NORMAN, Okla. - While the entire 2006-07 University of Oklahoma men's basketball schedule is in the finalization stages, the bracket for one of the country's premier regular season events -- which will feature the Sooners this year -- was announced Thursday.
Oklahoma will participate in the eight-team EA SPORTS Maui Invitational Nov. 20-22 at Maui's Lahaina Civic Center. The tournament's first game will feature the Sooners and 2006 Elite Eight participant Memphis at 1:30 p.m. CST (9:30 a.m. Hawaiian time).
The Tigers, who posted a 33-4 record last year and won the Conference USA regular season crown with a 13-1 record, return two starters, 44 percent of their scoring and 62 percent of their rebounding from last season.
OU's second-round opponent will be either Purdue or Georgia Tech. The first-round winners will meet Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. CST while the losers will face each other at 12:30 p.m. Purdue finished with a 9-19 record last year (3-13 in Big Ten) while Georgia Tech registered an 11-17 overall mark (4-12 in Atlantic Coast Conference).
The Sooners' third-round opponent will come from a group of four teams on the opposite side of the bracket. The four squads are DePaul (12-15 last year), Kentucky (22-13), 2006 national runner-up UCLA (32-7) and Division II tournament host Chaminade (19-9).
“We’re excited to be part of such a prestigious early season tournament and of this particular Maui field," commented first-year OU head coach Jeff Capel. "This could be as strong a field as there’s ever been for this event. We feel like it’s a great honor to have a chance to represent OU against some real quality opponents.
“Memphis presents a real tough challenge. Last year they were as athletic a team as I’ve seen in a while. Obviously, they’ve got a great coach on the sidelines in John Calipari and he’s been successful every place he’s been. They have a great recruiting class coming in and they return some really good players. We look forward to the challenge and to putting our young team on the floor against some great competition.”
Each of the tournament's 12 games will be televised by the ESPN family of networks. All first-round games will air on ESPN2. First-round winners will play on ESPN in the second round while second-round games involving first-round losers will appear on ESPNU. The title game will be shown on ESPN.
This will mark Oklahoma's third trip to the Maui Invitational with the previous two taking place under former head coach Billy Tubbs. The Sooners finished in second place during the 1988-89 season by beating Ohio State (97-93) and UNLV (83-81) before losing to eventual national champion Michigan (91-80). During the 1992-93 campaign, OU lost to BYU (76-75) and then downed Chaminade (105-88) and DePaul (108-94).
Connecticut won last year's EA SPORTS Maui Invitational and was preceded this millennium by North Carolina (2004), Dayton (2003), Indiana (2002), Duke (2001) and Arizona (2000).
Oklahoma returns two starters and eight letterwinners from last year's 20-9 squad that competed in the NCAA Tournament, including Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Michael Neal. Neal averaged a team-high 14.8 points per Big 12 Conference game and shot .495 from 3-point range. His 3.9 treys per league contest set a Big 12 record.
This will be the first Maui Invitational appearance for Capel, a standout at Duke from 1993-94 to 1996-97. The Blue Devils won the event his senior year in high school and the year after he graduated from Duke.
For ticket information, call the OU Athletics Ticket Office at (800) 456-4668 or (405) 325-2424.
The official Web site for the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational is www.mauiinvitational.com.