UF to face Winthrop

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Add Winthrop to the 2008-09 Florida men’s basketball schedule.

Florida will face Winthrop on Dec. 28 at the Metro PCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic. The event will again be held at the BankAtantic Center in Sunrise, a Fort Lauderdale suburb.

Winthrop should give the Gators a decent test before Southeastern Conference play. The Golden Eagles have made seven NCAA Tournament appearances since 1999, developing into a program that’s emerged as a mid-major power. Last year, at the Orange Bowl Classic, Winthrop beat Miami 76-70.

Florida State and Western Kentucky will play in the second half of the double header. Tickets for the game can be purchased at www.orangebowl.org or by calling (305)-341-4702.

Florida hasn’t officially released its schedule yet, but the Gators already have committed to play North Carolina State at the O’Connell Center on Jan. 3 and Missouri-Kansas City at Amway Arena in Orlando on Nov. 30. In addition, Florida has been invited to play in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Classic, setting up potential matchups with either Syracuse, Kansas and Washington if the Gators win their first two play-in games. The semifinals and finals of the tournament will be held Nov. 24-25 in Kansas City, Mo.