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Tickets Go On Sale Saturday for SEC/BIG EAST Invitational at St. Pete Times Forum



CHICAGO - Tickets for the third annual SEC/BIG EAST Invitational, including two games at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, will go on sale Saturday, Sept. 12, at 10 a.m. ET.

The two-night men's college basketball tournament takes place in two cities, with a doubleheader Tuesday, Dec. 9, in New York City followed by a doubleheader Wednesday, Dec. 10, in Tampa. The schedule at St. Pete Times Forum will feature DePaul taking on Mississippi State at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by Syracuse facing Florida at 9 p.m.

Fans who wish to attend the Dec.10 doubleheader at St. Pete Times Forum can purchase tickets online at www.Ticketmaster.com or charge by phone by calling the St. Pete Times Forum box office at (800) 745-3000. Prices are $40, $25 and $15.

ESPN2 will televise DePaul vs. Mississippi State on Wednesday, Dec. 10, at 6:30 p.m. ET from the St. Pete Times Forum, while ESPN will feature Syracuse vs. Florida at 9 p.m. Also part of the event is a Dec. 9 doubleheader at Madison Square Garden in New York City, featuring Georgia vs. St. John's at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2, followed by Kentucky vs. Connecticut at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN.

"We're thrilled to be a part of the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational for the first time, and to be able to do so in our home state," said Florida coach Billy Donovan. "We've always enjoyed the great support we've received in the Tampa area, and having played at the St. Pete Times Forum each of the last three years, we know it's a first-class facility.

"I have so much respect for Syracuse and Coach (Jim) Boeheim. This will be the third time in five years we've played Syracuse, and his teams are as challenging to prepare for now as they were when I was a player."

"We're excited to be playing in this year's SEC/BIG EAST Invitational," said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. "Playing a high-caliber program like Florida is going to be a tremendous challenge and one we are looking forward to."

"Year in, year out the BIG EAST is one of the best conferences in the country," said Mississippi State head coach Rick Stansbury. "I think everyone will see DePaul as one of the most improved teams in the country. It's going to be a challenge, but we are excited about this opportunity and look forward to representing the Southeastern Conference."

"We're looking forward to participating in this year's SEC/BIG EAST Invitational in Tampa," said DePaul head coach Jerry Wainwright. "It will be a great chance for our fans, alums and supporters in Florida to see us on the court. Mississippi State will be a great challenge for our team and we are excited about the opportunity ahead of us."

Teams invited to participate in the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational are chosen by ESPN in consultation with the conferences and are based on geographic and competitive criteria. 

Six of the eight participating teams reached the postseason in 2008-09, with Connecticut, Mississippi State and Syracuse playing in the NCAA Tournament. The Orange made it to the Sweet Sixteen, while the Huskies advanced to the Final Four. Florida and Kentucky played in the National Invitation Tournament, while St. John's played in the College Basketball Invitational.

The BIG EAST holds a 5-3 record in the first two years of the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational. The two conferences have combined to produce four of the last seven NCAA Men's Basketball Champions (Florida - 2007 and 2006; Connecticut - 2004; Syracuse - 2003) and seven of the last 14 national champions (Connecticut - 1999; Kentucky - 1998 and 1996).

ESPN Regional Television/Event Ownership
The nation's largest syndicator of collegiate sports programming, ESPN Regional Television (ERT) annually produces more than 1,000 telecasts of sporting events. Programming includes football, basketball, NCAA events, golf and NHRA events accounting for more than 2,200 live and/or original hours of programming. In addition to event ownership, ERT is the production headquarters for ESPNU, the 24-hour college sports network; syndication rights-holder and producer of national, regional and local shows for college conferences (e.g. - SEC, BIG EAST, Big 12, Mid-American, Sun Belt, WAC).

ESPN Regional Television markets and/or owns several sporting events, including collegiate football events: the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, Texas); MAACO Bowl Las Vegas; New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Papajohns.com Bowl (Birmingham, Ala.); Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl (Honolulu); St. Petersburg Bowl; the MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney (Orlando, Fla.); and The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards; collegiate basketball events: the 76 Classic (Anaheim, Calif.); Charleston Classic (S.C.); ESPNU Road to the Championship (Women; San Antonio); Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Old Spice Classic (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan); SEC/BIG EAST Invitational; All-College Classic (Oklahoma City) and BracketBusters; as well as the ESPN National Golf Challenge presented by Callaway. For more information, visit ESPNPlus.com.