Florida and Florida State Return to Headline 2016 MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic

 

The 23rd annual MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic will once again feature the Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles, hosting the Charlotte 49ers and Manhattan College Jaspers, respectively, on December 17 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla. Game times will be announced at a later date. For ticket information, please contact the Orange Bowl ticket sales office at (305) 341-4701 or email tickets@orangebowl.org.

The Gators, whose head coach Mike White matched a program record with 21 wins in his first season a year ago, will host Charlotte and second-year head coach Mark Price. Price, a first-round draft pick in the 1986 NBA Draft, went on to become a four-time NBA All-Star. The Seminoles, whose coach Leonard Hamilton is the winningest  in Florida State history with 256 victories in 14 seasons, will take on Manhattan, guided by head coach Steve Masiello, who won back-to-back Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Championships (2013-14 and 2014-15) while also leading the Jaspers to three-straight MAAC Title game appearances (2013, 2014 and 2015).

The Florida Gators will be making their 18th appearance in the Classic and have a 15-2 all-time record. With nine returners, the Gators are hoping to build on their previous season’s overall success. The Gators return three of their top four scorers, sophomore guard KeVaughn Allen (11.6 PPG), junior center John Egbunu (11.5 PPG) and senior guard Kasey Hill (9.1 PPG).

The Charlotte 49ers, out of Conference USA, are making their first appearance in the Classic. They are coming off of a 14-19 season, where they ended up .500 in conference play with a 9-9 record. The 49ers will find leadership in returning top scorers, senior guard Braxton Ogbueze (14.5 PPG), sophomore guard Jon Davis (11.7 PPG) and sophomore guard Andrien White (10.7 PPG).

Florida State is back to make its eighth appearance (6-1 record) in the Classic. The ‘Noles return two of their starters, sophomore guard Dwayne Bacon (33 GS) and junior guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (32 GS), both of whom were in the top three in field goal shooting percentage with 44.7% and 40.8%, respectively. FSU has made the journey to postseason tournament play in 10 of the last 11 seasons.

Manhattan College is making its first appearance in the Classic. With a 13-18 record for the 2015-16 season, Manhattan returns three of its top four scorers from a year ago, senior guard Rich Williams (14.8 PPG), junior forward Zane Waterman (11.0 PPG) and junior forward Calvin Crawford (10.8 PPG). The Jaspers former football program played in the first-ever Palm Festival Game, the predecessor to the Orange Bowl, in 1933.

With assistance from title sponsor MetroPCS and associate sponsors American Airlines, BB&T Center, Coca-Cola, Florida Prepaid College Board, FOX Sports Florida, Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB, Panera Bread, Sunshine Health, The Miami Herald and Toyota, the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic will be the only Division I basketball played in Broward County again next season.

 

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