Pairings set for San Juan Shootout

NCAA Tournament second-round qualifier Mississippi State and Clemson of the Atlantic Coast Conference headline the field for the 2005 edition of the San Juan Shootout.

The event, which will be held Dec. 19-21 at the Guillermo Angulo Coliseum in Carolina, Puerto Rico, will also include 2004 NCAA Tournament qualifier Tennessee-Chattanooga and second round NIT performer Holy Cross, along with Akron, Liberty, Mount St. Mary's, and the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.

Clemson will open the 18th annual tournament when it plays local favorite UPR-Mayaguez at 3:00 p.m. on Monday (Dec. 19). The Tigers, under the direction of head coach Oliver Purnell, finished the 2004-05 season with a 16-15 mark, which included an appearance in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). The Tigers return three starters from last year's squad including backcourt mates Shawan Robinson and Cliff Hammonds. UPR-Mayaguez is an official NCAA Division II member which plays a full-slate of contests versus American DI and DII schools.

The tournament's second first-round game features a pair of 2004-05 postseason squads as Holy Cross will face UTC at 5:00 p.m. Holy Cross returns Patriot League Player of the Year Kevin Hamilton from last year's team which won 25 games and won at Notre Dame in the first-round of the NIT. Under the direction of head coach Ralph Willard, Holy Cross has advanced to three of the last five NCAA Tournaments. The Mocs of UTC finished last season 19-10 in John Shulman's first season, one which included a Southern Conference Tournament championship and NCAA Tournament berth.

Akron of the Mid-American Conference and Mount St. Mary's of the Northeast Conference will square off in the third game which is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. The Zips of Akron return four starters from last season's 19-10 team, including leading scorer Darryl Peterson. Head coach Keith Dambrot is in his second year at Akron after finishing the 2004-05 league season with an 11-7 league mark. The Mountaineers of Mt. St. Mary's return four starters from a year ago as head coach Milan Brown looks to improve upon last year's 7-20 overall mark.

Southeastern Conference member Mississippi State University headlines the day's final matchup as the Bulldogs will face Liberty in the 9:00 p.m. finale. MSU has reached the postseason five consecutive seasons under head coach Rick Stansbury, including a 23-win season last year and a second-round NCAA Tournament showing. The Flames of Liberty finished last season 13-15 overall, which included an 11-5 mark in Big South Conference play. Liberty returns three starters from last year, including leading scorer Larry Blair. The Flames are coached by fourth-year head man Randy Dunton.

Clemson, UTC, and Mississippi State will be making their second appearances in the San Juan Shootout while Holy Cross, Akron, Liberty, and Mount St. Mary's are participating for the first time. All shootout games will be played at the Guillermo Angulo Colisuem in Carolina, a suburb of San Juan. The four tournament semifinals are scheduled for Tuesday (Dec. 20) with the championship round taking place on Wednesday (Dec. 21). Top Stories