MEN'S HOOPS: UF announces 2005-2006 schedule

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- A pair of home games for the prestigious Coaches vs. Cancer Classic kick-off 18 regular season home games, while trips to Providence and Miami highlight the 2005-06 University of Florida men's basketball schedule, announced on Thursday.

"We're excited about the schedule we've put together this season," said Florida head coach Billy Donovan. "It starts a little earlier than we're accustomed to, but that's a good thing. With our preseason tournament, we'll find out a lot about our team very early in our schedule. We'll face some difficult tests on the road in the non-conference portion of our schedule which will hopefully help us prepare for a very balanced and challenging SEC season."

After exhibition games with Embry Riddle and West Florida the first week in November, the Gators open the 2005-06 regular season at the O'Connell Center on Nov. 9 against St. Peter's College in the Gainesville Regional of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic with the second round to be held on Nov. 10. Albany and Oakland (Mich.) are the other participants in the Gainesville Regional and the winner of the four-team tournament will travel to Madison Square Garden in New York City for the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic Final Four on Nov. 17-18. Other Coaches vs. Cancer regional sites will be hosted by Syracuse, Wake Forest and Texas Tech.

Following the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, the Gators return to the O'Connell Center for their annual showdown with Florida State on Nov. 25. For the first time since 2001, the game will be held the night before the Florida-Florida State football game.

After home tilts with Alabama State (Nov. 28) and UCF (Dec. 3), Florida travels to Providence for Donovan's first trip back to play against his alma mater. Donovan was a four-year letter-winner for the Friars from 1984-87, earning All-America honors his senior year when he helped lead Providence to the Final Four.

The Gators return home and face Bethune Cookman (Dec. 9) and Jacksonville (Dec. 18) before heading to Miami on Dec. 22 for their first appearance at the Convocation Center, which opened in 2003. Florida has not played on Miami's campus since 1990.

Following non-conference games with Florida A&M (Dec. 30) and Morgan State (Jan. 3), the Gators open SEC play at Georgia on Jan. 7. The SEC home opener will be on Jan. 11 when Mississippi State comes to the O'Connell Center. Auburn (Jan. 14) and Vanderbilt (Jan. 28) highlight home games in January, while Florida will travel in league play to Tennessee (Jan. 21), South Carolina (Jan. 25) and Ole Miss (Jan. 31).

Florida opens February with three straight home games, including a rematch of the last two SEC Tournament title games, as Kentucky comes to the O'Connell Center on Feb. 4 in a rare Saturday night 9 p.m. tip, to be televised nationally by ESPN2.

South Carolina comes to Gainesville on Feb. 8 followed by LSU on Feb. 11. After road games at Vanderbilt (Feb. 15) and Arkansas (Feb. 18), Florida hosts Tennessee on Feb. 22.

The Gators will play nationally televised games on CBS the final two Sundays of the year, traveling to Alabama on Feb. 26 and to Kentucky on March 5. Sandwiched in between those two games will be Florida's home finale against Georgia on March 1.

The SEC Tournament shifts from Atlanta to Nashville for 2006, taking place at the Gaylord Entertainment Center from March 9-12.

A minimum of 24 regular season games will be televised in 2005-06 with as many as 26 should the Gators advance to the Coaches vs. Cancer Final Four in New York.

Complete schedule...

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