Caracter will make UTEP debut on Sunday

UTEP coach Tony Barbee announced Saturday by text message that former Louisville center Derrick Caracter has been academically cleared to participate and will play Sunday in the Miners' game against New Mexico State.

Barbee said Thursday that he didn’t anticipate a problem with Caracter getting eligible, but still wanted to make sure he had cleared the academic hurdle. Barbee said Caracter, who was a much-hyped prospect in high school, but eventually fell into Rick Pitino's dog house, has been working hard in practice and will make an immediate impact on the Miners. UTEP is 5-0 with a schedule that Barbee said was back-loaded, waiting for Caracter to get eligible.

The Miners, a trendy pick to push Tulsa and Memphis and win Conference USA, have only played five games (5-0) with a glut of nonconference games remaining against Ole Miss in Southaven, Miss. (Dec. 16), Oklahoma in Oklahoma City (Dec. 21), at Texas Tech (Jan. 3) and against BYU (Jan. 9). They open C-USA play against SMU on Jan. 6.

UTEP has five players averaging double figures -- guards Randy Culpepper, Julyan Stone and Christian Polk and forwards Arnett Moultrie and Jeremy Williams.