Eagles pick up road games at USF and Mississippi State
DUNK CITY, Fla. – Riding the momentum of a NCAA Sweet Sixteen 16 appearance and the hiring of head coach Joe Dooley, FGCU will take part in the 2013 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, scheduled for December 22-23 at Orleans Arena.
As part of the tournament, the Eagles head to American Athletic Conference (formerly the BIG EAST) member USF on Dec. 17 before going to SEC foe Mississippi State on Dec. 19. FGCU will then go west to Las Vegas where it will play two games against a field of FAMU, Radford and Sacred Heart. The Green and Blue’s first round matchup on Dec. 22 with one of the three opponents will be announced at a later date with the winners and losers from the two contests meeting the next day.
“We are very excited to be part of the Las Vegas Classic,” said Dooley, who was named FGCU head coach on April 17 after 10 seasons as an assistant at Kansas. “It’s a great opportunity for our team to play tough road games against good programs in USF and Mississippi State, as well as a pair of neutral site games in a great venue out west.”
FGCU won 14 of its last 17 games to finish with a program Division I record 26 wins (26-11). The Eagles used a 13-5 A-Sun record in the regular season to earn the No. 2 seed in the conference postseason tournament before posting three consecutive double-digit wins en route to the A-Sun title and automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament in just its second year of postseason eligibility. FGCU became the first No. 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history to advance to the Sweet 16 and the first team since the 1987 Florida squad to win its first two tournament games. The Eagles opened with a second round win over No. 2 seed Georgetown and followed with a win over No. 7 seed San Diego State in the third round to earn a trip to Dallas Cowboys Stadium for the South Region semifinals.
The meeting with USF will be the first between the two teams. The Bulls are just two seasons removed from a pair of wins in the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the third round in 2012 when they went 22-14. Mississippi State just wrapped up its first season under head coach Rick Ray with a 10-22 overall mark, highlighted by a SEC Tournament first round victory over South Carolina. The meeting with the Bulldogs will also be a first for the Eagles.
Also in the field but not on FGCU’s schedule are UNLV and Santa Clara, who will join USF and Mississippi State in the other four-team tournament, held on the same dates.
Always one of the top early season tournaments of the college basketball season, past champions of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic include Kansas State (2008), Alabama (2009), New Mexico (2010) and Baylor (2011). The 2012 tourney was won by Colorado State, who defeated Virginia Tech 88-52 in the championship game.
Hosting more than 200 events each year, the Orleans Arena is located just west of the Las Vegas strip and was recently named the #1 mid-size arena in the USA by Venues Today magazine.
Tickets will be available at the Orleans Arena box office beginning at 12 noon on May 3, 2013 (702.284.7777 or 888.234.2334) and via the internet at www.orleansarena.com.