SMC Men's Basketball To Take On San Diego State In Wooden Classic

Gaels To Make First Appearance In Southern California Basketball Event

Diamon Simpson led the Gaels in scoring last season, averaging 14.1 points per game.

Diamon Simpson led the Gaels in scoring last season, averaging 14.1 points per game.

Aug. 29, 2007

Moraga, CA - Saint Mary's head men's basketball coach Randy Bennett announced today that the Gaels will participate in the 14th Annual John R. Wooden Classic. The Gaels will play San Diego State on December 8 at the Honda Center in the first game of the classic, which begins at noon. The SMC versus San Diego State game will be followed by a match-up between the UCLA Bruins and the Davidson Wildcats. This will be the Gaels' first appearance in the Wooden Classic.

"Our basketball program and college is proud to be involved with one of the most prominent events in college basketball," said Bennett. "To be associated with John Wooden, in any way, is as good as it gets in sports."

Saint Mary's return six of its top seven scorers, including First Team All-West Coast Conference forward Diamon Simpson and 2007 Freshman All-American center Omar Samhan. In addition to Simpson and Samhan, SMC returns junior guard Wayne Hunter, senior guard Tron Smith, junior forward Ian O'Leary, and senior guard Todd Golden. Saint Mary's will add three highly touted Australian players to the roster for this season, including transfers Carlin Hughes and Lucas Walker, and Australian National Team member Patrick Mills.

During Bennett's tenure, Saint Mary's is 2-1 against San Diego State. SMC defeated SDSU in Moraga in 2004-05 (80-66), SMC defeated SDSU in 2004-05 in San Diego (73-64), and in 2006-07 SDSU defeated SMC in Moraga (74-73).

The Aztecs, returning two starters and seven letterwinners, will make their first appearance in the Wooden Classic. Led by head coach Steve Fisher, San Diego State finished last season with a record of 22-11 and earned their second consecutive postseason tournament appearance, advancing to the second round of the NIT.

UCLA head coach Ben Howland will bring his team to their fifth consecutive appearance in the Wooden Classic (11th overall), with a record of 7-3 in prior contests. The defending back-to-back regular season Pac-10 champions finished the 2006-07 season with an overall record of 30-6. UCLA will face a Davidson team who has appeared in two consecutive NCAA Tournaments and are coming off their third straight 20-win season, breaking a school record with 29 wins. This is the first Wooden Classic appearance for head coach Bob McKillop and the Wildcats.

Established in 1994, the Wooden Classic is an annual tribute to the legendary former coach and the excellence he personifies. The event, co-produced by Pantheon International, LLC and Anaheim Arena Management, LLC, has a tradition of bringing the nation's finest college programs to Southern California. Visit www.woodenclassic.com for more information on the Wooden Classic.

For Wooden Classic tickets, Saint Mary's fans can contact the Saint Mary's ticket office at 925-631-GoTX for more information.

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