Vols Basketball to Face Florida State to Open Emerald Coast Classic

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(utsports.com) Pairings for the 2019 Emerald Coast Classic were announced Monday, and Tennessee will face Florida State to begin the four-team tournament the day after Thanksgiving.

The two-day event takes place Nov. 29-30 in Niceville, Fla., on the campus of Northwest Florida State College. The other first-day matchup features Purdue against VCU. The winners and losers of Friday’s games meet on Saturday.

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Tickets will go on sale in later this summer (www.emeraldcoastclassic.com), and the semifinal round and championship game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

The Volunteers and Seminoles have met on the hardwood eight times previously, with Tennessee holding a 5-3 advantage. The teams haven’t met since 1989. The series is tied, 1-1, when contested at a neutral site.

Tennessee is 112-99 all-time against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. That includes a four-game win streak dating to December 2017.

The Vols enter the 2019-20 campaign riding a three-game win streak over opponents from the Sunshine State spanning the last two seasons.

Under the direction of longtime head coach Leonard Hamilton, Florida State reached the Sweet Sixteen last season and finished 29-8 (13-3 ACC) to set a new school record for wins. Tennessee also advanced to the 2019 Sweet Sixteen and tied its program record for victories with 31.

Returning FSU starters Trent Forrest (9.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and M.J. Walker (7.5 ppg, .328 3FG) lead a talented backcourt. The Seminoles also welcome a top-25 signing class highlighted by five-star forward Patrick Williams.

If the Vols are matched up against Purdue on Saturday, Nov. 30, it would mark the third straight season in which the teams met. Tennessee defeated the Boilermakers in the 2017 Battle 4 Atlantis, and Purdue scored an overtime win over the Vols in last season’s NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee’s last meeting against VCU came at the 2014 Veterans Classic, with the Rams earning the win. The Vols lead that series, 4-1.

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Rick Nyman grew up in Anniston, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. His television career started at WJSU-TV in Anniston where he had the opportunity to cover SEC football with Alabama and Auburn. Anniston is just 20 minutes from the Talladega Speedway, so NASCAR was a big part of his sports coverage. Due to this he was able to interview Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and several other top-name NASCAR drivers. Rick's next television job was in Savannah, Georgia, where he covered basketball player Kwame Brown (now with the Washington Wizards), who later became the first ever high school player selected as the top pick in the NBA draft. He covered the PGA Tour's annual swing thru Hilton Head and also had the opportunity of covering the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl appearance in 1999 in Miami. Rick especially enjoys all the atmosphere, tradition and drama of college football. He also likes profiling sports personalities and learning what drives them both on and off the field. If he's not covering sports, he's either watching Seinfield or David Letterman, playing golf, reading, or working out. What he enjoys about Chattanooga is the passion people have for sports. The mountainous region of Chattanooga reminds him of his hometown of Anniston, which also has big, beautiful trees and plenty of hills. You can contact Rick at rnyman@wdef.com.