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Gators welcome Vermont on Thanksgiving eve

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After their first loss of the season, the Florida Gators return to action on Wednesday to face the Vermont Catamounts in a non-conference matchup at the O’Connell Center. The Gators came up short Sunday against No. 21 Purdue, 85-70 in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.

The Catamounts are 2-3 on the season and finished sixth in the same Tip-Off Tournament in which the Gators were runners-up. They are led by sophomore guard Trae Bell-Haynes, who averages 16.8 points per game. He was named to the Hall of Fame Tip-Off All-Tournament team. Guard Ernie Duncan and forward Ethan O’ Day are Vermont’s other double-figure scorers.

Florida and Vermont have a common opponent in Purdue. Vermont lost to the Boilermakers, 107-79 in West Lafayette, Ind., on Nov. 15.

Senior forward Dorian Finney-Smith leads the Gators in scoring through the first four games, averaging 12 points per game. Sophomore forward Devin Robinson is scoring 11.3 points per game with sophomore center John Egbunu at 10.5

Florida is shooting 45 percent from the field, but is holding opponents to only 38 percent. Coach Mike White hopes they will improve on their 64 percent shooting from the free throw line.

Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m. and the game is televised on the SEC Network.

The Gators welcome Florida Gulf Coast on Friday and then prepare for December’s schedule that includes road games against No. 15 Miami and No. 3 Michigan State.

The national college game of the day takes place off the mainland. No. 19 Vanderbilt will square off against No. 5 Kansas in the finals of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational in Lahaina, Hawaii. It is the only game featuring two ranked teams. Tip-off is 10 p.m. Eastern.

Back in Florida, Long Island University Brooklyn is in Miami to take on Florida International. Wednesday’s tip-off is 7 p.m.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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