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Washington State, seven others to take part in 2019 Cayman Islands Classic tournament

Washington State's CJ Elleby and Jeff Pollard (13) celebrate the team's 69-55 win over Arizona in an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. (Rick Scuteri / AP)
Washington State's CJ Elleby and Jeff Pollard (13) celebrate the team's 69-55 win over Arizona in an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, in Tucson, Ariz. (Rick Scuteri / AP)

Washington State’s basketball team will escape the frosty Palouse for the sunny Caribbean in late November to take part in the 2019 Cayman Islands Classic, the school announced Tuesday.

The Cougars and seven other teams will participate in the 2019 event, which is held over a three-day span, from Nov. 25-27 at John Gray Gymnasium at George Town, Grand Cayman.

First-round matchups will be announced at a later date, but the field also includes Colorado State, George Mason, Loyola Chicago, Nebraska, New Mexico State, Old Dominion, and South Florida.

“The nonconference tournaments are great opportunities for teams to find out where they stand,” first-year WSU coach Kyle Smith said in a school press release. “With this field, we will be tested to say the least. In addition, I love to snorkel. … It is always great for our young men to experience different climates and cultures. No one on our team has ever been to the Cayman Islands, which should offer up life-long memories.”

The Cougars have played recent games against two of the teams in the tournament. They lost twice to New Mexico State in 2018-19, dropping a 69-63 contest to the Aggies at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, and falling 75-72 after overcoming a 16-point deficit in a late-December game at the Las Vegas Classic.

Three seasons ago, WSU played Loyola-Chicago at the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, losing 88-79 to the Ramblers.

A matchup with Colorado State could also provide an intriguing storyline. Kyle Smith’s first signee as the WSU coach was forward Deion James, a graduate transfer forward who spent his last two seasons playing for the Rams.

The Cougars will be the first Pac-12 school to participate in the Cayman Classic, which is in its third year of existence. Creighton won the tournament in 2018, while Cincinnati won the inaugural tournament in 2017.

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