SAM HOUSTON HOSTS PROGRESSIVE LEGENDS CLASSIC BEGINNING MONDAY
Sam Houston State will host three top NCAA Division I opponents in November as SHSU participates in the Progressive Legends Classic Nov. 19-21.
UC-Irvine, Liberty and Southern Mississippi will visit Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum in Huntsville for the event. The tournament will feature a round-robin schedule with two games each evening.
Southern Mississippi defeated Georgia in overtime Thursday and brings a 3-0 record into the tournament. UC-Irvine is 2-1 with the Anteaters' only loss by one point to UCLA in overtime.
Monday will see Sam Houston host Southern Mississippi while Liberty and UC-Irvine match up. On Tuesday, the Bearkats play Liberty and USM and the Anteaters battle. On the final evening of the tournament, Sam Houston takes on UCI and USM and Liberty face.
"Having the opportunity to play three outstanding NCAA Division I teams on our home floor here in Huntsville is really exciting," Hooten said. "It's great for our program and it's great for area fans."
Southern Miss has been to Huntsville once, with the Bearkats winning 61-57 in 2005. Last season the Golden Eagles finished 11-5 and second place in Conference USA play. They finished the year 25-11 overall and received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, earning the No. 9-seed. They lost their opening game to Kansas State 70-64. The Kats and Golden Eagles have faced each other twice, with each winning once.
UC-Irvine visited Johnson Coliseum in 2007 where the Kats pulled off a 61-54 win. Last season the Anteaters were 12-20 overall and 6-10 in the Big West. They won the Big West Conference Tournament opening game over first place Long Beach State, before losing in the semifinals to Loyola Marymount. The Kats and Anteaters have faced each other twice, with each taking care of business at home.
Liberty was the fifth place team in the Big South last season, finishing the year 9-9 in league play and 14-18 overall. They finished the regular season strong, winning five of their last six games, before losing in the opening round on the Big South Tournament to Charleston Southern. This will be the first meeting between the Bearkats and the Flames.
Capsules on the Bearkats' four 2012 Progressive Legends Classic foes:
Liberty Flames - Head Coach: Dale Layer (Big South Conference)
The Flames look to improve upon their 14-win season of a year ago...fourth-year head coach Dale Layer, who has won over 300 games during his coaching career, welcomes back three starters, each of whom averaged double figures - junior guard John Caleb Sanders (11.6 ppg), senior forward Antwan Burrus (11.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg), and senior guard Tavares Speaks (10.2 ppg).
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles - Head Coach: Donnie Tyndall (Conference USA)
Donnie Tyndall takes over at Southern Miss after leading Morehead State to 114 wins and three straight 20-win seasons in his six years...Tyndall inherits a team that went 25-9 last season and earned its first NCAA bid in 21 years...two starters are back, as is leading scorer Neil Watson, who netted 12.3 ppg as a sophomore...seniors Jonathan Mills (9.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Rashard McGill (2.6 ppg) started for the Golden Eagles in 2011-12.
UC Irvine Anteaters - Head Coach: Russell Turner (Big West Conference)
After a season as one of the youngest teams in the nation, UC Irvine returns five starters from a squad that went 12-20 in 2011-12...third-year head coach Russell Turner will rely on the trio of senior forward Michael Wilder (11.5 ppg), senior guard Damon Starring (11.4 ppg, 100 assists), and junior guard Chris McNealy (10.2 ppg) to lead the Anteaters into the postseason for the first time since 2001-02.