Men's Basketball To Face Michigan State At The 2001 Pete Newell Challenge

July 17, 2001

Oakland, CA - Big Ten arch-rivals Michigan State and Michigan will make a rare West Coast appearance together at the 2001 Pete Newell Challenge, set for Saturday, Dec. 29, at The Arena in Oakland. The announcement was made today by Jeff Fellenzer, president of Pacific Palisades, Calif.-based Innovative Sports Management and creator of the Pete Newell Challenge.

Superpower Michigan State (28-5 in 2000-01), which has appeared in three consecutive Final Fours (winning the 2000 national championship), will face three-time defending Pac-10 champion Stanford (31-3), which advanced to the Elite Eight last season, in the feature game. New Coach Tommy Amaker and highly regarded 6-6 junior forward LaVell Blanchard will lead Michigan (10-18) against the University of San Francisco (12-18) in the other half of the Pete Newell Challenge. Game times and television coverage will be announced at a later date.

The last time both Michigan State and Michigan appeared in a regular season event together was Dec. 28-31, 1961, at the Far West Classic in Portland, Ore. Michigan State has not played in the Bay Area since Dec. 20-21, 1974, when the Spartans beat USF, 86-78, and lost to Long Beach State, 74-62, at the Cable Car Classic in San Francisco's Cow Palace. Michigan State holds a 3-1 all-time series lead over Stanford. In their last meeting--Dec. 28, 1991--in East Lansing, Mich., the Spartans beat the Cardinal, 72-62. Stanford's only victory in the series came at the old Los Angeles Classic, 81-80, on Dec. 29, 1960, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. That is also the only game played between the teams in the state of California.

Michigan State's last trip to the Bay Area was Dec. 20-21, 1948--a 53-51 loss to Stanford, and a 53-37 victory over Santa Clara, both at the Cow Palace. The last time Michigan played in California was March 17, 1990, when Loyola Marymount outgunned the Wolverines, 149-115, during a second-round NCAA Tournament game at the Long Beach Arena. Michigan holds a 2-0 series lead over USF, having beaten the Dons, 86-66, on Dec. 28, 1973, at the Bruin Classic at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, and 96-78 on Dec. 11, 1965, at Chicago Stadium.

USF returns two East Bay standouts who will be playing their first games at The Arena in Oakland during the Pete Newell Challenge: 6-9 junior forward Darrell Tucker, the Dons' leading scorer last season (16.5 points), and 7-foot senior center Hondre Brewer, sixth in the nation in blocked shots last year, and the West Coast Conference's all-time leading shot blocker with 201. Head Coach Phil Mathews is starting his seventh season at USF.

Last year's Pete Newell Challenge, held on Dec. 21, 2000, at The Arena in Oakland, produced one of the most memorable evenings of basketball ever in the Bay Area. The largest crowd in California college basketball history--19,804, including golfer Tiger Woods and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice--watched then-No. 3-ranked Stanford knock off top-ranked Duke, 84-83, on Casey Jacobsen's jumper with 3.6 seconds to play. In the second game, Cal beat Georgia, 85-64. All four schools were selected for the NCAA Tournament, and Duke went on to win the 2001 national championship. In a fan poll conducted by ESPN.com, Duke-Stanford was the overwhelming choice as college basketball's game of the year last season.

Last year also marked the second time in three years that the all-time California college basketball attendance record was broken at the Pete Newell Challenge. In 1998, a then-record turnout of 19,674 saw Cal beat nationally ranked North Carolina, 78-71, and Stanford defeat Temple, 57-50.

Two of the elite coaches in the country will square off in the Michigan State-Stanford game. Tom Izzo has led Michigan State to four consecutive Big Ten regular season championships, only the fourth school to accomplish the feat. Last season, Michigan State became just the ninth school in history to reach three Final Fours in a row. In his six years as head coach at Michigan State, Izzo--chosen the National Coach of the Year by the National Assn. of Basketball Coaches (NABC) in 2001--has compiled a record of 148-51. The 148 victories in his first six seasons rank fourth in college basketball history. His .736 winning percentage puts him seventh among active coaches.

Stanford's Mike Montgomery was chosen the NABC District-14 Coach of the Year last season, after guiding Stanford to its third consecutive Pac-10 championship and seventh NCAA Tournament berth in a row. In 15 seasons at Stanford, Montgomery has compiled a record of 319-146 (.686). Including eight years at Montana, he has an overall mark of 473-223 (.679). Montgomery was the Pac-10 Coach of the Year in both 1999 and 2000. In 2000, Stanford set an NCAA record for field-goal percentage defense: .352.

The Pete Newell Challenge was created to honor the Hall of Fame coach who won an NCAA championship as head coach at Cal (1959), an NIT title at USF (1949) and an Olympic gold medal for the United States (Rome, 1960). Newell also had a successful stint as head coach at Michigan State (1950-54). Newell, who will turn 86 on Aug. 31, continues to teach both college and professional players--men and women--through clinics around the world, and at his Pete Newell Big Man Camp each summer in Hawaii.

Tickets for the 2001 Pete Newell Challenge are expected to go on sale in early October, through all tickets.com outlets in the Bay Area and at The Arena in Oakland box office. For more ticket information, call tickets.com at (510) 762-2277. Outside California, dial toll-free (800) 225-2277. Or call the arena at (510) 569-2121.

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