American Airlines Center to host tripleheader event to kick off college basketball season

Posted Tuesday, Sep. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Tip-Off Showcase When: Nov. 8, times and TV to be determined Where: American Airlines Center Who: Oklahoma vs. Alabama; SMU vs. TCU; Baylor vs. Colorado Tickets: Range from $29-199 and go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. Fans can purchase tickets at the American Airlines Center box office, online at ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000.

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There aren’t many states that produce more basketball talent than Texas, but it was hard to see that last year. No college from the Lone Star State made the NCAA Tournament, the first time that’s happened since 1977.

Not exactly a great prelude to this season when the state takes college basketball’s center stage with the Final Four coming to AT&T Stadium in Arlington. This is a new year, though, and there are new hopes for schools within the state.

Three of them will headline college basketball’s kickoff event, the Tip-Off Showcase, on Nov. 8 at American Airlines Center. The tripleheader event, which is managed by bd Global, is being billed as where the road to the Final Four “begins.”

Two 20-win teams from last season, Alabama and Oklahoma, will play each other. Then it’s a Metroplex showdown between TCU and SMU followed by Baylor and Colorado.

“This does something for the state and Dallas-Fort Worth because it gets a little buzz going about basketball,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said at a news conference announcing the event Tuesday afternoon.

“I think all of us have a chip on our shoulder because nobody in Texas went to the NCAA Tournament. I know I haven’t been there in four years [with LSU in 2009], and that’s the ultimate goal.”

Johnson feels good about his team even though they lost four seniors and Devonta Abron to an Achilles injury. He’s got a solid recruiting class coming in, led by center Karviar Shepherd and shooting guard Brandon Parrish.

Kyan Anderson, the Frogs’ leading scorer from last season, is back, and forward Amric Fields should be recovered from his knee injury when the season starts. Aaron Durley will provide another inside presence, as well.

“If we can remain healthy and get healthy throughout the year, I think we have a chance to be a very decent basketball team,” Johnson said. “And you’ve got to get away from the word rebuild … we’re trying to win now.”

The first game will certainly test the Frogs. The Mustangs, which won last year’s contest between the schools, return all five starters, and Larry Brown continues to build excitement around the program, especially after getting a commitment from Prime Prep standout and one of the nation’s top 2014 recruits, Emmanuel Mudiay, last month.

Baylor is no stranger to landing elite-level recruits, of course, as Scott Drew has turned the program around in his 10 years at the school.

The Bears had a disappointing season by missing the Big Dance last year, although they went on to win the NIT. They have higher expectations this season with Isaiah Austin, Cory Jefferson and Brady Heslip returning.

Austin and Jefferson opted to stay in school another year rather than pursue their NBA aspirations. Austin, who was one of the country’s top recruits coming out of Arlington Grace Prep in 2012, is expected to become an even bigger force in the paint his sophomore season after averaging 13 points and 8.3 rebounds a game as a freshman.

“Hopefully he’ll be more effective in the paint because of his added strength,” Drew said. “At the same time, if you look in the NBA, there are not a lot of true back-to-the-basket guys and Isaiah is comfortable facing up.

“So we’ll see. But he’s somebody who is fun to coach because there is a variety of ways you can use him and things you can do to make it tough on the other team.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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