EL PASO, Texas – The 2017 NCAA Sweet 16 begins Thursday, March 23 with six programs that have played in the Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational in the past.
Purdue, Michigan, Arizona, Baylor, Florida and South Carolina are set to play this weekend with hopes to advance to the 2017 Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Big Dance continues on March 23 with the first games from the Midwest Region bracket. No. 4 seed Purdue takes on No. 1 seed Kansas State. In 1984, Purdue challenged UTEP in the Championship Game of the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational becoming the 24th Champion of the annual Sun City tournament.
Purdue hoping to secure a spot in the Final Four, advanced to the Sweet 16 after defeating Vermont, 80-70 and Iowa State, 80-76.
Michigan is the No. 7 seed out of the Midwest Region bracket and will square up against No. 2 seed Oregon. Michigan is advancing after it was victorious over Oklahoma State, 92-91 and Louisville, 73-69. Michigan traveled to El Paso back in 1978 and 1983 to compete in WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.
Out of the West Region, No. 2 seeded Arizona is set for a showdown with No. 11 seeded Xavier. Arizona is proceeding to the Sweet 16 after a 100-82 win against North Dakota in the first round and a 69-60 victory against St. Mary’s California. Xavier pulled of the upset over No. 3 Florida State in the second round.
“It’s always really interesting to look back and see all the great programs that have come through El Paso,” said Executive Director of the Sun Bowl Association, Bernie Olivas.
In the East Region of the bracket, No. 3 seeded Baylor takes on South Carolina on Friday, March 24. Baylor played in the 1961, 1963 and 1967 WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational and South Carolina played in the 1989 Sun Bowl tournament. Baylor advanced to the Sweet 16 by eliminating New Mexico State 91-73 in the first round of the NCAA tournament and USC 82-78 in the second round.
South Carolina, who played in the 1989 WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, has found itself in the Sweet 16 by beating Marquette 93-73 in round one and upsetting Duke 88-81 in the second round. South Carolina became the 29th WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Champion after battling it out with Kansas State 62-60 in overtime.
Florida is the No. 4 seed out of the East Region in the bracket and faces Wisconsin on March 24. Defeating East Tennessee State 80-65 in round one and Virginia 65-39 in round two, the Gators are hoping to stay hot when they take on the Badgers. Florida made one appearance in WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational in 1992.
Now in its 56th year, the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational is the oldest collegiate holiday basketball tournament in the country. The tournament is held annually at UTEP’s Don Haskins Center.
The 2017 edition is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 21 and Friday, Dec. 22. Teams have yet to be announced.
EL PASO, Texas – The Sun Bowl Association announced on Tuesday, March 7 the extension of its partnership with WestStar Bank as the title sponsor for the Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational through 2019. WestStar Bank originally signed on as the title sponsor in 2009.
“The Sun Bowl Association has built a family of successful and popular events and we’re excited to continue as the title sponsor of the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational,” said L. Frederick “Rick” Francis, WestStar Bank Chairman and CEO. “We’re committed to being associated with many of El Paso’s traditions that have become a part of the fabric of our region. For many, this tournament is that – a holiday tradition – and we’re happy to be able to connect with our local community in this way.”
WestStar Bank and its employees are very involved with and in the community. Employees of WestStar Bank serve on over 95 boards and committees of nonprofit and civic organizations.
“We cannot produce events like the basketball tournament, which has been running since 1961, without great sponsors like WestStar Bank,” said Sun Bowl Association Executive Director Bernie Olivas. “We are extremely grateful for WestStar Bank and everything they have done for the Sun Bowl Association and the City of El Paso. Tournament Chairman Barry Kobren does an amazing job putting everything together and every team that visits El Paso leaves with great memories.”
The WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational is the nation’s oldest collegiate holiday basketball tournament. This year marks the 56th edition of the event that began in 1961, when legendary head coach Don Haskins was in his first year as the head coach at UTEP, then known as Texas Western.
Haskins amassed 719 career wins as the head coach of the Miners for 38 seasons. He led the Miners to the 1966 NCAA title, won seven Western Athletic Conference championships, four WAC tournament titles, had fourteen NCAA tournament berths and made seven trips to the NIT. Haskins engineered 17 20-plus win seasons and served as an assistant Olympic team coach in 1972. He led the Miners to 23 tournament titles in the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.
Haskins was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997 as a basketball coach. The 1966 team was named in its entirety to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Jordan Spieth, who won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Sunday, Feb. 12, was one of 23 players who previously made their way through El Paso playing at the Sun Bowl Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic (SBWRCAAGC).
Spieth, who highlighted his victory with a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop, played in the 2011 SBWRCAAGC at the El Paso Country Club. He closed his 2017 Pebble Beach performance with a 2-under 70 for a four-shot victory over former U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft, a close friend from Dallas who couldn’t get a putt to fall that might have put a little pressure on Spieth.
During the 2011 SBWRCAAGC, Spieth, then a freshman at Texas and Golfweek’s top-ranked player, struggled a bit finishing T-15 with Arkansas’ Austin Cook at 5-over.
“I was able to get out to Pebble Beach for the tournament and it is always great to catch up with some of these guys,” said Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas. “Brandon Hagy, who played in El Paso when he was with California, told me that he still has the boots he got from Lucchese, plus others mentioned they still remember coming to El Paso.”
Dustin Johnson, who finished third in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Sunday, played in El Paso during the 2005 and 2006 SBWRCAAGC. He played for Coastal Carolina at the time and tied for 16th and 23th in respective years.
Brandt Snedeker, another top-five finisher at Pebble Beach this past weekend, played in the 2002 SBWRCAAGC along with J.B. Holmes and Ricky Barnes (Arizona). Snedeker was playing for Vanderbilt and finished in fifth, while Holmes (Kentucky) placed in a tie for eighth.
One name that most golf fans know is Phil Mickleson. He came to El Paso to participate in the SBWRCAAGC in 1989, but withdrew from the tournament during the early rounds of play.
Below is a list of players who have played in the Sun Bowl Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic. The Sun Bowl Western Refining College All-America Golf Classic is one of the premier college golf tournaments in the country. Some of golf’s brightest stars have traveled to El Paso to compete in the tournament since its inaugural year in 1976. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Ricky Barnes and Jerry Pate are just a handful of past participants who went on to have successful PGA careers.
Place at Pebble Beach – Player – School – Year played in SBWRCAAGC
1st – Jordan Spieth – Texas-2011
3rd – Dustin Johnson –Coastal Carolina- 2005, 2006
4th – Brandt Snedeker- Vanderbilt- 2002
T10th – Nick Taylor-Washington-2008, 2009
T10th- Kevin Kisner- Georgia- 2004
T14th- Scott Stallings- Tennessee Tech- 2006
T14th- Nick Watney- Fresno State- 2001
T23rd – J.B. (John) Holmes- Kentucky-2002
T23rd – Derek Fathauer- Louisville-2007
T33rd – Tag Ridings-Arkansas-1996
T33rd – Brandon Hagy-Califonia-2012
T39th – Tom Hoge- TCU- 2009
T39th – Henrik Norlander- Augusta State-2008, 2010
T39th – Chris Kirk- Georgia- 2005, 2006
T48th – Zac Blair- BYU-2015
T48th – Rory Sabbatini- Arizona-1995, 1997
T48th – Ricky Barnes- Arizona-2000, 2001, 2002
T48th – Kevin Tway- Oklahoma State- 2009, 2010
T48th – Kevin Chappell- UCLA- 20071011
55th – Stewart Cink- Georgia Tech- 1993
58th – Jonas Blixt- Florida State- 2007
62nd – Scott Langley- Illinois-2009, 2010
65th – Phil Mickelson- Arizona State- 1989
EL PASO, Texas – The National Football League (NFL) Pro Bowl has come and gone while Super Bowl LI is set to be played, Sunday, Feb. 5 in Houston with many former Sun Bowl participants making a name for themselves at the highest level possible.
There were 12 former Sun Bowl partakers who saw action in the 2017 Pro Bowl, which was played in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 30. One of the most notable names to see some action was Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman, who played for Stanford in the 2009 Sun Bowl versus Oklahoma. Sherman tallied eight tackles and one pass break up in the 31-27 loss to the Sooners.
In the second quarter of the Pro Bowl that ended with the AFC winning 20-13, the Seattle Seahawks cornerback intercepted an Andy Dalton pass that was intended for Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. It was a play that made a statement with highlights available online at ESPN.com.
“It’s always interesting during this time of year to see the players that came to El Paso and played in front of our fans make it to the highest level of play,” said Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas. “I think fans get excited knowing that players such as Richard Sherman and DeMarco Murry, who played in the Pro Bowl and players such as running back D.J. Foster of the Patriots, who played with Arizona State just a couple years back, were here in El Paso.”
Foster played with the Sun Devils in the 2014 Sun Bowl helping his team to an exciting 36-31 win over Duke. Foster is the backup running back for New England and is averaging 3.4 yards a carry. Atlanta Falcons tight end Levine Tiololo played in the 2009 Sun Bowl for Oklahoma helping the Sooners to a victory in El Paso. He has three catches for 31 yards this postseason.
The Super Bowl is set for a 4:30 p.m. (MT) start, Sunday, Feb. 5, at NRG Stadium in Houston with TV coverage on FOX.
• David DeCastro, OL (Pittsburgh Steelers) – played in the 2009 Sun Bowl with Stanford
• DeMarco Murry, RB (Titans) – played in the 2009 Sun Bowl with Oklahoma
• Leonard Williams, DE (Jets) – played in the 2012 Sun Bowl with Georgia Tech
• Zack Martin, OL (Dallas Cowboys) – played in 2010 Sun Bowl with Notre Dame
• Trent Williams, OL (Washington Redskins) – played in 2009 Sun Bowl with Oklahoma
• Johnny Hekker, Punter (Los Angeles Rams) – played in 2008 Sun Bowl with Oregon State; won the John H. Folmer Trophy after being named the Sun Bowl Special Teams MVP
• Harrison Smith, Safety (Minnesota Vikings) – played in 2010 Sun Bowl with Notre Dame
• Anthony Barr, LB (Minnesota Vikings) – played in 2013 Sun Bowl with UCLA
• Doug Baldwin, WR (Seattle Seahawks) – played in the 2009 Sun Bowl with Stanford
• Cliff Avril, DE (Seattle Seahawks) – played in the 2004 Sun Bowl with Purdue
• Richard Sherman, CB (Seattle Seahawks) – played in the 2009 Sun Bowl with Stanford
• Gerald McCoy, DT (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – played in the 2009 Sun Bowl with Oklahoma
*this list does not include all players selected to the Pro Bowl; only those who played in the Pro Bowl
New England Patriots
• D.J Foster; RB – played in the 2014 Sun Bowl with Arizona State
• Shaquille Mason, OL – played in the 2011 Sun Bowl with Georgia Tech
• Eric Rowe, DB – played in the 2011 Sun Bowl with Utah
• Jabaal Sheard, DL – played in the 2008 Sun Bowl with Pittsburgh
• Matthew Slater, WR – played in the 2005 Sun Bowl with UCLA
• Levine Toilolo, TE – played in the 2009 Sun Bowl with Oklahoma
• Matt Bosher, P – played in the 2010 Sun Bowl with Miami
• Andy Levitre, G – Played in the 2006 and 2008 Sun Bowls with Oregon State
EL PASO, Texas – It took almost every second of the 60 minutes played to determine the winner of the 83rd Hyundai Sun Bowl as two storied universities, Stanford and North Carolina, fought down to the wire before the 16th-ranked Cardinal eventually prevailed 25-23 over the Tar Heels in front of 42,166 fans.
UNC (8-5) trailed by eight with 1:34 left in the game and had to drive 97 yards to try and tie the game after a Stanford (10-3) punt pinned them at the 3-yard line. Tar Heel quarterback Mitch Trubisky showed why he is considered one of the top quarterback prospects for the NFL, bouncing back from three previous turnovers to lead UNC down the field on that final drive.
Trubisky began the drive with a 13-yard completion to All-ACC first teamer Ryan Switzer. The big pass play came a few plays later after Trubisky hit his big 6-5 target Bug Howard down the sideline for a 44-yard completion that took the ball from the UNC 28-yard line to the Stanford 28-yard line.
Once again it was Switzer and Howard that would wrap up the drive as a 27-yard completion to Switzer placed the ball at the 1-yard line with just over 30 seconds remaining. After a run that lost a yard and an incomplete pass, Trubisky seemed to be in trouble on third down but somehow escaped, scrambled and eventually found Howard in the end zone with 25 seconds left to get within a two-point conversion of tying the game.
But the biggest name on the Cardinal defense came up big during the two-point conversion as defensive end and eventual C.M. Hendricks MVP award winner Solomon Thomas sliced through the Tar Heel offensive line and got to Trubisky before he had a chance to get a pass off. A failed onside kick would close UNC’s chances and give Stanford its third Sun Bowl victory and first in 20 years.
The future NFL prospect Thomas finished with seven tackles, two for losses, a sack and the biggest play of the game. He is the first defensive player to win the Sun Bowl MVP since UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt was named Co-MVP in 2013 and the first defensive lineman to win the award since Oregon State’s Victor Butler won the award in 2008.
Trubisky finished 23-of-39 for 280 yards but had three costly turnovers including two interceptions and a fumble. On the Stanford side, senior quarterback Ryan Burns relieved starter Keller Chryst after he got injured in the first quarter. Burns finished 6-of-12 for 86 yards. Leading the charge for the Cardinal was running back Bryce Love, who was playing in place of Stanford’s All-American Christian McCaffrey. Love finished with 119 yards on the ground on 21 carries including a career-high 59-yard romp. He also caught a 49-yard touchdown pass.
The Tar Heels would take an early 7-0 lead, only to see the Cardinal mark 16-straight points, mainly off the leg of place kicker Conrad Ukropina who tied a Sun Bowl record with four field goals in the game en route to being named the John Folmer Most Valuable Special Teams Player.
The Tar Heels struck first to open the scoring. After holding the Cardinal to a three-and-out on their first possession, Trubisky led UNC on a 10-play, 71-yard drive that culminated with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Trubisky to Switzer. The touchdown connection was Trubisky’s 29th passing touchdown of the season, a new school record.
The rest of the first-half scoring, however, belonged to the team from the Pac-12 as Stanford would rally for the final 13 points of the first stanza. The Cardinal immediately evened the score following the Tar Heel touchdown drive with a quick touchdown drive of their own.
The drive, which only took six plays and less than three minutes, culminated with a 49-yard touchdown pass Chryst to Love. Love’s first touchdown reception of the season knotted the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
Stanford then had an eventful third possession that started around midfield after a UNC three-and-out. After an early personal foul flag for a late hit against the Tar Heels, the Cardinal seemed to have their second-straight touchdown after Chryst hit JJ Arcega-Whiteside in the corner of the end zone for an apparent 27-yard score. The called was looked at and after further review it was determined that the ball hit the ground before the catch, thus negating the score.
On the next play from scrimmage, Chryst ran down the field on a quarterback keeper, but did not get up after the tackle. He had to be helped off the field with an apparent knee injury and would not return to the game. Burns, who started the first seven games of the season for Stanford, would play the rest of the game.
Burns gained positive yardage on his first play from scrimmage, but a delay of game penalty and a sack would stall the drive. The Cardinal would have to settle for a Ukropina 44-yard field goal a few plays into the second quarter that would give them their first lead of the game.
On UNC’s following possession, Trubisky would have his first turnover as Stanford’s Dallas Lloyd intercepted a pass and returned it 45 yards to the Tar Heel 35-yard line. However, the Cardinal could not move the ball and came away empty after Ukropina missed on a 36-yard attempt that hit the left upright.
Ukropina would redeem himself, however, after Trubisky fumbled the ball after apparently running into an official with under two minutes left in the half. Ukropina nailed a 33-yarder, his school record 20th of the season, as Stanford led 13-7 at the half.
UNC kicker Nick Weiler tried to cut into the Cardinal lead during the first possession of the second half, but his 51-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left. The middle portion of the third quarter saw the teams add a field goal to their score as Ukropina hit a 43-yard field goal and Weiler redeemed himself with a 37-yarder.
Down six, the Tar Heels turned to senior running back T. J. Logan to help them regain the lead. Logan’s running led a 9-play, 68-yard drive that culminated in a 5-yard touchdown run by freshman Jordan Brown, his first career touchdown. UNC regained the lead 17-16 with just over two minutes left in the third.
Lloyd once again came up big for Stanford a couple of plays into the fourth quarter as the senior safety once again intercepted a Trubisky pass, this time running it back 19 yards for a pick-six that once again gave the Cardinal the lead, this time at 22-17 after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
Ukropina’s record-tying fourth field goal with 3:23 left gave Stanford a 25-17 lead that set up the game’s final dramatic moments.
Stanford has now won its last three bowl games and finishes the season on a six-game winning streak. The Tar Heels, on the other hand, finish the season losing two of three and have lost three-straight bowl games.