COLLEGE STATION – The Texas A&M men’s basketball team has accepted a bid to the 2014 College Basketball Invitational (CBI) as the Aggies will host Wyoming at Reed Arena on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the tournament’s opening round.
“We’re excited to be playing the postseason considering all the challenges we have had this season,” Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy said, “Our desire is always to play in the NCAA Tournament and compete for championships, however, this is a step in the right direction for our program in our drive for that goal.”
The CBI appearance is the Aggies’ first in the seven-year history of the event, which is hosted by the Gazelle Group. It also marks Texas A&M’s 19th all-time appearance in a post-season tournament and the program’s eighth trip to the postseason in the last 10 seasons.
Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday morning through the 12th Man Foundation and can be purchased by calling 1 (888) 99-AGGIE (992-4443) or going on-line to www.12thManFoundation.com.
The CBI is comprised of a 16-team field and hosted at on-campus arenas throughout the country. The event is a single-elimination tournament, up until the championship series, which is unique in college basketball in being a best-of-three series.
Eighteen teams have used the CBI to springboard to the NCAA Tournament the following year, while another 10 went on to the NIT, including Pittsburgh, which won the 2012 CBI before earning a No. 8 seed in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, and VCU, which won the 2010 CBI and then advanced to the 2011 Final Four.
Additionally, the 2011 CBI championship series featured Creighton and Oregon. The following season the Bluejays were ranked as high as 13th (AP) and 12th (ESPN/USA Today) while the Ducks went 24-10.
The CBI presents an opportunity for Texas A&M to build on a solid regular season as the Aggies enter the field with a 17-15 overall record, including an impressive 16-3 mark on their home court at Reed Arena.
Texas A&M features a young core of players with only three seniors on the roster and has stood out as one of the top defensive squads in the Southeastern Conference this season by ranking third in both scoring defense (63.4 points per game allowed) and field goal percentage defense (.402). Additionally, the Aggies have defended the perimeter well, leading the league and ranking among the national leaders with a .293 3-point field goal percentage defense.
On the court, A&M is led by sophomore guard Alex Caruso who has developed into one of the country’s most dynamic players. The College Station, Texas, native paced the SEC in both assists (154) and assists per game (4.8) while ranking second in steals (65). Caruso showed his offensive flare during the Aggies’ most recent outing, scoring a career-best 28 points with five 3-point baskets against Missouri at the SEC Tournament.
Junior Jamal Jones, meanwhile, has proved to be a top-scoring option during his first season in the A&M program as the Wynne, Ark., native has produced eight games of 20 or more points while ranking 11th in the SEC by averaging 16 points per game during league play.