POSTED: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 2:39pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 6:36pm
The Sun Bowl Association and Bank of the West announced today the field for the 50th annual Bank of the West Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational. The nation’s oldest collegiate holiday basketball tournament, that dates back to 1961 will be held on December 28-29 featuring Colorado State from the Mountain West Conference, an old UTEP rival, as well as Arkansas-Pine Bluff from the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Jacksonville State from the Ohio Valley Conference, and tournament host, UTEP.
“We are very excited to be able to once again pair UTEP against one of their former Western Athletic Conference rivals, the Colorado State Rams,” said Barry Kobren, chair of the basketball committee. “The two teams have a long storied history against each other and both experienced success last year having played in the NIT.” They will be joined by a 2010 NCAA tournament team, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, along with Jacksonville State who is led by veteran head coach James Green.”
Colorado State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Jacksonville State will all be making their first appearance in the tournament. Head coach James Green is no stranger to the tournament though as he was a part of the 2005 Sun Bowl tournament on the staff of Mississippi Valley State.
“Our staff is working hard along with the Sun Bowl Association to showcase this wonderful holiday tradition” said Larry Patton, President and CEO of Bank of the West. “This year marks the 50th annual Bank of the West Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational and we are truly excited to be a part of the oldest holiday collegiate basketball tournament in the country.”
UTEP and Colorado State will open the two-day tournament with a 7 p.m. tip-off on December 28 followed by Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Jacksonville State at 9 p.m. The championship game is slated for a 7 p.m. start on December 29 following the 5 p.m. consolation game. UTEP returns to the court following a 25-10 season and an 11-5 record in Conference USA play to earn a third seed in the 2011 C-USA Championships. The Miners were just one of 21 schools to record 25 wins or more in each of the last two seasons.
About the Teams:
Colorado State University (19-13, 9-7) are led by fifth-year head coach Tim Miles and have appeared in post season play the past two seasons. Colorado State closed out last year’s campaign with a program-record nine league wins to finish fourth in the Mountain West Conference. The Rams are hoping to build on the success of the past two seasons in the new look Mountain West Conference.
Jacksonville State (5-25, 3-15) is led by fourth-year head coach James Green who is a veteran Division I head coach for 14 years. Despite their record, the team was competitive in most every game having lost nine games by five or fewer points. Playing in the tradition rich Ohio Valley Conference, the veteran squad looks to close out more games with 8 of their top 10 scorers returning.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (7-24, 7-11) is led by fourth-year head coach George Ivory who was an assistant coach under James Green at Mississippi Valley State during the 2007-08 season. The Golden Lions, who return 4 of the top 5 scores look to get back to their winning ways from the 2009-10 season where they convincingly beat Winthrop 61-44 in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament only to fall to eventual tournament champions Duke in their next game.
UTEP (25-10, 11-5) are led by 17 year veteran head coach Tim Floyd who is going into his second year as head coach for the Miners. UTEP enters this season with only one senior in forward Gabriel McCulley, after graduating eight seniors which made up 82 percent of their scoring last season. Two other letterwinners will join McCulley from last year’s squad in center John Bohannon, and guard Michael Perez. The Miners are only one of 21 teams to post back to back 25 or more sin seasons that past two years.
Beginning Dec. 1, tournament tickets will be available at the Sun Bowl Association office at (915-533-4416 or 800-915-BOWL), the UTEP Ticket Center (915-747-5234) and TicketMaster outlets. Tournament tickets can be reserved now by calling the Sun Bowl Association office. Tournament tickets are also included in UTEP season ticket packages.