Clemson, Purdue, Liberty and Mississippi State will play in tournament at Titan Field House
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Eastern Florida State College will host the Space Coast Challenge, an NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament on Nov. 25-26.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the 2020 Cancun Challenge to be canceled and Triple Crown Sports has announced that Clemson, Purdue, Liberty, and Mississippi State will play a tournament at Titan Field House in Melbourne.
“We are very excited to host this tournament with some really good teams and some really strong coaches,” Eastern Florida State College Associate Vice President of Athletics Jeff Carr said.
“We hope it is just the beginning of a relationship with Triple Crown Promotions to possibly host this event every year at Eastern Florida.”
Purdue and Liberty are both receiving votes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll that was released on Monday.
The Boilermakers, who lost to the eventual national champion in the Elite Eight in 2019 and were 16-15 last season and in the final 2020 AP Top 25 Poll before the pandemic canceled the season.
Forward Trevion Williams returns to Purdue after averaging 11.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in just 21.4 minutes. He was the only player in America to average 11.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in under 22.0 minutes per contest.
In a January loss to Michigan a year ago, Williams posted 36 points and 20 rebounds, the nation’s lone 30-20 game last season.
Liberty has won the ASUN the first two seasons and made the NCAA Division I Tournament in 2019 and was 30-4 when the season ended in 2020.
Elijah Cuffee was named the preseason conference defensive player of the year, leading a defense that ranked No. 2 in the country in scoring defense last season, allowing just 53.7 points per game.
The senior spearheaded a defense that held 14 opponents to under 50 points last season. Teammate Darius McGhee is entering his third season with the Flames and has scored 602 points and started in all 34 games last season.
Clemson is coming off a solid 16-15 season and has a trio of seniors returning to lead the Tigers in 2020.
Aamir Simms averaged 13 points and seven rebounds last season as the power forward led the team in points, rebounds, assists (78) and blocks (23).
He was recently named to the 2021 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year watch list.
Mississippi State has three straight 20-win seasons and head into the tournament with three returning players along with three talented transfers.
Forward Abdul Ado has scored over 600 points in his first three seasons with the Bulldogs, while Iverson Molinar and D.J. Stewart Jr. are beginning their second seasons with Mississippi State.
No fans are being allowed to attend the games at Titan Field House, as tournament officials have established a series of protocols (including daily COVID-19 testing) to protect the health of those players, coaches, officials, and staff attending the Space Coast Challenge.
“I am grateful for our teams, their support, their collaboration, and especially their communication. Re-imagining how this event might look for 2020 required patience from our event partners, and we’re thrilled to have games on the horizon,” said men’s event director Sarah Sullivan.
“I know it has been difficult to plan, and those plans have changed a million times, but our facility, hotels, restaurants, tourism/community, and medical partners have all stuck by us and worked daily to get everything figured out.”