Credit Source: Purdue University Athletics
Boilermakers Head to Florida for Thanksgiving
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue men’s basketball team will travel to Florida over Thanksgiving break to compete in the Space Coast Challenge, replacing the Cancun Challenge, Triple Crown Sports announced today.
Per tournament regulations, no fans will be allowed in venue.
The tournament begins Wednesday, Nov. 25, in Melbourne, Florida, with Purdue taking on Liberty at 6 p.m. ET. That will be followed by Clemson and Mississippi State at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Thanksgiving slate will feature the third-place game at 6 p.m., followed by the championship game at 8:30 p.m. All four games will be televised by the CBS Sports Network.
Purdue is looking for its first tournament title since the 2016 Cancun Challenge and the Boilermakers own a 19-5 record in regular-season tournaments since the 2014-15 season (six events).
This will be the first meeting with Liberty, who owned a 30-4 record last season and was one of the nation’s most-statistical elite teams. The Flames ranked in the nation’s top 50 in nine statistical categories and led the country in turnovers per game (9.4). Their defense ranked second nationally in scoring defense (53.8) and they were 11th nationally in field goal percentage defense (.387) and 12th in field goal percentage on the offensive end (.479).
However, the Flames lost four of their top five scorers from last year and return just four players that played at least 30 games. Leading the returnees is 5-foot, 9-inch guard Darius McGhee (9.5 PPG, 68-of-176 3-pointers) and guard Elijah Cuffee (7.0 PPG, 2.3 APG).
Clemson posted a 16-15 record last year but welcomes back four of its top five scorers from last year, including double-figure scorers Aamir Simms (13.0 PPG, 7.2 RPG) and Tevin Mack (12.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG). Clemson leads the all-time series with Purdue by a 3-2 margin. The Boilermakers and Tigers last met in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge in 2012, with Purdue coming out on top 73-61.
Mississippi State went 20-11 last year, including 11-7 in the SEC Conference, but loses its top four scorers from a year ago. D.J. Stewart Jr., is the Bulldogs’ leading returning scorer at 8.5 points per contest and Iverson Molinar comes back after averaging 5.9 points per outing.