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May 18, 2010

K-State to play Florida in Orange Bowl Classic

Kansas State's men's basketball team will venture to the Sunshine State for a showdown with NCAA Tournament participant Florida in the 16th annual MetroPCS Orange Bowl Classic on Saturday, Dec. 18 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla., the Orange Bowl Committee announced on Tuesday.

The Classic will feature a doubleheader format with Miami and Central Florida playing in the evening's opening game. Game times and television information will be released at a later date. Tickets are priced at $20, $30, $40 and $50 and are available through the Orange Bowl Committee at (305) 341-4702 or online at orangebowl.org. The games will be played in the 20,737-seat BankAtlantic Center, home to the NHL's Florida Panthers.

"This is a great opportunity to play a game against one of the elite basketball programs in the country, coached by one of the best coaches in Billy (Donovan)," said head coach Frank Martin. "This also gives us a chance to expose our program to an area in Florida where we have done a lot of recruiting and will continue to do so in the future. Selfishly, this is going to be exciting for me to take the basketball program that we have built over the last four years at K-State and show it to all my family, friends and colleagues in South Florida."

The contest will match two preseason Top 10 teams, as both appeared in preseason polls released by ESPN.com's Andy Katz, FOXSports.com's Jeff Goodman and CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish last week. K-State has been a consensus Top 10 team in a number of preseason polls, including No. 5 by CBSSports.com, ESPN.com and FOXSports.com and No. 6 by The Sporting News. Florida is ranked No. 10 by CBSSports.com, ESPN.com and FOXSports.com and is No. 22 in The Sporting News' Top 25.

"As we continue to advance our brand nationally, this is a great opportunity to showcase Kansas State University and our basketball program under Coach Martin's leadership," said athletics director John Currie.

This will be the first meeting between the two schools on the hardwood. K-State is 19-20 all-time against teams from the SEC, including a split of games with Mississippi and Alabama this past season.

Florida, which has appeared in 13 consecutive postseason tournaments, will return its top-5 scorers from a squad that posted a 21-13 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons in 2009-10. The Gators are led by head coach Billy Donovan, who has guided the squad to 12 consecutive 20-win seasons, including back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

Kansas State is coming off one of its best seasons in school history in 2009-10, in which, the Wildcats tallied a school-record 29 wins and advanced to the Elite Eight for the 12th time in school history and the first time since 1988. The squad will return three starters and 10 lettermen in 2010-11, including The Sporting News' third team All-American Jacob Pullen and All-Newcomer Team selection Curtis Kelly.

The two teams nearly met in the NCAA Tournament this past season when they were both sent to the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Okla., for the West Regional First/Second Rounds. However, in a match-up of 7-10 seeds, Florida lost in double overtime to BYU, 99-92, in the first round. After earning a first round win over North Texas, K-State knocked off the Cougars, 84-72, in the second round to earn its first trip to the Sweet 16 since 1988.

The game will be a reunion for Martin, who grew up in Miami and coached in the prep ranks from 1985 to 2000.

The contract states that a return game between the schools will be played at a neutral site in the 2012-13 season.

The balance of Kansas State's schedule will be released at a later date.



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