LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Southeastern Conference announced its 14-team, 16-game women’s basketball schedule for the 2013-14 season on Tuesday and Kentucky’s slate is highlighted by eight home matchups, including battles in Memorial Coliseum with Florida, LSU and Vanderbilt, as well as road matchups at Georgia, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
This marks the fifth year of the 16-game schedule for women’s basketball and the second with 14 teams. The schedule is a single round-robin with one permanent opponent and two random opponents. Kentucky’s permanent partner is South Carolina, and for this season, UK will face Florida and Alabama in home-and-home matchups.
“Once again, our SEC schedule will be really challenging,” UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell said. “I feel good about our nonconference slate as it is designed to help us prepare for the SEC. You have to be focused and ready to go every night in the SEC because from top to bottom, the SEC is tough. I think it’s the best conference in the country.”
Kentucky opens league play on the road at Alabama on Jan. 2 before playing host to Florida for its SEC home opener on Jan. 5. The Wildcats will travel to Columbia, S.C., for a matchup with the Gamecocks on Jan. 9 and then welcome Missouri to Memorial Coliseum for the first time since 1989.
Another trip to Alabama awaits the Wildcats on Jan. 19 when they travel to Auburn, Ala., to the face the Tigers in Auburn Arena. Prior to hitting the road to Athens, Ga., on Jan. 30, UK will play host to Alabama (Jan. 23) and Arkansas (Jan. 26) in back-to-back home games.
UK looks for its third straight win over LSU at home when the Lady Tigers visit Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 2. Sandwiched in between road games at Florida on Feb. 9 and at Tennessee on Feb. 16 is a Thursday night home matchup with Ole Miss on Feb. 13. Former UK Hoops assistant coach Matt Insell will return to Memorial for the first time as the new head coach of the Rebels.
The Wildcats’ matchup at Tennessee will be showcased in a new ESPN Sunday afternoon package. The game is set to tip at 1 p.m. ET and is one of only five games in the package.
To close out the conference slate, UK will play host to South Carolina on Feb. 20 before traveling to Texas A&M and Mississippi State on Feb. 23 and Feb. 27, respectively.
Five seniors – Kastine Evans (Salem, Conn.), Samantha Drake (Bardstown, Ky.), Bernisha Pinkett (Washington, D.C.), DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif.) and Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio) – will be honored during a Senior Day ceremony prior to the regular season conference finale versus Vanderbilt on March 2.
Kentucky will head to Duluth, Ga., for the 2014 SEC Tournament in the Gwinnett Center for the second straight season. The tournament will include all 14 teams and begins Wednesday, March 5 and concludes with the championship game on Sunday, March 9.
The Wildcats, who were ranked No. 6 in an early preseason poll by ESPN.com columnist Charlie Crème, return four starters from last season’s Elite Eight squad, including All-SEC selections Stallworth and Walker, junior sharpshooter Jennifer O’Neill (Bronx, N.Y.), a Bridgeport Regional All-Tournament Team member, and Evans. New faces to the roster next season are freshmen guards and McDonald’s All-Americans Linnae Harper (Chicago) and Makayla Epps (Lebanon, Ky.,) and 6-foot-1 forward Kyvin Goodin-Rogers (Lebanon, Ky.).