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Florida men’s basketball begins 2017-18 SEC slate with Vanderbilt, ends with Kentucky

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The Gators will get an early chance at vengeance, and a Senior Day showdown with the Wildcats.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Florida vs East Tennessee State Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017-18 SEC schedule for men’s basketball was released by the conference Thursday, and it places the Florida Gators back on familiar ground for Senior Day — in Gainesville, against the Kentucky Wildcats.

The Gators’ portion of the 2017-18 SEC schedule — which includes, per the SEC, the 2018 SEC-Big 12 Challenge occurring in late January — is bookended by a December conference opener against recent nemesis Vanderbilt and that showdown in March with the Wildcats that could well decide the conference champion.

It also features no homestand or road trip of more than two games, multiple games against the other three SEC teams to make the 2017 NCAA Tournament — Kentucky, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt — and a rare January road trip to Rupp Arena to take on the Wildcats.

In the last 15 years, or since both have occupied the top rung of the league, Florida and Kentucky have routinely played in early February — the teams met on the first Saturday of February in each of the last three years — and then again in late February or March, with the second meeting between the two teams often serving as one team’s Senior Day. The Saturday, January 20, 2018 meeting between the two teams will be the first January matchup in series history since 2008, when the eventually NIT-bound Gators knocked off Billy Gillespie’s penultimate Kentucky squad by an 81-70 count in overtime.

Florida’s last Senior Day game on a Saturday against Kentucky, meanwhile, was an unforgettable 84-65 triumph that completed the first 18-0 regular season in SEC history.

Florida will also play teams from the same state in consecutive games three times in 2018, with February road trips to Nashville and Knoxville to see Vanderbilt and Tennessee forming the only road-road duet of those games. And the Gators’ schedule appears slightly more front-loaded, with five of their nine road games coming in January, including a visit to a suddenly loaded Missouri and the aforementioned sojourn to Lexington, and no week spent entirely on the road after a Texas A&M-Missouri week in early January.

The full Florida 2017-18 SEC schedule is below. Florida’s non-conference schedule, which is highlighted by its participation in the Nike-sponsored PK80 tournament, was released in July.

Florida Men’s Basketball 2017-18 SEC Schedule

Date Opponent Location
Date Opponent Location
Saturday, December 30 Vanderbilt Gainesville
Tuesday, January 2 Texas A&M College Station, Tex.
Saturday, January 6 Missouri Columbia, Mo.
Wednesday, January 10 Mississippi State Gainesville
Saturday, January 14 Ole Miss Oxford, Miss.
Tuesday, January 17 Arkansas Gainesville
Saturday, January 20 Kentucky Lexington, Ky.
Wednesday, January 24 South Carolina Gainesville
Saturday, January 27 Baylor (SEC-Big 12 Challenge) Gainesville
Tuesday, January 30 Georgia Athens, Ga.
Saturday, February 3 Alabama Gainesville
Wednesday, February 7 LSU Gainesville
Saturday, February 10 South Carolina Columbia, S.C.
Wednesday, February 14 Georgia Gainesville
Saturday, February 17 Vanderbilt Nashville
Wednesday, February 21 Tennessee Knoxville
Saturday, February 24 Auburn Gainesville
Tuesday, February 27 Alabama Tuscaloosa, Al.
Saturday, March 3 Kentucky Gainesville