MAUI JIM MAUI INVITATIONAL BRACKET
STORRS, Conn. – The University of Connecticut men’s basketball team will play Oklahoma State in the first round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational on Nov. 21 at 9 p.m. (ET) and will be televised on ESPNU, as announced by the tournament on Tuesday.
The Huskies, who won their first American Athletic Conference championship in 2016, will play three games in Hawaii regardless of outcomes. They will play either North Carolina or Chaminade following the game against the Cowboys.
The 2016 edition of the Maui Invitational includes one of the most competitive fields to date, including national runner-up North Carolina, Oregon, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Georgetown. Four pre-season Top-25 teams and two No. 1 seeds from the 2016 NCAA Tournament are included in this list.
Chaminade will be the host school and all games will take place in the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui, Hawaii from Nov. 21-23.
"We're very excited, as this is the premiere early-season tournament in the country," said Glen Miller, associate head coach who filled in for head coach Kevin Ollie on the Maui Teleconference due to Ollie's participation with the U-18 U.S. National Team.
Since 2000, the Huskies have participated in the tournament on three occasions, winning it twice in 2005 and 2010. Most recently, it was Kemba Walker in 2010 who led the Huskies when they beat Wichita State, Michigan State and Kentucky on their way to the Maui title.
"Back in 2010, we thought we had a chance to be good, but we weren't sure where we stood. We used the tournament as a springboard and emerged with a strong belief of how good we could be," said Miller.
In 2005, Jim Calhoun’s team, which consisted of Rudy Gay, Rashad Anderson and Denham Brown, defeated Arkansas, Arizona and Gonzaga to win its first-ever Maui Invitational.
"In the past, it's been a great barometer for us to see where we are and where we need to be," Miller said. "It's a good bonding trip for the team and gives the chance for some good RPI wins."
UConn is 8-1 overall in the tournament, with its only loss coming to Dayton back in 2000 when Caron Butler, 14-year NBA veteran, was a freshman.
The Huskies have played Oklahoma State only one time previously, losing 80-64 back in December of 1970 in the Bayou Classic. Dee Rowe was the head coach of the Huskies at the time.
Oklahoma State went 12-20 (3-15 Big 12) in 2015-16 and lost in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. With the return of Phil Forte and Jawun Evans to the team, who were both out with injuries, the Cowboys have their top two players back.
"Oklahoma State is a terrific program and Brad Underwood, who came from Stephen F. Austin, is a great coach," said Miller. "With his style of play, it will take a lot of discipline to defend their sets...It will be a great challenge for us."
UConn’s freshmen class will be heavily relied upon in the coming season, as all five players were ranked in the ESPN 100 rankings out of high school. Freshman guard Alterique Gilbert was ranked No. 5 for point guards in the Class of 2016.