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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gators basketball: Donovan to face son, Arizona, Syracuse, Ohio State

GAINESVILLE — The Florida men’s basketball team, which reached the Elite Eight last season, will play six games against teams in the 2011 NCAA Tournament field, three of which finished in the Sweet Sixteen or better.
In total, Florida will play eight contests against teams that appeared in postseason play last season (beyond conference tournaments). UF will also compete against four in-state opponents and will play games in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and Sunrise with its nonconference schedule announced Wednesday.
The Gators will also play an exhibition vs. Catholic on Nov. 3 _ which includes Billy Donovan's son, also named Billy, a 6-foot-1 guard who will be a sophomore. An early-season road test at Ohio State also highlights the November portion of the slate, while the Gators also travel to face Syracuse as part of the inaugural Big East/SEC Challenge.
Florida welcomes Arizona and Florida State to the O’Connell Center and plays a neutral-court contest against Texas A&M in December. UF closes its out-of-league schedule with a home date against UAB, another 2011 NCAA Tournament team.
"We've made it a practice to play a difficult non-conference schedule, and this is perhaps the toughest one yet,'' Donovan said. "That's something that really helps prepare us for the NCAA Tournament. We're also looking forward to playing games in front of our great fans from several different areas of Florida, and we host some exciting matchups on our home court, as well.''
UF opens its regular season with four games as part of the Global Sports Shootout, starting at home against Jackson State on Nov. 11. Florida travels to Columbus, Ohio, to take on the Buckeyes on Nov. 15 for the second half of a home-and-home series that began in Gainesville last November. The Buckeyes are coming off a Big Ten Championship (regular season and tournament) and an appearance in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
The Gators will have a quick turnaround to face North Florida, finalists in the 2011 Atlantic Sun Tournament, in the O’Connell Center on Nov. 17 before a Nov. 21 meeting with Wright State in Tampa’s St. Pete Times Forum to wrap up the Global Sports Shootout.

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