Florida Gators to face former coach Lon Kruger at Oklahoma in 2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge

By Adam Silverstein
May 23, 2016
Florida Gators to face former coach Lon Kruger at Oklahoma in 2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Image Credit: ESPN Images

Florida Gators basketball’s 2016-17 nonconference schedule continues to take shape. In addition to a multitude of matches reported here on OnlyGators.com, Florida will hit the road to face the Oklahoma Sooners as part of the 2017 SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Contests were shifted to a single day in January – during interconference play – last season as opposed to being held before most teams’ league schedules begin after the turn of the year.

The 2017 edition of the challenge will be held on Jan. 28.

The Gators are 2-1 all-time in the challenge, splitting a series 1-1 against Kansas and taking down West Virginia last season.

Florida is 1-0 all-time against Oklahoma, winning the only meeting 76-72 when the teams squared off in a neutral-site contest 21 years ago.

There will be an additional level of intrigue in this UF-OU showdown as the Sooners are currently led by former Gators head coach Lon Kruger, who helped build the Florida basketball program in the 1990s by taking it to its first Final Four in 1994. Kruger went 104-80 (51-47 SEC) at UF but has reached a new level of success three stops later at Oklahoma. Under Kruger, the Sooners have gone 111-57 (52-38 Big 12) over the last five seasons, advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2015 and the Final Four last season.

A total of 10 games will be played as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, which actually took place over three-day span in its first two years. Every game will be televised on an ESPN network. Seeing as the SEC has four more member institutions than the Big 12, not every school is scheduled to play in the event. UF has yet to be left out of the challenge.

Florida has not released its 2016-17 non-conference schedule, but plenty has been reported on the subject.

As reported by OnlyGators.com:

— UF’s signature nonconference game will come against Duke on Dec. 6 in the 2016 Jimmy V. Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.

— The Gators will also participate in the 2016 Orange Bowl Basketball Classic on Dec. 16 in Sunrise, Florida, against a yet-to-be-announced opponent. It will be the 16th time in 17 seasons that UF will be at the event.

— Florida will also participate in the 2016 AdvoCare Invitational in Orlando, a non-elimination tournament with a winner’s and loser’s bracket. UF will compete in three games over four days in November against teams including Gonzaga, Iowa State, Miami, Quinnpiac, Seton Hall and Stanford.

— The Gators will play two nonconference games in Jacksonville. It is also expected that UF will play in Tampa, though the program will not come back down to South Florida outside of the OBBC.

The $60 million renovation to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center has pushed Florida out of its home arena during the nonconference slate. Construction is expected to be wrapped up in December, just in time for the Gators to possibly sneak in one or two games before Southeastern Conference play begins.

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