Florida to open at Arkansas in SEC play

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Florida will start and end SEC basketball play on the road this season.

The Gators will open conference play Dec. 29 at Arkansas (7 p.m. SEC Network) and finish up at Vanderbilt on March 4 (2 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2) according to the league schedule, which was released Tuesday.

In between, Florida will play nine of its 16 conference games at the newly renovated Exactech Arena at the O’Connell Center. Florida’s SEC home opener is Jan. 3 against Ole Miss (7 p.m., ESPNU). Other home games of note include Jan. 7 against Tennessee (5:15 p.m. ESPN2) and Feb. 4 against Kentucky (ESPN or ESPN2, 2 p.m. or 8 p.m.).

Florida will get a tough two-day turn to face rival Kentucky at home. Two days earlier, Florida will host Missouri on Feb. 2 on a Thursday night game. It’s the lone Thursday-Saturday turnaround the Gators will face in league play this season.

The SEC opener at Arkansas will be a homecoming for Florida sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen (North Little Rock, Ark.) and senior forward Justin Leon (Conway, Ark.). It also will pit two of the top returning centers in the SEC — Florida junior John Egbunu against Arkansas senior Moses Kingsley.

Florida’s SEC finale and senior night for guard Kasey Hill, forward Justin Leon, forward Canyon Barry and center Schuyler Rimmer will be March 1 against Arkansas. The Gators will play Arkansas and South Carolina twice along with permanent rivals Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Georgia. Florida’s return trip to Rupp Arena to face the Wildcats will be Feb. 25 (2 p.m., CBS). For the second straight season, Florida will play four of its last six SEC games on the road.

From a television standpoint, of UF’s 18 conference games, 12 will be televised on either CBS, ESPN or ESPN2.

Florida is entering its second season under coach Mike White with four starters returning and nine players overall coming back from last season (including redshirt freshman forward Keith Stone). The Gators went 9-9 in SEC play, which tied for eighth in the conference. After beating Arkansas in the 8-9 seed game, Florida lost to top seed Texas A&M in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament last season.

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or kevin.brockway@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway’s blog at Gatorsports.com.

 

Here’s a full look at UF’s SEC schedule:

Dec. 29 — at Arkansas, 7 p.m., SEC Network

Jan. 3 — Ole Miss, 7 p.m., ESPNU

Jan. 5 — Tennessee, 5:15 p.m., ESPN2

Jan. 10 — at Alabama, 9 p.m., ESPNU

Jan. 14 — Georgia, noon, ESPN/2

Jan. 18 — at South Carolina, 6:30 p.m., SEC Network

Jan. 21 — Vanderbilt, noon, CBS

Jan. 25 — at LSU, 9 p.m., SEC Network

Feb. 2 — Missouri, 7 p.m., ESPN/ESPN2

Feb. 4 — Kentucky, 2 or 8 p.m., ESPN/ESP2

Feb. 7 — at Georgia, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Feb. 11 — Texas A&M, noon, ESPN/2

Feb. 14 — at Auburn, 7 p.m., SEC Network

Feb. 18 — at Mississippi State, 2 p.m., ESPN/2

Feb. 21 — South Carolina, 7 p.m., ESPN

Feb. 25 — at Kentucky, 2 p.m., CBS

March 1 — Arkansas, 7 p.m, ESPN2

March 4 — at Vanderbilt, 2 p.m., ESPN/2