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Neal Takes Part in MGM Grand Showcase Press Conference
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  07/24/2013
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

July 24, 2013

Las Vegas, Nev. - Four Top 25 college basketball programs will be on display at MGM Grand (www.mgmgrand.com) in Las Vegas Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 in an inaugural nationally televised doubleheader. The MGM Grand Showcase will feature Marquette vs. New Mexico and Oklahoma State vs. Colorado at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with the games benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer, an initiative spearheaded by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (www.nabc.com) and the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org).

bd Global, LLC, a Lexington, Ky.-based sports marketing firm, has signed an exclusive three-year contract with MGM Grand to provide college basketball content. The Showcase is the first of several new regular season college basketball events at MGM Grand over the next few seasons. In 2012, the resort played host to the Holiday Hoops Classic and this past March partnered with the Pac-12 Conference to become its new home for the annual Pac-12 Men's Basketball Tournament.

The MGM Grand Showcase tips with reigning Mountain West champion New Mexico taking on Marquette at 7:00 p.m. MT in the opener, televised live on ESPNU to over 70 million homes, as well as ESPN3. All-American Marcus Smart then leads Oklahoma State against Colorado at 9:30 p.m. MT, which will be broadcast on ESPN2. The two games will be played at the 16,800-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena, home of the biggest names in sports and entertainment including many of boxing's premier championship bouts over the past two decades.

"Many thanks to MGM Grand for its commitment to helping us launch this annual event benefitting a cause that college basketball passionately supports," said Brooks Downing, president of bd Global (www.bdglobalsports.com), the event promoter. "With four of the nation's top teams for next season, it will definitely have a March Madness atmosphere that day at MGM Grand."

New Mexico returns to Las Vegas after winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament at UNLV last March. The Lobos, coming off a 29-6 season, return four starters for new head coach Craig Neal. Senior guard and Mountain West Player of the Year Kendall Williams led the team in scoring last season at 13.3 points per game and junior center Alex Kirk (a USA Basketball member) averaged 12.1 per contest to go along with 8.1 rebounds.

Coach Buzz Williams has Marquette primed for another strong year following last season's run to the Elite Eight. The Golden Eagles captured a share of the Big East regular season title in 2012-13 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament East Regional Final before falling to Syracuse. MU will be led by 6-8, 290 lb. Davante Gardner, a senior forward that averaged 11.5 points and 4.8 rebounds last year.

Oklahoma State and head coach Travis Ford received an unexpected boost when Smart, a National Player of the Year candidate, opted to return for his sophomore season despite being an expected top-five selection in the NBA Draft. He will lead a Cowboys team that went 24-9 last season and returns three other starters, including standout Le'Bryan Nash.

Colorado head coach Tad Boyle has quickly positioned his Buffs among the elite of the Pac-12 with back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances since moving to the league in 2011. CU returns four starters from a team that won 21 games a year ago, including Spencer Dinwiddie (15.3 points, 3.0 assists) and Askia Booker (12.4 points, 3.5 rebounds).

A portion of every ticket sold for the MGM Grand Showcase will directly benefit Coaches vs. Cancer. The program provides critical mission outreach while raising funds in support of the American Cancer Society's lifesaving efforts to help people stay well and get well, fund groundbreaking research into cancer's causes and cures, and fight back through legislative action at the local, state, and national levels. Since 1993, high school and college coaches across the country have raised more than $87 million to support the American Cancer Society's fight against cancer.

Reggie Minton, NABC deputy executive director, said, "Our NABC coaches have championed the Coaches vs. Cancer program for 20 years now. We are very appreciative for the support we receive for this initiative in the hope of finding a cure for cancer."

Tickets ranging from $30 - $250 (courtside seating), not including applicable service charges and taxes, go on sale Thursday, July 25 at 10 a.m. and will be sold at all Las Vegas Ticketmaster locations (select Smith's Food and Drug Centers and Ritmo Latino). Ticket sales are limited to eight (8) per person. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Tickets also are available for purchase at www.mgmgrand.com or www.ticketmaster.com.

Complete event information can be found at wwwmgmgrandshowcase.com. For group sales or sponsorship opportunities, interested parties should contact bd Global at 859-951-6141.

About bd Global:
bd Global, LLC is a representation, event management, and public relations firm operating on an international platform within the vast industry of sports marketing. bdG manages multiple college basketball events in the United States each season, and previously has managed events across North America and the Caribbean, including college basketball events in Phoenix, Boston, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Dallas and Houston. bdG represents a number of major college basketball coaches including Indiana's Tom Crean, Western Kentucky's Ray Harper, UNC Wilmington's Buzz Peterson and Morehead State's Sean Woods. www.bdglobalsports.com.

About MGM Grand Garden Arena:
The MGM Grand Garden Arena is home to concerts, championship boxing and premier sporting and special events. The Arena offers comfortable seating for as many as 16,800 with excellent sightlines and state-of-the-art acoustics, lighting and sound. Prominent events to date have included world championship fights between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson as well as Oscar de la Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez; and concerts by The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Bette Midler, George Strait, Janet Jackson, Phil Collins, Billy Joel, U2, Lady Gaga, Sting, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Jimmy Buffett and the Barbra Streisand Millennium Concert. The MGM Grand Garden Arena also is home to the annual shows including Academy of Country Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, iHeartRadio Music Festival and the Frozen Fury NHL pre-season game which features the Los Angeles Kings vs. Colorado Avalanche.

About Coaches vs. Cancer:
The Coaches vs. Cancer program empowers coaches, their teams, and communities to join the fight against cancer by participating in awareness efforts, advocacy programs, and fundraising activities. Guided by the Coaches vs. Cancer Council, participating coaches help people with cancer today and to find cures to end the disease tomorrow, and have raised more than $87 million to help the American Cancer Society's mission.

MGM GRAND SHOWCASE
Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013
MGM Grand Garden Arena | Las Vegas
Marquette vs. New Mexico - 7:00 p.m. MT (ESPNU)
Oklahoma State vs. Colorado - 9:30 p.m. MT (ESPN2)

TICKET INFORMATION
Tickets go on sale Thursday, July 25 at 10 a.m. PT at MGMGrand.com, Ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster locations or by calling 800-745-3000

Tickets priced at $250, $125, $75, $50, $30

Complete event and ticket information can be found at www.mgmgrandshowcase.com

QUOTES FROM PRESS CONFERENCE ANNOUNCING MGM GRAND SHOWCASE

MGM Grand president Scott Sibella:
"This is a great day for the MGM. As you know, the MGM is known for hosting the best and biggest events ever. Now we are excited to host college basketball. We have a great line-up and I think this is just the beginning of many great things within college basketball for us."

Marquette head coach Buzz Williams:
"Our entire program is excited about the opportunity to compete in Las Vegas and is honored by the invitation to participate in the event at the MGM Grand. In regards to our game against New Mexico, we are going to face one of the top teams in the nation and it's going to be a tough challenge from start to finish."

New Mexico head coach Craig Neal
"Las Vegas has been really good to us and we appreciate the opportunity to come play here again. We have a really good team coming back and I'm excited about playing a great team led by a friend of mine in Buzz Williams."

Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford:
"I can't think of a better place to be on Dec. 21. This will be a hotbed for basketball on that day with four teams that will be Top-20. We have some very good players coming back but it's going to be a great battle with our old Big 12 foe in Colorado."

"Our fans are excited about coming out here and I think is the start of something very special for MGM Grand and college basketball."

Colorado head coach Tad Boyle:
"This is a great opportunity. Our relationship as a Pac-12 member with the MGM Grand makes this great for us. We have four starters coming back but will still be very young. It's going to be a great night for college basketball in December."

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