Last year, coach Bobby Hurley’s Sun Devils went 15-17 but did score wins over NCAA tourney squads Texas A&M, Stephen F. Austin, Oregon State and USC. Only two starters return, including guard Tra Holder who led the team in scoring last season (14.2 ppg). Senior forward Obinna Oleka surged in the second half of the season, scoring double figures in 13 of his last 16 contests.
The Tigers will appear in their first Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Clemson went 17-14 a year ago, including 13-4 at home despite playing those games in Greenville while Littlejohn Coliseum was under renovation. The team tied a school record with 10 ACC victories. Returning senior forward Jaron Blossomgame led the team in scoring (18.7 ppg) and rebounding (6.7 rpg).
VIEW TEAM The Wildcats return to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off where they went 2-1 in 2010. A two-time all-conference performer, Jack Gibbs ranked fifth nationally in scoring at 23.5 ppg last season. Peyton Aldridge also returns after averaging 15.5 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds. Davidson is coming off its fifth straight 20-win campaign and 10th in the last 12 years, and has reached the postseason in 11 of the last 12 years. Head coach Bob McKillop is beginning his 27th season with the school.
The Tigers went 2-1 in the 2008 Puerto Rico Tip-Off, losing only to fellow 2016 participant Xavier. Missouri coach Kim Anderson took over last year and began molding the young team, with freshmen Kevin Puryear and Terrence Phillips the only players to start every game. The forward Puryear led the team in scoring at 11.5 points per game. This year’s edition is also powered by youth, as 10 of 14 players on the summer roster are freshmen or sophomores.
The Panthers won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament last season, then experienced an eventful first weekend of the NCAA tournament. Kevin Jesperson drained a mid-court buzzer beater to lead UNI to a first round upset of Texas, but the Panthers somehow couldn’t hold a 12 point lead in the final 44 seconds against Texas A&M in round two. The 23-13 team used the same starting five every game, but only guard Jeremy Morgan (11.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and forward Bennett Koch return.
The Sooners reached their fifth NCAA Final Four a year ago, losing to eventual champion Villanova. OU was able to start the same five players in all 37 games, but three of those players have moved on, including Oscar Robertson Award winner Buddy Hield. Returning are senior guard Jordan Woodard (13.0 ppg) and junior forward Khadeem Lattin (team high 77 blocks). Head coach Lon Kruger begins the season needing 10 wins to reach 600 for his career.
The Green Wave will play in Puerto Rico for the first time since the Puerto Rico Shootout in November 1996. Mike Dunleavy Sr., who has 613 wins as an NBA head coach, takes over his first college program this fall. Senior guard Malik Morgan is the top returning scorer (12.2 ppg) and also led the team with 80 assists last season. Guard Von Julien and center Ryan Smith also started more than half the team’s games a year ago.
The Musketeers won the 2008 Puerto Rico Tip-Off, with C.J. Anderson earning tournament MVP honors. Xavier is coming off a 28-6 season, tying for the second highest win total in school history and earning its first ever top five national ranking for several weeks in the spring. Chris Mack was named national Coach of the Year by the USBWA, CBS Sports and Basketball Times. Junior guard Tevon Blueitt (15.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg) was a third team All-America selection.
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