HOUSTON - Some of the biggest stars in college basketball will be on display at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Dec. 8, 2012 when Texas battles UCLA in the newly named MD Anderson Proton Therapy Showcase. The inaugural event features a men's/women's doubleheader between the Longhorns and Bruins and is presented by the Proton Therapy Center at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The Showcase is the first of what is planned to be an annual event in Houston, highlighting top college basketball programs each season.
"Many thanks to the University of Texas Athletics for its commitment to helping us launch this annual event," said Brooks Downing, president of bd Global, the event promoter. "To pair the Longhorns against UCLA, college basketball's most decorated program, in the men's game creates one of the best non-¬- conference games in the country this season. And in our tip-¬-off game, we have the unique opportunity to showcase two programs that will likely be in the NCAA Tournament next March."
As part of the world-¬-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center, the top-¬-ranked cancer hospital in the nation, the Proton Therapy Center offers the most advanced radiation available to treat tumors in the prostate, lungs, head, neck, esophagus and brain, as well as lymphoma and childhood cancers. One of the most active centers in the nation, the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center continues to pioneer new techniques, such as pencil beam scanning and intensity modulated proton therapy, and is one of the few centers in the world to offer these innovative treatments to patients.
"The MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center is proud to support this inaugural event in college basketball," said Steven J. Frank, M.D., associate professor of Radiation Oncology and the director for Advanced Technologies at MD Anderson. "Just as the teams playing in this event and the NCAA strive toward excellence, our team here at the Proton Therapy Center is committed to providing the best possible care to our patients and their families, to help them overcome cancer and get back to living their lives."
UCLA comes to town with the nation's top-¬-ranked freshman class while Texas boasts a top-¬-5 class of its own in addition to a talented crop of returning players. The Longhorns will be led by a sophomore trio of Sheldon McClellan, Myck Kabongo and Julien Lewis while adding McDonald's All-¬-American center Cameron Ridley, ranked as the No. 8 player in the Class of 2012 by ESPN.
"I've always said playing in Houston should be a priority for our program," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "We have so many Texas alums and fans in the Houston area, and obviously the area has proven to be great for us in regards to recruiting. We've had great fan support in our previous trips to Houston, and we know the Texas fans will do their part to make sure we have a great atmosphere for this game."
Expectations are high in Westwood as UCLA enters the season projected to be ranked among the nation's top-¬-10 teams. Coach Ben Howland landed the nation's No. 1-¬-ranked recruiting class during the off-¬-season, an incoming group led by a pair of McDonald's All-¬-Americans - Shabazz Muhammad, ranked as the No. 2 incoming player in the nation, and Kyle Anderson, ranked No. 5. The class also features a third McDonald's All-¬-American in center Tony Parker as well as shooting guard Jordan Adams.
"We are very excited about playing Texas this season in Houston," said Howland, who has coached the Bruins to three Final Four appearances in his nine years at UCLA. "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to play in Reliant Stadium, a world-¬-class venue that will provide a great setting for college basketball between two historic programs. I have great respect for Rick Barnes and the University of Texas, and I know that our players are really looking forward to facing the Longhorns."
New Texas women's coach Karen Aston will lead her Longhorns squad against UCLA in the opening game of the doubleheader. A former assistant at UT under the legendary Jody Conradt, Aston returns to Austin after four years as the head coach at Charlotte and one season at North Texas. The Longhorns are led by top returner Chassidy Fussell, an All-¬-Big 12 first team selection last season.
"We're tremendously excited to play in Houston where our fans will have the opportunity to see both Texas basketball teams compete at Reliant Stadium," said Aston. "Our roster is laden with Texas talent - including Houston's very own Chelsea Bass - and our players are looking forward to sharing their burnt-¬-orange passion with each and every UT fan in the largest city in our state."
The UCLA women return four starters and welcome back from injury All-¬-American Jasmine Dixon and Atonye Nyingifa, both of which missed last season. The Bruins depth will be significant, thanks to Alyssia Brewer, who transferred from Tennessee and sat out the 2011-¬-12 season, and a top-¬-20 incoming freshmen class.
The Texas-¬-UCLA women's game will tip at 1:30 p.m. CT on Longhorn Network. The men's contest is scheduled to start at 4:15 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised in 100 million homes nationally on ESPN.
Public tickets go on-¬-sale at 10 a.m. CT on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at the Reliant Stadium box office, all Ticketmaster locations, Ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-¬-745-¬-3000. Citi cardmembers can purchase pre-¬- sale tickets for the event through Tuesday, Oct. 16, then will have "preferred tickets" available beginning on Wednesday though Citi Private Pass at www.citiprivatepass.com. Tickets prices begin at $25.
Complete event information can be found at www.texasvsucla.com. For group sales or sponsorship opportunities, interested parties should contact bd Global at 859-¬-951-¬-6141.
About bd Global: bd Global, LLC is a representation, event management, and public relations firm operating on an international platform within the vast industry of sports marketing. bdG has managed events across North America and the Caribbean, including college basketball events in Phoenix, Boston, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Dallas and Houston, and represents a number of major college basketball coaches including Indiana's Tom Crean, Western Kentucky's Ray Harper, UNC Wilmington's Buzz Peterson and Morehead State's Sean Woods. www.bdglobalsports.com.
About MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center: The MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center is a leader in the research and treatment of cancer with proton therapy, an advanced type of radiation that precisely targets and destroys cancer cells while sparing surrounding healthy tissue and reducing the risk of side effects. Since opening in 2006, the Proton Therapy Center has treated nearly 4,000 patients from around the world. As part of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, proton therapy patients have access to all of the expertise and of the nation's top-ranked cancer center.