Ole Miss Unveils 2009-10 Men's Hoops Schedule
OXFORD, Miss. - Eight Southeastern Conference home games, marquee non-league dates versus West Virginia and Southern Miss and an early-season trip to Puerto Rico highlight the full 2009-10 Ole Miss men's basketball schedule, announced by head coach Andy Kennedy on Thursday.
Ole Miss' slate of opponents includes 10 teams that advanced to postseason play and 11 teams that won at least 20 games last season. A minimum of nine contests will be featured on national television, and at least nine more are slated for live regional TV coverage, thanks in part to the SEC's landmark new TV contracts with the ESPN family of networks and CBS. Every league game is scheduled for live TV coverage.
The Rebels will host a total of 16 regular-season games in Oxford. Following a Nov. 6 exhibition game against Auburn University-Montgomery, Ole Miss will open the season on Nov. 13 against 2009 SWAC Champion Alabama State, which advanced to last year's NCAA Tournament.
Ole Miss hits the road early for a pre-Thanksgiving trip to San Juan for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Nov. 19 first-round matchup pits the Rebels against the Indiana Hoosiers (ESPN2) in the two programs' first-ever meeting. The tournament field also includes NCAA Final Four participant Villanova and traditional powers Dayton, Georgia Tech and Kansas State.
"Early on, we're going to have a tremendous challenge in Puerto Rico," Kennedy said. "I'm not sure Ole Miss has ever been part of a nationally televised tournament early in the season. We're lined up against Indiana on the same side of the bracket with Kansas State, and there are several more very good teams that we could end up facing."
Another highlight of the home non-league schedule is the return of in-state foe Southern Miss (Dec. 5) to Tad Smith Coliseum for the first time since an epic 113-107 double-overtime Ole Miss win in 1995. Also visiting Oxford are UALR (Nov. 16), Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (Nov. 29), McNeese State (Dec. 12), Centenary (Dec. 19), Jacksonville State (Dec. 29) and UCF (Jan. 5).
Road games include home-and-home return trips to Arkansas State (Dec. 2) and West Virginia (Dec. 23, ESPN2). The Mountaineers are expected to be among the top-ranked teams in the nation entering the campaign. Ole Miss will also face UTEP in a neutral-site affair on Dec. 16 in Southaven, Miss.
"We feel like we have a really good non-conference schedule that is going to prepare us for the rigors of SEC play," said Kennedy, whose Rebel teams have a combined 34-8 regular-season record against non-league foes during his tenure. "We have the possibility of playing both Villanova and West Virginia, who many people think will be the top two teams in the Big East this year. We're excited to go back to Southaven and play UTEP. We had tremendous support from the people in that community last time we were there. It's been a long time since Southern Miss came into our building, and that should be a tremendous game as well."
The Rebels open SEC play at home and will welcome defending SEC Tournament Champion Mississippi State to the "Tad Pad" on Jan. 9. Other home games include South Carolina (Jan. 20), Arkansas (Jan. 30), Alabama (Feb. 6), Vanderbilt (Feb. 18, ESPNU), Florida (Feb. 20, CBS), Auburn (Feb. 24) and defending league champion LSU (March 4, ESPN/2).
Ole Miss will make in-conference visits to Georgia (Jan. 13), Tennessee (Jan. 16), LSU (Jan. 23), Auburn (Jan. 28, ESPNU), Kentucky (Feb. 2, ESPN), Mississippi State (Feb. 11, ESPN/2), Alabama (Feb. 27, ESPN2) and Arkansas (March 6).
"I think the SEC is going to be strong this year," Kennedy said. "Last year there was much made about the fact that there were only three teams from our league in the NCAA Tournament, but in eight of the 10 prior years there were six teams selected, which is half the league. The SEC as a whole was terribly young and inexperienced last season, but most of the marquee players are back, which I think is going to fortify us top to bottom. I'm sure it's going to be as challenging as ever."
In addition to the Rebels' national TV coverage, regionally syndicated games will be televised on the SEC Network as part of ESPN Regional Television (ERT). Other games will be shown on Fox Sports Net and CSS. The majority of games not televised nationally will be available as a part of ESPN Full Court, the pay subscription college basketball out-of-market service, and on ESPN360.com. In addition, ERT will produce and distribute a studio show each Saturday afternoon during conference play and at the SEC Tournament.
National coverage of the SEC Basketball Tournament has been expanded with the semifinals and championship game broadcast on ESPN on ABC. The SEC Network will televise the first two rounds of the tournament which this year will be played March 11-14 in Nashville.For ticket information for the 2009-10 hoops season, call the Ole Miss Ticket Office at 662-915-7167.
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