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Florida basketball team to open season vs. Georgetown on US Naval Ship



The Florida men's basketball team will open its 2012-13 season by participating in the inaugural Navy/Marines Corps Classic against Georgetown on the deck of an aircraft carrier at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville.

This will be the second straight season that two major conferences have had teams play games on a naval ship. Last season, North Carolina and Michigan State played on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson in San Diego Bay on Nov. 11.

The Gators-Hoyas matchup was put together by Alan Verlander, executive director of Sports and Entertainment for the City of Jacksonville. All proceeds for the game will go to veterans’ causes, including a transitional housing fund for servicemen returning from overseas deployment.

“We’re honored to take part in such a special event, and one that brings recognition to the United States Navy and Marine Corps,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "The U.S. Navy has a long and storied history in the city of Jacksonville and this should be a truly special night. To be able to play an opponent and program the caliber of Georgetown in a city that means so much to the Gator Nation is something we’re proud to be a part of.”

It will mark the fifth all-time meeting between the programs. Florida is 2-2 against Georgetown, including 2-1 under Donovan. The teams last met on March 24, 2006, as the Gators claimed a 57-53 victory in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament en route to their first national championship.

"The Navy is excited to work with the city of Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport to bring the Navy-Marine Corps Classic to the First Coast," Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said in a statement. "The Navy is America's Away Team; when we are on the job, we operate forward around the globe and often out of sight of the American people. This is a unique opportunity to showcase the Navy, and to join together to honor our veterans and active duty military."

Mabus and Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown announced the game at a news conference Friday afternoon.

Florida's non-conference schedule now includes Georgetown, Wisconsin, Marquette, Kanas State, at Arizona, UCF, at FSU, and at Yale.  The Gators' scheduled game against Richmond has been moved to next season so Florida could add the Georgetown game.

The Gators return nine letterwinners, including three starters, from last season's 26-11 team, which advacced to a second-consecutive Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.

[Last modified: Friday, June 15, 2012 3:56pm]


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