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Pairings Announced for Corpus Christi Challenge

August 07, 2013
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Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Tournament organizers announced Wednesday the pairings for the final two rounds of the inaugural Corpus Christi Challenge, which will conclude Thanksgiving weekend at Corpus Christi’s American Bank Center.  Joining Texas A&M in the field at the event will be Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Hampton, Liberty, Missouri State, Sam Houston State, SMU and Virginia.

To kick off the event, Texas A&M will host a pair of games inside the friendly confines of Reed Arena. The Aggies welcome Sam Houston State to Aggieland on Nov. 24 before returning to action on their home court against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 26.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend the scene shifts to Corpus Christi’s American Bank Center where Texas A&M will face Missouri State on Nov. 29 at 6:30 p.m. Depending on the outcome of their contest with Bears, the Aggies will face either the winner or the loser of the previous day’s Virginia/SMU tilt on Nov. 30. Both of Texas A&M’s games at Corpus Christi will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

2013 Corpus Christi Challenge Schedule
Nov. 24 – Reed Arena (College Station)
Texas A&M vs. Sam Houston State

Nov. 26 – Reed Arena (College Station)
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas Pine-Bluff

Nov. 29 - American Bank Center (Corpus Christi)
1:00 PM -- Liberty  vs. Hampton     
3:30 PM -- Sam Houston State  vs. Arkansas-Pine BLuff
6:30 PM -- Virginia  vs. SMU  (CBS Sports Network)
9:00 PM -- Texas A&M  vs. Missouri State (CBS Sports Network)

Nov. 30 - American Bank Center (Corpus Christi)
12:00 PM -- Loser LU/HU  vs. Loser SHU/UAPB
2:30 PM -- Winner LU/HU  vs. Winner SHU/UAPB
5:30 PM -- Loser TAMU/MSU  vs. Loser UVA/SMU  (CBS Sports Network)
8:00 PM -- Winner TAMU/MSU  vs. Winner UVA/SMU  (CBS Sports Network)

The Aggies enter their third season under the direction of head coach Billy Kennedy and feature a young, talented roster led by three returning starters including upperclassmen Fabyon Harris (senior guard) and Kourtney Roberson (junior forward). A year ago, Harris ranked among the SEC leaders in 3-point field goal shooting at 45.3 percent while Roberson paced the Aggies and ranked eighth in the league by averaging 6.6 rebounds per contest. Additionally, the maroon and white feature two local standout sophomores Alex Caruso (College Station, Texas) and J-Mychal Reese (Bryan, Texas) looking to a step forward during their second year on campus. Caruso led the team in assists with 112 and set the A&M record for steals by a freshman with 61 a year ago, while Reese made a freshman-high 25 starts as a rookie last season. Joining the solid core of returners are an impressive slew of newcomers led by 6-foot-8 junior college transfer guard Jamal Jones (Searcy, Ark.) and 6-foot-7 freshman guard/forward Davonte Fitzgerald (Tucker, Ga.)

Virginia returns 11 letterwinners, including its top five scorers from last season's team, which finished with a 23-12 record and advanced to the NIT quarterfinals. All-ACC performers Joe Harris (Chelan, Wash.) and Akil Mitchell (Charlotte, N.C.) lead the way after enjoying breakout seasons a year ago. Harris earned All-ACC first-team honors after averaging a career-high 16.3 points, including a career-high 36 in a win against Duke. Mitchell was named to the All-ACC third team after averaging 13.1 points and a team-leading 8.9 rebounds. Sophomores Justin Anderson (Montross, Va.) and Mike Tobey (Monroe, NY) also return after seeing valuable action as rookies in 2012-13. Anderson averaged a team-leading 19 points during UVa's three NIT games, while Tobey helped Team USA to the gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championships this past summer. Redshirt sophomores Malcolm Brogdon (Norcross, Va.) and Anthony Gill (Charlotte, N.C.) bolster the Cavalier attack after sitting out last season. Brogdon averaged 6.7 points and 2.8 rebounds as a freshman for Virginia in 2011-12, while Gill averaged 7.6 points and 4.7 rebounds for South Carolina in 2011-12.   Fifth-year head coach Tony Bennett, the 2007 National Coach of the Year, has a 76-53 record at Virginia. He has increased Virginia's win total in each of the last four seasons and led the Cavaliers to the postseason in each of the last two seasons.

SMU enters its second season under Hall of Fame head coach Larry Brown. The 2013-14 Mustangs return all five starters while adding the No. 14 ranked recruiting class and three transfers that sat out last season. SMU will also open the renovated and expanded Moody Coliseum during the season, which is its first in the American Athletic Conference. The Mustangs went 15-17 last year with Cannen Cunningham, Jalen Jones, Ryan Manuel, Nick Russell, and Shawn Williams starting the entire season. They are joined by transfers Nic Moore (from Illinois State), Markus Kennedy (from Villanova) and Crandall Head (from Illinois). The recruiting class that is ranked as high as No. 14 includes McDonald's All-American Keith Frazier, the nation's top junior college prospect in Yanick Moreira, and a pair of Illinois' Mr. Basketball finalists from the Chicago area in Sterling Brown and Ben Moore.

Missouri State head coach Paul Lusk returns four starters and eight lettermen as he begins his third season directing the Bears. He inherited a program that was coming off its first Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title in 2011, and Lusk spent much of last season rebuilding the program tradition with a solid crop of freshmen. MSU’s six freshmen accounted for 43.5 percent of the team’s scoring in 2012-13, including Valley Freshman of the Year Marcus Marshall (6-3, G, St. Paul, Minn., 11.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.1 apg) who broke the club’s freshman scoring mark with 368 points. The Bears have added three more freshmen and a pair of transfers to their arsenal this winter and also will see the return of 2012 starter Jarmar Gulley (6-5, F, Beaumont, Texas, 10.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg) who missed last season with a torn ACL.

Each team will play four games-the first two at campus sites and the final two rounds at the beautiful American Bank Center in Corpus Christi on November 29th & 30th.

Tickets for the final rounds in Corpus Christi can be purchased by visiting Ticketmaster.com or purchase by phone by dialing 1-800-745-3000.  For ADA seating please call 361-826-4170.  They can also purchase tickets by visiting a Ticketmaster outlet located at participating HEB stores.

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