College basketball is coming to the Toyota Center.
The Lone Star Showcase on Dec. 21 will feature a crosstown showdown between Rice and Houston at 3:30 p.m. followed by a nationally televised Big 12-SEC Challenge matchup between Oklahoma and Texas A&M at 6 p.m. This game will conclude the inaugural Big 12-SEC Challenge, a 10-game series created by the two leagues and ESPN.
“This is a very exciting day to have the coaches and schools here to announce a world-class basketball event at Toyota Center,” Rockets CEO Tad Brown said. “We want the basketball fans here in Houston to see the great programs here in the area in action.”
Old Conference USA foes (Houston has moved to the American Athletic Conference) Rice and Houston are excited to keep their rivalry alive.
“Our players are going to be extremely excited about playing here and continuing the great rivalry with Rice,” Houston head coach James Dickey said. “To keep the rivalry going and showcase this game with Rice as well as A&M and Oklahoma is great for us. It’s a great venue and our players are thrilled with the challenge to play Rice but to play in this great facility as well.”
“We are really excited about playing here at Toyota Center,” Rice head coach Ben Braun said. “Continuing our rivalry with Houston is important and regardless of conference realignment it’s important that we continue to play.
“We have had some great games with Houston and we want to continue this rivalry. It’s important to our program and our fans.”
Texas A&M has three starters returning after a 18-15 campaign in 2012-13. It is Billy Kennedy’s second season as the head coach. Lon Kruger’s Sooners have added six new players to a team that went 20-12 last year and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
“I am excited to be playing in Houston at such a great venue with some old Southwest Conference foes,” Kennedy said. “We want to continue to play Big 12 teams to keep our fan base and our students engaged in basketball in this part of the country.”