ELON, N.C. – Coming off a narrow overtime defeat at Northwestern on Saturday, the Elon University men’s basketball team sets its sights to Cancun, Mexico, for a Nov. 25 contest against Morgan State in the Cancun Challenge. Tip time is 1:30 p.m. (ET) at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.
A day later, Elon will face either North Florida or Liberty in the championship/consolation game of the Mayan Division at 1:30 p.m. or 4 p.m. (ET).
ELON VS. MORGAN STATE: Tuesday marks the first meeting between the Phoenix and Bears.
ELON VS. THE MEAC: Tuesday’s game against Morgan State is Elon’s 21st against a member of the MEAC. Elon is 11-9 against current members of the MEAC. Here is Elon’s record against MEAC foes: Savannah State (3-0), North Carolina A&T (4-9), North Carolina Central (2-0), Maryland Eastern Shore (2-0).
ELON VS. NORTH FLORIDA: A potential meeting with North Florida would be the first for the Phoenix.
ELON VS. LIBERTY: Former Big South Conference foes, Elon and Liberty would be meeting for the 17th time if the two face off. Elon leads the series, 11-5. The two schools last met on Feb. 5, 2003, in Alumni Gym, as the Flames came away with a 54-52 win.
BIG SOUTH TIES: Elon was a member of the Big South Conference from 1999-2003 before moving to the Southern Conference.
LOOKING BACK: The Phoenix led nearly the entire way at Northwestern on Saturday, Nov. 22, but the ‘Cats managed to escape with a 68-67 overtime decision. Tre Demps hit a step-back jumper with less than a minute left in overtime to give NU a one-point edge. Elon’s Tony Sabato and Elijah Bryant had potential go-ahead jumpers in the waning moments that fell short. Tanner Samson scored a game- and career-high 24 points in the setback after knocking down eight three-pointers.
LOOKING AHEAD: Following two games in Cancun, the Phoenix wraps up the Cancun Challenge in Oxford, Ohio, on Nov. 30 against the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks.
RARE COMPANY: Tanner Samson’s eight triples against Northwestern are tied for the second most in a single game since Elon made the transition to the Division I ranks. Matt Nowlin hit eight threes against UNCG on Feb. 7, 2004, while Drew Spradlin knocked down eight against Chattanooga on Jan. 23, 2010. Sebastian Koch hit eight triples last season against Central Penn. Sebastian Koch holds the Elon single-game record with nine threes in last year’s setback at 21st-ranked Colorado.
BEYOND THE ARC: With eight triples at Northwestern on Nov. 22, Tanner Samson now sits at 152 in his career (ninth in school history). Samson needs 12 triples to pass TJ Douglas for eighth in school history. Jack Isenbarger ’14 ranks first in school history in career threes made with 264. Samson entered this season third all-time in Elon history in career three-point field goal percentage at 39.4 percent, trailing only Sebastian Koch (40.3%) and Steve Page (46.4%).
ANOTHER ELITE TOURNAMENT: Elon will participate in one of the nation’s top tournaments to begin the season, as the Phoenix travels to Mexico for the Cancun Challenge this season. Elon will face Morgan State on Nov. 25 in Cancun before taking on Liberty or North Florida a day later. Elon’s games at Northwestern (Nov. 22) and Miami (Nov. 30) are also a part of the Cancun Challenge. Last season, the Phoenix competed in the NIT Season Tip-Off. In 2012-13, Elon was selected to participate in the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational.
HOME SLATE: Phoenix fans have only five chances to see men’s basketball action in Alumni Gym before the end of the calendar year. Following Sunday’s game against Charlotte, Elon has just three remaining home games in 2014 – Virginia University of Lynchburg (Dec. 2), Central Pennsylvania (Dec. 7) and Marist (Dec. 28).
NEW LOOKS: The 2014-15 season marks one of newness for the maroon and gold. Elon begins its inaugural season in the Colonial Athletic Association this year. The Phoenix welcomes in five newcomers to the squad this year following the departure of four 1,000-point scorers in Jack Isenbarger, Lucas Troutman, Ryley Beaumont and Sebastian Koch. Elon will also don new uniforms this season.
PRESEASON PROGNOSTICATIONS: The CAA released its preseason men’s basketball poll on Oct. 21, as the league’s head coaches predicted the Phoenix to finish 10th in the league. Northeastern was picked as the preseason favorite while William & Mary’s Marcus Thornton earned nods as the preseason player of the year.
LEAGUE FIRST: Elon’s 64-58 victory over Florida Atlantic on Nov. 14 marked the first win of the 2014-15 season for the Colonial Athletic Association. Hofstra and College of Charleston also claimed wins on opening night for the CAA.
ELON ON THE BIG SCREEN: Elon will appear on television eight times this season, including four occasions in Alumni Gym. American Sports Network (ASN) will carry Elon’s home games against Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, William & Mary and Hofstra, in addition to road games at James Madison and Delaware. Elon’s game at Missouri on Dec. 11 will be broadcasted live on the SEC Network, while the Phoenix’s Dec. 15 matchup in Cameron Indoor Stadium vs. Duke will be carried on ESPNU.
A LOOK AT ELON: The Phoenix is coming off an 18-14 campaign in the Southern Conference under sixth-year head coach Matt Matheny. Elon welcomes back starters Austin Hamilton (6.2 ppg, 2.5 apg) and Tanner Samson (9.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg), while returning a total of 10 non-starters. Senior guard Kevin Blake (4.7 ppg) and senior forward Ryan Winters (3.0 ppg) join Hamilton to make up this year’s senior class. The Phoenix graduated one of the most decorated classes in school history, as four 1,000-point scorers depart in Lucas Troutman, Jack Isenbarger, Sebastian Koch and Ryley Beaumont. The team welcomes five newcomers to the squad this season, including Jack Anton (Fr., F, 6-8, 230, Cincinnati, Ohio), Elijah Bryant (Fr., G, 6-4, 225, Gwinnett, Ga.), Collin Luther (Fr., F, 6-6, 210, Pittsburgh, Pa.), Dmitri Thompson (Fr., G, 6-4, 195, Orlando, Fla.) and Jack George (Fr., F, 6-10, 210, Libertyville, Ill.).
HEAD COACH MATT MATHENY: The 2014-15 season marks the sixth year at Elon for head coach Matt Matheny. Matheny enters the Cancun Challenge with a career record of 78-84. Matheny was voted by the Southern Conference media as the Coach of the Year in 2012-13 and was a finalist for CollegeInsider.com’s Hugh Durham award, which honors the nation’s top mid-major coach.
ROAD TO BALTIMORE: The 2015 CAA Men’s Basketball Championship is scheduled for March 6-9 in Baltimore, Md., at Royal Farms Arena. Last year, Delaware topped William & Mary, 75-74, in the championship game to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.