The Tigers ended up 16-15 overall last season and weren’t as consistent offensively as they wanted (.428 shooting from the field), but the roster returns three starters in John Newman III, Al-Amir Dawes and Aamir Simms, the latter who had team-high averages of 13 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Clemson had several highlight moments last year, including victories over top-10 opponents Duke, Louisville and Florida State and breaking an 0-for-59 losing streak at North Carolina. Head coach Brad Brownell earned praise for his incoming freshman class that includes three players arguably in the national top 100, including Lynn Kidd and PJ Hall, both of whom are 6-foot-10.
Aventus Health, based in Orlando, FL., has been tabbed by event officials to handle daily COVID-19 testing for the Space Coast Challenge, a men’s D-I college basketball tournament set for Nov. 25-26 in Melbourne, FL.
Aventus Health started operations in 2015 in the Orlando area, founded by Dr. Nagi Youssef and his son, Oliver Dawoud. Their extensive background in healthcare became the foundation for Aventus Biolabs, which offered many specialty services in multiple locations and positioned itself as a premier full-service laboratory.
Pivoting quickly to COVID-19 concerns when the pandemic struck, Aventus has been helping multiple enterprises with testing, including the WNBA, WWE, Major League Soccer, the University of Central Florida, the Orlando City Soccer Club, Full Sail University and Nemours Hospital.
“As an avid sports fan myself, I feel honored and proud to be able to provide peace of mind and comfort through Aventus Health’s COVID-19 testing program to various sport leagues. I felt like Aventus had a duty to contribute in bringing back the sports we love to watch as fans, along with being an essential piece of the puzzle to allowing teams and players to play the sport they love to play,” said Dawoud, CEO of Aventus Health. “This pandemic has left the country with a sense of uncertainty and doubt — it is my hope that the tremendous effort of my company and the dedication of our team has helped to bring certainty and confidence back to the community. It is my goal to continue to expand the breadth of these services to augment the hope and safety of our local, state and national families.”
Players, coaches, tournament staff and game officials will be subject to daily testing for the Space Coast Challenge, which will not include any attendance for fans.
“Even though we’ve had to deal with fast-changing circumstances and a lot of unknowns, Aventus Health has been an informed and prepared partner from the minute we targeted Florida as our tournament location,” said men’s event director Sarah Sullivan. “We feel confident that everyone’s personal safety will remain the highest priority at the Space Coast Challenge.”
Games will be played at Titan Field House on the campus of Eastern Florida State College:
Wednesday, Nov. 25
Liberty vs. Purdue, 6 p.m. ET
Clemson vs. Mississippi State, 8:30 p.m. ET
Thursday, Nov. 26
Third Place Game, 6 p.m. ET
Championship Game, 8:30 p.m. ET
Visit the Aventus Health website: CLICK HERE
The Boilermakers do not have a single senior on the roster, one year after going 16-15 overall, shooting under 42 percent from the field and losing more home games (five) than in the previous four years combined. While a sea of young players vie for playing time, Purdue will lean on 6-10 forward Trevion Williams, who led the team with 11.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Head coach Matt Painter guided the squad last year to three victories of 25 or more points over three top 25 teams (Virginia, Michigan State and Iowa), the first time a team managed that feat since Florida in 1999-2000.
The Flames had to be one of the most disappointed teams to miss out on the 2020 men’s postseason, as they had a 30-4 record and were Atlantic Sun Conference tourney champions. Head coach Ritchie McKay has earned two contract extensions since his return to Liberty (he was head coach as well from 2007-09) and has steered the program to four straight seasons with 20 or more victories. The team outscored opponents by almost 15 points per game last year, but the roster is now without its top three scorers from 2019-20. It’s possible that two sophomores will be become starters for Liberty as the team reloads; it does return junior guard Darius McGhee, who started all 34 games last year and shot right at 39 percent from 3-point range while averaging nearly 10 points per contest.
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing changes throughout college basketball, Triple Crown Sports has officially cancelled the 2020 Cancun Challenge and in its place will run the Space Coast Challenge, set for Nov. 25-26, 2020.
The men’s field consists of Clemson, Liberty, Mississippi State and Purdue; games will be played at Titan Field House, located on the campus of Eastern Florida State College in Melbourne, FL.
Here’s the schedule (all games televised by CBS Sports Network):
Wednesday, Nov. 25
Liberty vs. Purdue, 5:30 p.m. ET
Clemson vs. Mississippi State, 8:00 p.m. ET
Thursday, Nov. 26
Third place game, 6 p.m. ET
Championship game, 8:30 p.m. ET
No fans are being allowed to attend the games, 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.”
Purdue beat Auburn to win the championship game of the 2016 Cancun Challenge; this also marks the second appearance for Liberty in Triple Crown’s Thanksgiving event, as the Flames played in Mexico in 2014.
Follow the action at the Space Coast Challenge on the event website, which includes schedule information, live stats and recaps: www.spacecoasthoops.com or follow the event on Twitter @SpaceCoastHoops.