Lady Vols hoops release schedule

The University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers, the defending 2007 NCAA Champs, released the basketball schedule for the 2007-08 season this afternoon.

In addition to running the familiar gauntlet of the perennial Southeastern Conference powerhouses, the Lady Vols will also tangle with a number of old and new rivals, including North Carolina, Rutgers, Oklahoma, Texas, Duke, Stanford and UCLA.

"Our schedule for the coming season is extremely competitive, exciting and challenging," said Lady Vol coach Pat Summitt, who is beginning her 34th season at Tennessee and is the NCAA's all-time winningest coach starting the year at 947-180. "As usual, we take on an aggressive schedule which allows us to prepare for post-season play.

"I'm pleased that we'll be playing 17 home dates (including the exhibition games) in our newly renovated arena. Our fans will be treated to a tremendous home schedule."

Schedule highlights include facing the other three teams from the 2007 NCAA Final Four in Rutgers, North Carolina and LSU – all in Knoxville.

"It'll be a Cleveland reunion (site of the 2007 Final Four) at various times this season at Thompson-Boling Arena," Summitt said.

North Carolina makes its first visit to Knoxville in 20 years as the two teams square off on ESPN2 on Dec. 2. Rutgers, the NCAA runner-up and the defending Big East Tournament champs, makes the trip to Knoxville and will face UT in an ESPN2 "Big Monday" showdown on Feb. 11. Also that week, LSU rolls into town for a Valentine's Day (Feb. 14) clash.

In all, UT will be facing competition from nine different conferences including four from the Big East, and a pair of universities each from the ACC, Big 12 and the Pac 10.

The season gets underway with a pair of exhibition tune-ups, the USA Women's Senior National Team on Nov. 4 and Carson-Newman on Nov. 6. The Lady Vols officially open the season at home on Nov. 11 facing Chattanooga.

The remainder of the November slate includes a trip to the Tampa-St. Pete Times Forum, site of the 2008 Women's Final Four, for the ESPNU Invitational while the Lady Vols will square-off with Oklahoma on Nov. 15 (ESPNU).

The Lady Vols return home to meet the Texas Longhorns on Nov. 18 in an ESPN2 showdown before traveling to Charleston, W.Va., for Alexis Hornbuckle's senior homecoming game versus West Virginia University on Nov. 21.

Longtime rival Louisiana Tech travels to Knoxville on Nov. 26 to round out the first month of the schedule.

Tennessee starts the December portion of its schedule at home taking on North Carolina in a Sunday night (Dec. 2) prime time meeting on ESPN2. The Lady Vols bounced the Tar Heels out of the 2007 NCAA Tournament in a Final Four semis matchup to advance to the title game.

The Lady Vols will then entertain Old Dominion (Dec. 5), Middle Tennessee (Dec. 13) and first-time Knoxville visitor Gonzaga (Dec. 16) at home before hitting the road for a pair of away games on the west coast.

UT will make its first appearance at Pauley Pavilion since 1999 taking on the UCLA Bruins on Dec. 19 and will conclude its Pac 10 road swing at Stanford on Dec. 22 before breaking for the Christmas holidays.

In January, the Lady Vols open the 2008 portion of the schedule with Big East week renewing its rivalry with DePaul, after a two season hiatus, on Jan. 2 (ESPNU) in Chicago. Tennessee then travels to South Bend, Indiana, to face Notre Dame on Jan. 5 in a marquee CBS showdown.

Back in Knoxville for the first time in almost a month, UT opens SEC play facing Auburn at home on Jan. 10. The Big Orange then travels to South Carolina (Jan. 13) and Kentucky (Jan. 17) before hosting Vanderbilt (Jan. 20) and Arkansas (Jan. 24) at the Arena. The Lady Vols step out of conference play for a "Big Monday" meeting at Duke (Jan. 28) and conclude the first month of the year at Mississippi (Jan. 31).

February finds the Lady Vols enjoying five home games taking on Kentucky (Feb. 3), a "Big Monday" meeting with Rutgers on ESPN2 (Feb. 11), LSU on Feb. 14, Mississippi State (Feb. 24) and Florida (Feb. 28). February road trips include jaunts to Mississippi State (Feb. 7), Vanderbilt (Feb. 17) and to Alabama (Feb. 21).

UT plays a rare March regular season game traveling to Georgia for a Mar. 2 contest in Athens, Ga. Tennessee will play home-and-home SEC games with Kentucky and Mississippi State this season to go along with its annual home-and-home traditional rival contests versus Vanderbilt.

"It's no surprise that we've taken on another challenging schedule for the coming season," said Summitt. "I'm excited that our fans will get to enjoy such a great line-up of games in Thompson-Boling Arena.

"Once again this year, the SEC – from top to bottom - will be as strong as it has ever been," professed Summitt. "I expect to see several SEC teams ranked among the nation's top 10. To be sure, the SEC schedule will be extremely challenging."

In the postseason, the 2008 Southeastern Conference Tournament will venture back to Nashville, Mar. 6-9, while the NCAA festivities kick off with First/Second Round games Mar. 22-25 and four NCAA Regionals, Mar. 29-Apr. 1. The season will culminate with the 2008 NCAA Final Four at the St. Pete Times Forum, in Tampa, Fla., April 6 & 8.

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