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Bearcat men to open basketball season in Alaska

Binghamton University men’s basketball will open its 2003-04 season at the Eighth Annual Top of the World Classic, November 20-23, in Fairbanks, Alaska. The tournament, hosted by the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, features eight teams and 12 games over four days.

The Bearcats will start off November 21 at 10 p.m. ET with a game against the Gaels of St. Mary’s. The California team went 15-15 last season, including a 6-8 mark in the West Coast Conference. The Gaels feature 6-foot-10 sophomore Daniel Kickert of Melbourne, Australia, who leads St. Mary’s with 12.7 points per game.

“St. Mary’s is one of the better teams in the tournament,” head coach Al Walker said. “We anticipate an extremely competitive and exciting game to kick off the season, and hopefully that tournament will give us a chance to see where we’re at and where we need to go.”

Aside from the host Nanooks, who went 20-8 and advanced to the NCAA Division II tournament, the 2003 classic includes Rice University, Idaho State, Texas-San Antonio, Washington State and Virginia Military Institute. Binghamton will play either Rice or Idaho State in Saturday’s second round. In addition, former BU center Ezenwa Ukeagu is on the roster for Washington State.

“It’s a great opportunity for our program to compete in a national field at an elite certified event,” Walker said. “It’s special for us, and exceptionally special for Nick Billings to go home and play in front of family and friends.”

Billings, from Kodiak, Alaska, ranked second in the nation in blocks (4.3) as a sophomore. He was chosen as America East Defender of the Year after leading BU to a 14-13 record (9-7 in AE) and fourth-place conference finish.

Fairbanks won the title last season, topping a strong field that included Ball State and NCAA tournament team Weber State. It was the first TOWC title for the Division II Nanooks.

The tournament games will be played at UAF’s 4,901-seat Carlson Center.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08