FLORIDA AND FLORIDA STATE RETURN TO HEADLINE 2019 METRO BY T-MOBILE ORANGE BOWL BASKETBALL CLASSIC
Miami Lakes, Fla. – The 26th annual Metro by T-Mobile Orange Bowl Basketball Classic will once again feature the Florida State Seminoles and the Florida Gators, hosting the South Florida Bulls and the Utah State Aggies, respectively, on December 21 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla. Game times will be announced at a later date.
To purchase tickets, please contact the Orange Bowl ticket sales office at (305) 341-4701 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Seminoles, whose coach Leonard Hamilton is the winningest in Florida State history with 334 victories in 17 seasons, will take on South Florida, guided by head coach Brian Gregory, who led his team to a school record 24-win season in 2018-19. The Gators, whose head coach Mike White has 89 wins through his first four years at the helm, will host Utah State and second-year head coach Craig Smith, who won more games than any other head coach in their first year in school history (28).
The Florida State Seminoles return to the Classic for the 11th time (8-2 record) after a thrilling run to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament and a No. 10 finish in the final Associated Press poll of the 2018-19 season. The Seminoles broke school records for wins (29) and ACC wins (13) in route to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Florida State returns two of its starters from last year including senior guard Trent Forrest (9.3 PPG) and junior guard M.J. Walker (7.5 PPG) in addition to securing a top-20 recruiting class.
The South Florida Bulls, out of the American Athletic Conference, had the top turnaround in the NCAA last season by winning 14 more games than in 2017-18 with 24 wins and a College Basketball Invitational championship, the program’s first postseason tournament championship since 1990. USF enters the 2019-20 season returning all five starters from last year including guard Laquincy Rideau (13.4 PPG) from West Palm Beach, who earned AAC Defensive Player of the Year honors last season, and Alexis Yetna (12.3 PPG), the 2019 American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year.
The Florida Gators, who will be making their 21st appearance in the Classic with a 17-3 all-time record, are fresh off a third-straight NCAA Tournament bid and fourth consecutive 20-win season. The Gators led the SEC in scoring defense in 2018-19 by allowing 63.6 points per game. Florida returns multiple starters including sophomore point guard Andrew Nembhard (8.0 PPG) who started all 36 games last season, forward Keyontae Johnson (8.1 PPG) and guard Noah Locke (9.4 PPG). The Gators also signed a top-10 freshman class in addition to bringing in Virginia Tech transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr, a 6-foot-10 forward who averaged 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds for a Sweet 16 team last season.
The Utah State Aggies are coming off a historic season in which they won their first-ever Mountain West regular season title and tournament championship and made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament as the No. 8 seed, the highest for the Aggies in school history. Four of last season’s starters will be returning for the Aggies, including Neemias Queta, the Mountain West Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year, and Sam Merrill, the 2019 Mountain West Player of the Year and an honorable mention AP-All American. Merrill led the Aggies with 20.9 points per game, finishing second in the Mountain West.
With assistance from title sponsor Metro by T-Mobile, the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic will be the only Division I basketball played in Broward County again next season.
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