Pearl And Tigers Heading To Vegas

K.T. Harrell

Auburn will travel to Las Vegas in November for the MGM Grand Main Event.

One of the things that new Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl wanted to change when he took over the Tigers was to challenge the team to a stronger non-conference schedule. That will happen in year with the Tigers joining Oklahoma State, Oregon State and Tulsa in Las Vegas for the MGM Grand Main Event. All four teams which Auburn will play, which will also include home games against Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Louisiana-Lafayette as a part of the tournament, played in the postseason a year ago.

"There are several NCAA Tournament teams in this field that will challenge us early," Pearl said. "I'm hoping that the MGM Grand and a pre-Thanksgiving tournament will attract Auburn fans to travel out with the team."

Already facing Texas Tech in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Dec. 3, hosting Xavier on Dec. 20, traveling to both Colorado and Clemson, and playing Middle Tennessee, as well, the Tigers will take on Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Nov. 14 and Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov. 21 at home before heading to Las Vegas. Auburn, Oklahoma State, Oregon State and Tulsa will play Nov. 24 and 26 in Las Vegas, with the match-ups yet to be determined.

Oklahoma State went 21-13 last season, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season and the 16th time in the past 24 seasons. Last season the Cowboys averaged 80.2 points per game while allowing just 69.6 ppg. Auburn and Oklahoma State last met in 2006 in the South Padre Invitational at South Padre Island, Texas.

Oregon State will be in its first year under head coach Wayne Tinkle, who took over a team that went 16-16 last season and played in the College Basketball Invitational. Auburn and Oregon State have never faced each other on the hardwood.

Tulsa went 21-13 last season and played in the NCAA Tournament after finishing in a four-way tie for the Conference-USA regular season title and winning the league tournament. Tulsa is under the direction of new head coach Frank Haith, who made the move from Missouri following last season. Auburn is 2-0 all-time against Tulsa, with Auburn defeating the Golden Hurricane, 74-55, in the 2009 NIT.

Auburn will be playing in Las Vegas for the first time since facing UNLV in the Las Vegas Showdown on Dec. 20, 2003.

As part of the tournament, Auburn will open up the 2014 season at home against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Pearl coached the Panthers from 2001-05, taking UWM to its first appearance in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2005. In four years as the head coach at UWM, Pearl and the Panthers won a pair of Horizon League titles (2004, 2005) and two Horizon League Tournaments (2003, 2005). They earned NCAA bids twice and played in the NIT in 2004. UWM went 21-14 last season, winning the Horizon League Tournament and earning the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Auburn will also play host to Louisiana as part of the tournament. The Ragin' Cajuns went 23-12 last season, winning the Sun Belt Championship and playing in the NCAA Tournament. Auburn is 5-3 all-time against ULL, with the last meeting coming in 2000 at Auburn.

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