Schedule finalized for the 25th annual Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project

SCHEDULE FINALIZED FOR THE 25TH ANNUAL EMPIRE CLASSIC BENEFITING WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT

July 11, 2019

PRINCETON, N.J. – The schedule is set for the 2019 Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project (@EmpireClassicBB).

The 25th annual Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project is highlighted by Duke meeting Cal and Georgetown taking on Texas in the semifinals of the Championship Rounds presented by Continental Tire at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, Nov. 21.

Duke, which ended last season with a 32-6 record in advancing to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament, welcomes the No. 2 ranked recruiting class (ESPN.com) in the country this season. They will face a Cal team that is now under the direction of Mark Fox, who arrives in Berkeley with 286 wins on a resume that includes head coaching stops at Nevada and Georgia.

Georgetown is enjoying a resurgence under Hall of Famer and Hoya alum Patrick Ewing. After winning 15 games in his first season, Georgetown posted 19 wins a year ago to earn an NIT berth. They will take on a Texas team that won the NIT last season after a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. The Longhorns will be bolstered by the No. 16 ranked recruiting class (ESPN.com) in the country.

The semifinal winners will meet for the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project title on Friday, Nov. 22, preceded by the consolation game.

This will mark the 22nd year that The World’s Most Famous Arena will host the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project. Tickets for the Championship Rounds can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or by calling 866-448-7849. All four games of the Championship Rounds will air on ESPN networks.

Duke, Georgetown, Texas, and Cal will also host two games on their home courts in addition to playing a pair of games at The Garden. They are joined in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project by California Baptist, Central Arkansas, Georgia State, and Prairie View A&M. These four teams will play two road games and meet in the Subregional Rounds at CBU on Nov. 22-23. In the Subregional Round semifinals, Georgia State will play Prairie View A&M while the host Lancers will take on Central Arkansas.

The complete schedule can be found here.

Duke (Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, Atlantic Coast Conference) – Hall of Fame head coach Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest coach in college basketball history, will enter his 40th season at Duke after leading the nationally-ranked Blue Devils to a 32-6 record, the ACC tournament title, and a spot in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament…Duke is paced by Tre Jones, who led the Blue Devils with 192 assists while netting 9.4 ppg…Duke welcomes a Top 5 recruiting class led by the nation’s No. 3 recruit, center Vernon Carey, Jr…the Blue Devils are making their fourth appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project (1999, 2008, 2015)…they won the 2008 title and the 2015 title with an 86-84 win over Georgetown.

Georgetown (Head Coach: Patrick Ewing, Big East Conference) – After a Hall of Fame playing career, Patrick Ewing will enter his third season as the head coach at his alma mater…after winning 15 games during his first season, Ewing guided the Hoyas to 19 wins and a spot in the NIT in 2019…10 players return from last year’s roster, led by a trio of sophomores who rank among the team’s top four scorers – James Akinjo (13.4 ppg, team-high 173 assists and 37 steals), Mac McClung (13.1 ppg), and Josh LeBlanc (9.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 36 blocks)…joining this group will be N.C. State transfer Omer Yurtseven, who averaged 13.9 ppg and 6.7 rpg a year ago…this is Georgetown’s third appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project (1998, 2015).

Texas (Head Coach: Shaka Smart, Big 12 Conference) – In his four years, Shaka Smart has led Texas to two NCAA Tournaments and guided the Longhorns to 21 wins and the NIT title this past season despite playing the eighth most difficult schedule in the country…the Longhorns return a pair of starters in junior guards Matt Coleman (9.8 ppg, team-high 127 assists) and Jase Febres (8.7 ppg)…they will be joined by the No. 16 ranked recruiting class (ESPN.com) in the country…the Longhorns are playing in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project for the sixth time (1997, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014), having won the 2006 and 2014 events…Texas beat Cal, 71-55, to capture the 2014 Classic.

California (Head Coach: Mark Fox, Pac-12 Conference) – With a career record of 286-176 that includes stops at Nevada and Georgia, Mark Fox assumes control of the Bears’ program this season…he inherits a team led by point guard Paris Austin, who netted 11.6 ppg and handed out a team-best 125 assists…Matt Bradley tallied 10.8 ppg while leading the team with a .472 3-point field goal percentage…Cal is making its fourth appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project (2004, 2009, 2014).

California Baptist (Head Coach: Rick Croy, Western Athletic Conference) – In their first season of Division I basketball, the Lancers posted a 16-15 record and earned a berth in the College Basketball Invitational…two starters return from that squad…guard Milan Acquaah was a WAC first-team honoree and the Newcomer of the Year after posting team highs in scoring (19.0 ppg) and assists (104) while also hauling down 5.0 rpg…forward De’Jon Davis led CBU with a 9.2 rpg average to go along with his 13.0 ppg average…CBU is making its Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project debut.

Central Arkansas (Head Coach: Russ Pennell, Southland Conference) – Four starters return for head coach Russ Pennell, a UCA alum and former teammate of Scottie Pippen who enters his sixth year at his alma mater…guard DeAndre Jones tallied 12.5 ppg and led the Bears with 162 assists and 66 steals a year ago…center Hayden Koval was named to the SLC all-defensive team for registering a team-high 6.3 rpg and 72 blocks…the school’s all-time blocks leader with 177, Koval also scored 12.5 ppg…the Bears last played in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project in 2007, going 1-1.

Georgia State (Head Coach: Rob Lanier, Sun Belt Conference) – Long time Texas and Tennessee associate head coach Rob Lanier returns to the head coach’s chair this year with Georgia State…Lanier was head coach at Siena, guiding the Saints to the 2002 MAAC title…he inherits a team that won the Sun Belt championship in posting a 24-10 record…the Panthers will look to a veteran backcourt to offset the loss of their top four scorers from that NCAA Tournament team…Kane Williams is the team’s leading returning scorer at 11.1 ppg…he also handed out 116 assists and had a team-best 64 steals…Damon Wilson tallied 5.4 ppg…the Panthers are playing in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project for the first time.

Prairie View A&M (Head Coach: Byron Smith, Southwestern Athletic Conference) – Last year, Byron Smith led PVAMU to the SWAC regular season and tournament titles, marking the first time ever that the Panthers won both crowns in the same season…the reigning SWAC Coach of the Year sees two starters return from that team, led by first-team All-SWAC pick forward Devote Patterson, who recorded 13.5 ppg and 5.0 rpg…guard Gerard Andrus netted 10.0 ppg to go along with 5.7 rpg…PVAMU is making its third appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project, previously playing in 2008 and 2015.

In the 2018 Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project, Iowa led for virtually the entire game and by as many as 25 in earning the title with a 91-72 win over Connecticut. Luka Garza scored 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds in claiming the tournament MVP award. The Hawkeyes advanced to the title game after upsetting No. 13 Oregon, 77-69. Oregon rebounded to beat No. 15 Syracuse, 80-65, in the consolation game

About the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project
First played in 1995, the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project is acclaimed as college basketball’s premier early-season tournament. Featuring teams from across the nation, the Empire Classic annually attracts the top programs in the sport. Four teams from the most prestigious conferences in the country host a pair of games at home in addition to playing the Championship Rounds at the World’s Most Famous Arena – New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

About Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project (@wwp) is the beneficiary of the Empire Classic. With the mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors, WWP is the hand extended to encourage warriors as they adjust to their new normal and achieve new triumphs. Offering a variety of programs and services, WWP is equipped to serve warriors with every type of injury – from the physical to the invisible wounds of war.

About the Gazelle Group
The Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project is produced by the Gazelle Group of Princeton, N.J. The Gazelle Group is a sports marketing firm, specializing in event production and management, client representation, and sponsorship consulting. Gazelle produces numerous nationally-recognized events, such as the Legends Classic presented by Old Trapper, the Gotham Classic, the Sunshine Slam, and the College Basketball Invitational. For more information on the Gazelle Group, please visit gazellegroup.com.

About the Northeast Conference
The Northeast Conference (NEC) is the sponsoring conference of the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project. Entering its 39th season, the NEC is a NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 11 institutions of higher learning located throughout seven states. For more information on the NEC, visit the official website at www.northeastconference.org or follow on Twitter @NECsports.


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