Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Florida guard Jalen Hudson (3) drives against Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver in the second round of the 2018 NCAA tournament last month. Hudson is exploring his NBA draft position, making him iffy for the Gators’ game against West Virginia next December.

 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia basketball team still plans on playing at Madison Square Garden next December, though the opponent has changed.

After Indiana pulled out of the Jimmy V Classic matchup, ESPN organizers found Florida as a willing replacement.

“Going to New York around that time, having a little bit of exposure in that area, and playing a quality opponent is the important part of it,” said West Virginia athletics director Shane Lyons.

The matchup change was first reported by FanRagSports.

While the Hoosiers are coming off a 16-15 finish, Florida went 21-13 before losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Currently in wait-and-see mode as leading scorer Jalen Hudson explores the NBA draft, the Gators must replace senior point guard Chris Chiozza, the program’s career assists leader. Incoming is the nation’s No. 15 recruiting class next season led by five-star guard Andrew Nembhard.

The Mountaineers have faced Florida only once during Bob Huggins’ tenure, during January 2016 in Gainesville for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Huggins continually has sought to maintain recruiting ties by playing nonconference games in New York since West Virginia left the Big East.

Other nonconference dates

West Virginia also revealed the remainder of its nonconference schedule for next season, highlighted by Pitt visiting Morgantown for the first time since 2012:

Saturday, Nov. 3 — Alderson Broaddus (exhibition)
Friday, Nov. 9 — Buffalo
Nov. 15-18 — Myrtle Beach Invitational
Saturday, Nov. 24 — Valparaiso
Wednesday, Nov. 28 — Rider
Saturday, Dec. 1 — Youngstown State
Saturday, Dec. 8  — Pitt
Saturday, Dec. 22 — Jacksonville State
Sunday, Dec. 30  — Lehigh
Saturday, Jan. 29 — Big 12/SEC Challenge (TBA)

The Myrtle Beach event includes Wake Forest, Cal State Fullerton, Saint Joseph’s, UCF, Valparaiso, and Western Kentucky, with an eighth team yet to be determined.

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