Florida Gators basketball’s 2014-15 schedule

Florida Gators basketball’s 2014-15 schedule was officially announced on Friday when the Southeastern Conference released its full league schedule for next season.

The Gators will face at least four (but up to six) opponents who took part in the 2014 NCAA Tournament while participating in special non-conference events including the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas, SEC/Big 12 Challenge and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic in Sunrise, Florida.

Florida will face Georgetown in its opening Battle 4 Atlantis game. Other potential opponents over the final two rounds include Butler, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, UAB and UCLA.

UF also takes on Kansas in an SEC/Big 12 Challenge rematch in Lawrence, Kansas. Last season, the Gators took down the Jayhawks 67-61 in Gainesville.

Florida meets Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic and links up again with UConn in non-conference action for the third time in the last two seasons.

The Huskies were one of two teams to beat the Gators during the 2013-14 season, winning 65-64 on a buzzer beater in Stoors, Connecticut, on Dec. 2 and 63-53 during the Final Four in Arlington, Texas. This year, UConn travels to Gainesville.

In-state rivalry games at home against Miami (Nov. 17) and on the road at Florida State (Dec. 30) also highlight UF’s non-conference slate.

The Gators open their 18-game SEC schedule on the road at South Carolina before playing consecutive home games against Mississippi State and Auburn. Florida plays its permanent rival, Kentucky, twice this season but will also take on LSU, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt in home-and-away games.

The Gators and Wildcats will meet twice on Saturday; the first game could wind up hosting ESPN College GameDay, while the second is the regular-season finale for both teams.

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2014 Battle 4 Atlantis bracket released; Florida Gators to open tournament vs. Georgetown

The Florida Gators will take on the Georgetown Hoyas in the opening round of the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, which will be held from Nov. 26-28 at the Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

Guaranteed to play three games in as many days, the winner and loser from the Florida-Georgetown game will take on either Wisconsin or UAB. With consecutive victories, the Gators would play in the tournament’s championship game.

UF is 2-2 all-time against GU. The teams last met on the deck of the USS Bataan in the 2012 Navy-Marine Corps Classic in Jacksonville, Florida. The game was halted at halftime due to condensation collecting on the court and did not resume.

Florida’s first game will tip on Nov. 26 at 9:30 p.m. and air live nationally on AXS TV, which is available on major television providers including AT&T Uverse, Charter Cable, Xfinity TV, DirecTV, DISH Network, Time Warner Cable and Verizon FIOS, among others.

Should the Gators lose that showdown, both of their remaining contests would remain on AXS TV. If Florida wins, its latter two games would air live nationally on ESPN.

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Florida Gators basketball releases complete 2014-15 non-conference schedule

Florida Gators basketball released the team’s entire 2014-15 non-conference schedule on Tuesday, though times and network assignments will not be announced until closer to the start of the season.

The Gators will face at least three (but up to seven) opponents who took part in the 2014 NCAA Tournament while also participating in special events including the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas, SEC-Big 12 Challenge and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

Potential opponents for Florida in the Battle 4 Atlantis include Butler, Georgetown, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, UAB and UCLA.

“This difficult schedule will not only prepare our team for league and postseason play, it delivers a terrific lineup of marquee games for our fans,” said Mike Hill, UF’s executive associate athletic director for external affairs, in a school release. “From hosting the defending national champions, to renewing the Miami rivalry, to playing in perhaps the toughest tournament ever assembled, this schedule has it all for the Gators.”

Below is the official 2014-15 non-conference schedule:

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FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Harvin, FSU, Tebow

1 » A rough rookie season has not deterred the Miami Dolphins from committing to former Florida Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis. Though he started his NFL career on fire with 10-straight makes, Sturgis suffered a slump where he missed 5-of-8 (some of which were in tough conditions and others from absurd long distances). He ended the 2014 season by making 13 of his final 16 tries and should only get better in his second campaign. “Every day you go out there, you want to hit every field goal,” Sturgis told his team’s website. “You try. When you get in a rhythm where you’re hitting every field goal you make, you stay at a consistent level.”

2 » The Seattle Seahawks continue to treat oft-injured wide receiver Percy Harvin with kid gloves, only allowing him to work out every other day in training camp. After an off day Saturday, Harvin returned to action Sunday and impressed once again. Head coach Pete Carroll explained to the team’s website how the Seahawks are being cautious with Harvin. “We want to work our way into camp and make sure we don’t overload him early,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what kind of work load he can handle. He works so hard and so fast at practice that we think we can do this for a while. We’ll see how it goes and we’re just going to learn as we go.” For Harvin, who was famous for trying to avoid practicing every day with the Florida Gators, this appears to be as ideal of a scenario as he could imagine.

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Florida, Miami schedule home-and-home series

In a move that has been taking shape for weeks, a home-and-home men’s basketball series spanning the next two seasons between the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes was officially announced on Tuesday.

Along with the announcement was the first confirmed date for a Florida-Miami showdown. The Gators and Hurricanes will square off on Nov. 17, 2014 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida. The contest will be UF’s second game of the 2014-15 campaign with the first unscheduled as of press time.

UM will then host its in-state rival in either November or December of 2015 at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables.

Florida is 45-22 all-time against Miami on the hardwood with the schools last playing a home-and-home series in 2004-05; the visiting team won each game.

The Gators and Canes have squared off just four times in the last 23 seasons, however, all of those showdowns have come since 2002.

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OGGOA Week in Review Updates: Offensive coordinator, point guards, Tim Tebow

Though Florida Gators football saw its season come to an end last Saturday and Florida basketball does not have a game until Tuesday, there has nevertheless been plenty of Gators news to cover this week.

A number of the stories covered by OnlyGators.com deserve updates now that the week has come to a conclusion, hence this special edition of OGGOA Week in Review. Some updates can be found below while others are in the appropriately linked stories.

SEARCH FOR AN OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CONTINUES

When offensive coordinator Brent Pease was released on Sunday, OnlyGators.com published an early look at some candidates to replace him. That list has been updated throughout the week and once again on Saturday. Check out the original post – Replacing Brent Pease as offensive coordinator – for the latest information.

POINT GUARDS HEALTHIER THAN ADVERTISED

Sources close to the program and players told OnlyGators.com multiple times over the last week to expect both of the Gators’ point guards – senior Scottie Wilbekin and freshman Kasey Hill – to play on Tuesday at home against Kansas. This was information strongly hinted at during a post earlier in the week.

Florida announced on Tuesday that Wilbekin, who left Monday’s game at UConn with an ankle injury, had suffered a high-ankle sprain despite the fact that the player reportedly left the arena that night under his own power without the use of crutches or a boot. On Saturday, the Gators released a long post on their own website detailing the rehabilitation that Wilbekin has been undergoing. Hidden within the piece, Wilbekin was suddenly listed as “questionable” for Tuesday’s game despite there previously having been “no timetable” for his recovery.

Saturday evening at 6 p.m., UF relented and finally announced that Wilbekin not only practiced in the afternoon but has already been cleared to play on Tuesday. The school is now referring to his injury only as an “ankle sprain.”

Hill, on the other hand, legitimately suffered a high-ankle sprain three weeks ago, and the one-month recovery timetable provided by Florida was indeed accurate. However, he has been working extremely hard at his rehabilitation and is also expected to suit up for the Gators on Tuesday as long as he can stand the discomfort. Hill is unlikely to be at 100 percent for the game but would instead spell Wilbekin at point guard for a couple minutes each half. He is legitimately questionable.

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Florida Gators to compete in 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis

The organizers for the 2014 Battle 4 Atlantis officially announced Tuesday what was already rumored, that the Florida Gators will help headline a strong eight-team field that will participate in the Bahamas-based event over Thanksgiving weekend next year.

Florida is just one-eighth of a loaded field that includes Butler, Georgetown, Oklahoma, North Carolina, UCLA, Wisconsin and Alabama-Birmingham. The Gators will be guaranteed to play at least three of the other programs from Nov. 26-28, 2014 as the event is a bracket-style tournament with first-, third-, fifth- and seventh-place games.

Teams are seeded based on ranking and a couple other factors. With a majority of the teams likely to be ranked next year, it is expected to be the best and most competitive Battle 4 Atlantis in the tournament’s third season of existence.

Each game is held inside the Imperial Arena (a grand ballroom transformed into a basketball arena) at the Atlantis Resorts on Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas.

It will be the first time Florida plays in such an exotic setting since UF participated in the Maui Invitational at the start of the 1999-00 campaign.

Gators head coach Billy Donovan has a fondness for premier non-conference tournaments and events even if Florida has not participated in a large number of them in the past. This season, UF is taking part in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, Jimmy V. Classic and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

The school has already announced that travel packages will be available for fans interested in attending the tournament (and scrapping Thanksgiving holiday plans with their families). Everyone else will be able to watch the games live on ESPN.

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