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Courtesy: GoBearkats.com
SHSU to host Legends Classic Sub-Regional
Courtesy: GoBearkats.com
Release: 08/07/2012
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Sam Houston State will have the opportunity to play one of the most storied men's basketball programs ever and the Bearkats will host three other NCAA Division I opponents in November as SHSU participates in the 2012 Legends Classic.

Head coach Jason Hooten's Bearkats will travel to face the Indiana Hoosiers in the first round of the tournament Thursday Nov. 15 in Bloomington.

Then Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum in Huntsville will be the host of one of two Legends Classic sub-regional tournaments Monday Nov. 19 through Wednesday Nov. 21.

The tournament will feature a round-robin schedule with two games each evening.

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.

The sixth annual Legends Classic will culminate with its Championship Round games being played at the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Indiana, expected to be ranked No. 1 heading into the 2012-13 season, UCLA, featuring the nation's No. 1 rated recruiting class, and national powers Georgetown and Georgia will host a pair of Regional Round games on their home courts beginning Nov. 11 before advancing to the Championship Rounds in Brooklyn.

Joining Indiana, UCLA, Georgetown, and Georgia in the Legends Classic are UC Irvine, Duquesne, James Madison, Liberty, North Dakota State, Sam Houston State, Southern Mississippi, and Youngstown State.

Sam Houston State returns back two of the Kats' top five scorers from a year ago. Junior guard DeMarcus Gatlin is the team's leading returning scorer after netting 10.4 ppg last season. He is joined by senior backcourt mate Darius Gatson, who handed out a team-high 143 assists while also scoring at a 6.7 ppg clip. Eight top newcomers are expected to bring additional outside scoring punch and strength inside under the boards.

Capsules on the Bearkats' four 2012 Legends Classic foes:

Indiana Hoosiers - Head Coach: Tom Crean (Big Ten Conference)
Has won five National Championships and has been to 36 NCAA Tournaments, including a Sweet 16 appearance in last year's NCAA Tournament...fifth-year head coach Tom Crean led Indiana to its first 20-win season (27-9) since 2008 last year and what many believe to be the nation's best team entering the 2012-13 season...ended the season ranked 13th by ESPN/USA Today and 16th by the Associated Press...expected to return 12 players this year, including all five NCAA Tournament starters from last season, highlighted by sophomore forward Cody Zeller (team highs 15.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg), senior forward Christian Watford (12.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg), and senior guard Jordan Hulls (11.7 ppg, 120 assists).

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.

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