Toyota Center

Toyota Center to host Lone Star Showcase doubleheader

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The Toyota Center in Houston, Texas will play host to a doubleheader on Dec. 21, one of which will serve as the final game of the inagural Big 12-SEC Challenge.

The doubleheader has been named the Lone Star Showcase with the first game of the day being a non-conference matchup between city rivals Rice and Houston. The nightcap will feature Oklahoma and Texas A&M, in their pairing of the Big 12-SEC Challenge.

“This is a very exciting day to have the coaches and schools here to announce a world-class basketball event at Toyota Center,” Houston Rockets CEO Tad Brown told CSN Houston on Tuesday. “We want the basketball fans here in Houston to see the great programs here in the area in action.”

Houston will be in its first season in the American Athletic Conference, after spending 17 seasons in Conference-USA. The Lone Star Showcase is a way to keep the rivalry with Rice — who remains in CUSA — intact.

“We are really excited about playing here at Toyota Center,” Rice head coach Ben Braun said. “Continuing our rivalry with Houston is important and regardless of conference realignment it’s important that we continue to play.

“We have had some great games with Houston and we want to continue this rivalry. It’s important to our program and our fans.”

The Rice-Houston game with tip at 3:30 p.m. followed by the Sooners and Aggies at 6 p.m.

Oklahoma point guard Isaiah Cousins arrested

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In the early hours of Saturday morning, Isaiah Cousins was arrested for public intoxication and interfering with a police officer, according to the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office in Norman, OK.

Cousins, a point guard on the Oklahoma men’s basketball team, just finished his freshman year with the Sooners. He started several games early in the season, and averaged 2.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game.

Lon Kruger released an early statement on the matter, according to NewsOK.com:  “We’re aware of the situation involving Isaiah Cousins last night. Isaiah feels badly about the incident, will learn from it and move on. The matter will be handled internally.”

While the details of the situation are largely unknown, this is similar to what happened to Oklahoma sophomore quarterback Kendal Thompson about a month ago. According to a USA Today report:

…officers responding to a complaint about a loud party found Thompson asleep on a grass hill outside an apartment complex. Upon waking Thompson up, the officer observed that he smelled like alcohol, didn’t make sense when he spoke and attempted to walk away against the officer’s orders, according to the affidavit.

Chalk this up as college kids partying and carrying on too much, while not respecting the authorities? Most likely. But, again, the details of Cousins’ arrest are limited.

Oklahoma men’s basketball embarks on a 10-day trip to Europe in August. Will Cousins join the team on this trip? That remains to be seen as it all depends on how head coach Lon Kruger elects to punish Cousins.

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

Oklahoma freshman James Fraschilla, son of ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla, rocks the air guitar (VIDEO)

James Fraschilla2
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One of the better trends sweeping the college basketball nation this season has been the growing number of reactionary sideline celebrations.

The trend got its start back in February 2012 when Seton Hall walk-on Peter Dill unveiled “The Hammer of Dill” to the entire word, and the game has never been the same since.

With Dill having graduated from Seton Hall, walk-ons across the country have taken torch from Dill and are doing what they can to provide their team with a much-needed spark off the bench, without even having to take off their warm-ups.

Last night during Oklahoma’s 73-67 win over Texas, Sooners’ walk-on guard James Fraschilla, the son of ESPN Analyst Fran Fraschilla, pulled out his invisible 6-string and went to town. Not too soon after, his fellow benchmates got in to the action.

(Via The Big Lead)

But this was not the first time we’ve seen a member of the bench mob pull out an air guitar this season.

Rem Bakamus is a walk-on guard for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. While the freshman has played in just five games this season, he makes sure to do his part to provide energy from the bench. Back in December against Illinois, in a game the Bulldogs lost 85-74, Bakamus did just that, providing one of the best air guitars the college basketball world has ever seen.

(Via Cosbys Sweaters)

But what really makes this even better is that there is a bond between Fraschilla and members of the Gonzaga program. Back in December, Fraschilla put together his second trick shot video benefiting the Hayden’s Hope foundation, a charity which raises money for children’s organ transplants. During the video, members of the Gonzaga program, including Bakamus, make a cameo.

(Go to 1:10 for the appearance)

So while most of us probably think that Fraschilla’s air guitar performance on Monday night was reactionary, based on the evidence, one must assume that it was pre-meditated. And that makes this so much better.

Walk-ons don’t get to think about the number of shots they are going to take, or if they are going to try a self-alley-oop pass off the backboard. So can we blame them for planning a creative celebration on the sidelines?

Absolutely not.

And I really hope Bakamus and Fraschilla continue their game of one-upsmanship.

UPDATE: I’ve been informed via twitter that the scientific term for this specific type of air guitar is called “The #3tar”. It looks like we can finally abandon the 3-goggles in favor of a shiny new 3tar.

You can reach out and contact Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir

Julius Randle, Prestonwood Christian will not attend Hoophall Classic

Julius Randle
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Following a pair of injuries to two top recruits, Prestonwood Christian Academy (Tex.) will not attend the Hoophall Classic this January in Springfield, Mass.

Prestonwood Christian featured one of the nation’s top seniors, Julius Randle, as well as one of the top sophomores in the country, Mickey Mitchell. In late November, the 6-foot-8 Randle went down a foot injury, which required the surgery the following week. Earlier in the fall, Mitchell, who was Prestonwood’s 6-foot-6 starting quarterback, torn his ACL during the first possession of a Nov. 2 football game.

Randle remains one of the top unsigned players in the nation. Prestonwood was suppose to be part of a nationally televised game against another top power forward, Aaron Gordon and Archbishop Mitty (Calif.).

Replacing Prestonwood Christian will be replaced by Tift County High (Ga.). The Blue Devils are led by top-50 player, Brannen Greene. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard has already committed to Kansas.

The loss of Prestonwood Christian alters the schedule. Lone Peak High (Ut.) was originally slated to face St. Anthony High (N.J.). Lone Peak will take Prestonwood’s spot against Archbishop Mitty on Monday afternoon. St. Anthony will take on Tift County earlier in the morning on Monday.

The absence of Prestonwood this winter will be disappointing, as Randle was one of the few top prospects unsigned heading into the five-day event. Andrew Wiggins (Huntington Prep), Dakari Johnson (Montverde Academy), Jahlil Okafor (Whitney Young) – along with Gordon – are still undecided, while Jabari Parker (Simeon) makes his decision next Thursday.

Prestonwood Christian appeared in the 2011 Hoophall Classic. Although Prestonwood lost to Oak Hill Academy (W.Va.) 85-55, Randle went for 23 points and nine rebounds.

Randle holds offers from Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, and Texas. He has already visited Kentucky and Florida and is scheduled to visit N.C. State and Kansas in January and February.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Top-5 recruit Julius Randle schedules more visits

Julius Randle
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One of the best available recruits in the Class of 2013, Julius Randle (Prestonwood Christian/Plano, TX) announced more visits in the upcoming months.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Randle, a 6-foot-9 power forward, will visit Kansas and Texas next month, while heading to North Carolina State on Jan. 26.

Randle had previously narrowed his list of offers to Kansas, Texas, N.C. State, Kentucky, Florida, and Oklahoma. Randle has already visited Kentucky and Florida. He was in Lexington in September, while visiting Gainesville in October.

Randle has a high ceiling for his skill set. He is very explosive and has great bounce. A hard working rebounder with his strength and size, but his offensive game is tough to matchup with. Randle also has the ability to put the ball on the floor.

Kentucky has already locked up guards  Andrew and Aaron Harrison, along with small forward James Young. John Calipari still has his eyes set up a few more recruits including No. 1 overall player Andrew Wiggins (Huntington Prep/Thornhill, ONT.) and fellow power forward Aaron Gordon (Archbishop Mitty/San Jose, CA).

According to Jason Jordan of USA Today, last month Andrew Harrison told him that he and his brother are actively recruiting Randle to join them at UK.

N.C. State has already landed big men Kyle Washington (Brewster Academy/Champlin, MN) and Beejay Anya (DeMatha Catholic/Gaithersburg, MD).

Florida is also in contention for some of the best frontcourt players in the country with small forward Jabari Parker (Simeon/Chicago IL) and center Dakari Johnson (Montverde Academy, New York, NY). Johnson is also considering Kansas.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Oklahoma pairs with Fox Sports to deliver 1,000 hours of annual Sooner programming

Lon Kruger
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Competition spurs innovation and now, in response to Texas’ Longhorn Network, Oklahoma has linked up with Fox Sports to provide over 1,000 hours of Sooner programming annually as part of a 10-year agreement, the Associated Press is reporting.

From the AP:

The arrangement will allow for live game broadcasts of Oklahoma men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball and Olympic sports as well as pregame and postgame shows for football games, football coach Bob Stoops’ weekly television show and coverage of the annual spring football game.

“We did have a chance to examine several different options, including a stand-alone, 24/7 type of channel but this really gives us the best of all possible worlds,” athletic director Joe Castiglione told the AP.

“We have substantial OU branding and programming along with immediate and full distribution for fans throughout Oklahoma, Texas, our region and … through a variety of Fox platforms around the country.”

According to the report, programming would include a weekly show with head men’s basketball coach Lon Kruger, whose team finished 15-16 last season.

It’s not surprising, really, that Oklahoma would link up with Fox, as the realization has surfaced over the past few years: revenue and content go hand in hand. That’s why we have seen the Pac-12 begin its own network, as well as the Big 10, SEC, ACC, and Big East.

Now Lon Kruger, Bob Stoops, and the OU brass are trying to get a piece of the pie.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_