June 11, 2009
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Longtime John Wooden Classic participant UCLA will face Mississippi State in the 16th annual John R. Wooden Classic on Dec. 12, 2009 at Honda Center. The last and only time these two teams have faced each other was in 1995 when UCLA beat MSU 86-67 in an NCAA Sweet 16 game in Oakland, Calif., on the Bruins' way to that season's National Championship.
This will be UCLA's seventh consecutive appearance in the Wooden Classic (13th overall), with a record of 9-3 in prior contests. In last year's event, the Bruins defeated DePaul 72-54. UCLA finished the 2008-09 season with an overall record of 26-9 and national ranking of 18th in both polls. In their fifth straight appearance in the NCAA tournament the Bruins fell to Villanova in the second round, eliminating their chance of a fourth straight Final Four appearance. The team returns key contributors from last season including three seniors James Keefe, Michael Roll and Nikola Dragović and also welcomes in its second-consecutive top five recruiting class.
This will mark the second time that Mississippi State has participated in the John R. Wooden Classic, following its 2004 appearance in which the Bulldogs lost to the Arizona Wildcats, 68-64. Under the direction of 12th-year coach Rick Stansbury, MSU returns all five starters from a team that posted a 23-13 ledger after winning the SEC Tournament and losing to Washington in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulldogs, who have advanced to the Big Dance in six of the last eight years, were led in scoring (12.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.8 rpg) by All-SEC forward Jarvis Varnado, who also led the nation with a league-record 170 blocked shots. He enters the 2009-10 campaign 141 blocks shy of tying the NCAA record.
In addition, this annual event marks the return home for highly touted signee Renardo Sidney, a Mississippi native who prepped in the Los Angeles area the past three years.
The lineup for the second game will be announced as the information becomes available.
To access the priority ticket order forms for the 2009 Wooden Classic click here.
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.