also excited they’ll have the chance to watch the UTRGV men’s basketball team play as part of the doubleheader.

“I think it’s big time. No. 1, we love to watch our men’s team play. Coach Hill does a great job with his group,” Lord said. “So often during the season, especially during conference play, we may be in opposite venues, so we’re excited to get to see our men play.”

“No. 2, to get to play at Bert Ogden Arena, a big time venue for us, it’s a good opportunity to show what we have in our program and to the community. As we continue to rally the Valley, we want to continue to expose our team to the Valley, to women’s basketball fans and hopefully gain a few more. To have a double-header at Bert Ogden Arena, it’s going to be a special night for all of us.”

UTRGV basketball season ticket holders will receive tickets to all games played at Bert Ogden Arena included in their packages. Season tickets are on sale and can be purchased by contacting the UTRGV Athletics Ticket Office team of Carlos Munoz (956-665-3747) and Tiffany Ochoa (956-665-3415) or through email at tickets@utrgv.edu.

bramos@themonitor.com