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Josh Jones (far right) and Ethan Wragge (middle) will hope to lead Creighton to a Las Vegas Invitational title.
Courtesy: Sara Davis

Men's Hoops To Open With Wisconsin in Las Vegas

OMAHA, Neb. -- Creighton's high-octane offense will take on Wisconsin's nation-best defense to highlight semifinal round play of the 12th Annual Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 23rd.

Semifinal round pairings were announced today by tournament organizers. Arkansas will take on Arizona State at 6 pm Central on ESPN3 before the Creighton-Wisconsin match-up begins at 9 pm Central on either ESPN2 or ESPNU. One night later, the CU-UW winner will take on the UA-ASU victor for the event title at 10 pm Central on ESPN2, while the CU-UW loser will face the UA-ASU loser at 7 pm Central on ESPN3.

Las Vegas Invitational Schedule (Games played at Orleans Arena)
Nov. 23 (all times Central)
1 pm • Longwood vs. Florida A&M
3:30 pm • Cornell vs. Presbyterian
6 pm • Arkansas vs. Arizona State (ESPN3)
9 pm • Wisconsin vs. Creighton (ESPN2 or ESPNU)

Nov. 24 (all times Central)
2 pm • Longwood/Florida A&M Loser vs. Cornell/Presbyterian Loser
4:30 pm • Longwood/Florida A&M Winner vs. Cornell/Presbyterian Winner
7 pm • Arkansas/Arizona State Loser vs. Wisconsin/Creighton Loser (ESPN3)
10 pm • Arkansas/Arizona State Winner vs. Wisconsin/Creighton Winner (ESPN2)

Creighton ranked ninth nationally last season with 79.2 points per game and were second in field goal percentage at 50.4 percent. Wisconsin led the nation in scoring defense (53.2 ppg.) for the second time in five years, and has been among the nation's top 10 in scoring defense each of the past six campaigns.

Creighton and Wisconsin have met just once previously, a 1949 encounter in Madison won by the Badgers. Creighton is 1-1 all-time vs. Arkansas and 2-4 all-time vs. Arizona State.

Prior to arriving in Las Vegas, Creighton will also host two schools among the four-team pool of Longwood, Florida A&M, Cornell and Presbyterian.

This year's Las Vegas Invitational field includes:

Creighton finished the 2011-12 campaign ranked 21st in the Associated Press poll after tying a school-record for wins in a 29-6 season. The Bluejays will return nine of their top 10 scorers from that squad, losing only point guard Antoine Young, and figure to be a preseason top-25 squad in the fall. First-team All-American and Naismith Player of the Year finalist Doug McDermott (22.9 ppg., 8.2 rpg.) ranked third nationally in scoring and became the first sophomore ever named Larry Bird Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year. Center Gregory Echenique was named MVC Defensive Player of the Year after averaging 9.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game, while fellow senior-to-be Grant Gibbs led the team with 5.0 assists and 1.1 steals per game from the wing position. Creighton ranked among the nation’s best offensive teams, ranking second in assists per game (17.6) and field goal percentage (.504), third in three-point field goal percentage (.424), fifth in assist/turnover ratio (1.46) and ninth in scoring offense (79.2 ppg.). The Bluejays are coached by Greg McDermott, who will enter his third year on The Hilltop with a 52-22 record.

Wisconsin is coming off a 26-win season and its third Sweet 16 appearance in the last five years. The Badgers will look to replace All-American Jordan Taylor in 2012-13, but return four of five starters from last year’s squad and over 70 percent of the team’s scoring. Forwards Ryan Evans (11.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Jared Berggren (10.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg) each earned All-Big Ten honorable mention a year ago and anchored a Badgers defense that allowed an NCAA-best 53.2 points per game last season. The all-time wins leader at Wisconsin, Bo Ryan will enter his 12th season with the Badgers owning a record of 268-101 (.726).

The University of Arkansas is in its second season under Head Coach Mike Anderson and is coming off a successful 2011-12 campaign. The Razorbacks were 18-14 last year with signature wins over three ranked teams including SEC Tournament Champion Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Big 10 co-champion Michigan. The Razorbacks return 77 percent of their scoring and 73 percent of their rebounding from a year ago as well as second-team All-SEC guard BJ Young, the SEC’s three-point percentage leader in Mardracus Wade and Hunter Mickelson who set an Arkansas school record for blocks in season by a freshman. The Razorbacks also get the services of preseason All-SEC forward Marshawn Powell who missed most of the 2012 season to injury.

Arizona State returns three players in 7-2 junior Jordan Bachynski, 6-7 sophomore Jon Gilling and 6-2 guard Chris Colvin who made dramatic improvements over the course of last season. Bachynski averaged in double digits in the final 13 games, Gilling added a career-high 21 points vs. Arizona in early March and averaged nine points per game in the final 22 contests and Colvin averaged 8.7 points in the final 15 games. Also returning is 6-6 senior wing Carrick Felix (10.5 points per game), as 2009-10 Pac-10 Coach of the Year Herb Sendek will look to add to his three 20-win seasons at Arizona State, with highly-touted recruit Jahii Carson set to join the team at the point guard position.

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