August 19, 2011 8:09:00 AM
OXFORD -- University of Mississippi men''s basketball coach Andy Kennedy announced Thursday another exciting season will begin in November.
The Rebels'' schedule features nine teams that won 20 or more games last season, and 10 squads that reached postseason play. Among them are Southeastern Conference foes University of Kentucky and University of Florida, which reached the NCAA Final Four and Elite Eight, respectively, as well as marquee non-conference games against Miami and Penn State.
Other schedule highlights include a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands and a Big East/SEC Challenge tilt at DePaul.
"Our non-league schedule is going to prepare us for the rigors of SEC play," Kennedy said. "The quality of opponents we will face will test our abilities night in and night out."
A minimum of six contests will be featured on national television, and at least 12 more will be on live regional TV coverage. Every league game will be televised live.
The Rebels will play host to 14 regular-season games in Oxford, including six in the non-league. Following a Nov. 3 exhibition game against North Alabama, Ole Miss will open the season Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Monroe. Other home games against non-conference foes include Miami (Nov. 25), which won 21 games and appeared in the NIT quarterfinals last year, and SMU (Jan. 3), which also won 20 games.
Ole Miss also will be tested away from Tad Smith Coliseum with games at DePaul (Dec. 1), Penn State (Dec. 4), Southern Miss (Dec. 17), and Dayton (Dec. 30). Before any of those games, the Rebels will travel to the Paradise Jam on Nov. 18-21 in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The eight-team tournament includes Drexel, Marquette, and Virginia. Ole Miss will play Drake in the first round. Kennedy''s squad also will square off against Middle Tennessee State (Dec. 21) in a neutral-site affair in Southaven.
"The Virgin Islands trip will show us a lot about our team early in the season, and it should only help us to face teams like DePaul, Penn State and Dayton on the road before we get into SEC play," Kennedy said.
Ole Miss will open SEC play Jan. 7 at LSU. It will mark the 11th time in the past 14 years the Rebels will begin SEC play on the road.
The 2012 SEC home schedule includes teams expected to be among the nation''s best this year. Ole Miss will play host to Arkansas (Jan. 11) and Mississippi State (Jan. 18). Back-to-back East opponents will come to Oxford next in defending SEC champion Florida (Jan. 26, ESPN or ESPN2) and South Carolina (Jan. 28). The rest of the league home schedule includes Auburn (Feb. 11), Vanderbilt (Feb. 16, ESPN or ESPN2), LSU (Feb. 25), and defending SEC West champion Alabama (March 3).
Ole Miss will make in-conference visits to Auburn (Jan. 14), Georgia (Jan. 21), Alabama (Feb. 4, ESPN or ESPN2), Mississippi State (Feb. 9, ESPN or ESPN2), defending SEC tournament champion Kentucky (Feb. 18), Tennessee (Feb. 22), and Arkansas (Feb. 28, ESPNU).
"The SEC schedule is always a challenge," Kennedy said. "Our league is poised to have a great year!"
The SEC tournament will be March 8-11 at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans. The semifinals and championship game will be broadcast on ESPN on ABC, while the first rounds will be shown on the SEC Network.