Lady Vols release basketball slate

Tennessee has released the basketball schedule for the 2009-10 season. In addition to the expanded SEC slate of 16 games, the Lady Vols will also run the gauntlet of powerhouses tangling with Baylor, Texas Tech, Virginia, Middle Tennessee, UCLA, George Washington, Texas, Rutgers, Louisville, Stanford, San Francisco, Old Dominion and Oklahoma on the non-conference side.

"Another competitive schedule for the coming year," said Lady Vol coach Pat Summitt, who is beginning her 36th season at Tennessee and is the NCAA's all-time winningest coach starting the campaign with a 1,005-193 overall record. "This schedule is exciting and challenging and will help to prepare us for post-season play."

In the first month of the season, Tennessee will appear in three "Classics." The Lady Vols will play host to Baylor in the regular season opener in the State Farm Classic on Nov. 15 in Knoxville; travel to San Antonio, Texas, site of the 2010 NCAA Final Four on Nov. 17 to face Texas Tech in the ESPN Classic; and conclude the cavalcade of "Classics" at the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York on Dec. 13 facing rival Rutgers.

"Those are three great tests for our team," said Summitt. "I'm excited to be opening at home against Baylor and look forward to taking our team to San Antonio to face Texas Tech and to the Garden to play Rutgers – great teams and exciting venues."

In all, UT will be facing competition from nine different conferences including the Atlantic 10, ACC, Big 12, BIG EAST, Colonial, Pac 10, Southeastern, Sun Belt and West Coast conferences.

"Once again, I'm thrilled that we'll be playing 17 home dates (including the exhibition games) in our arena. Our young team will certainly benefit from playing in front of our great fans -- they will be treated to a tremendous home schedule," said Summitt.

The season gets underway with a pair of exhibition tuneups in Knoxville as Carson-Newman comes to town on Nov. 5 and an old foe from the AIAW national scene of the 1970s, Delta State University makes its first appearance at UT in 30 years in a game on Nov. 9. The Lady Vols officially open the season at home on Nov. 15 facing Baylor.

The remainder of the November slate includes a trip to San Antonio to face Texas Tech at the AT&T Center on Nov. 17 and back-to-back road games at Virginia on Nov. 22 and a trip mid-state to face Middle Tennessee on Nov. 25. Former Lady Vol player and assistant coach Nikki Caldwell, now head coach at UCLA, will bring her Bruins to Knoxville on Nov. 28 to round out the month.

Tennessee starts the December portion of its schedule with consecutive home games facing George Washington on Dec. 1 and Texas on Dec. 6 before taking a break for final exams. The Lady Vols will resume playing hoops on Dec. 13 facing Rutgers in Madison Square Garden on Dec. 13. A new first-time opponent for Tennessee will be Louisville, the 2009 NCAA Championship runner-up, when it visits Thompson-Boling on Dec. 16.

The Lady Vols will then hit the road for a pair of games traveling to Stanford on Dec. 19 and then swinging up to San Francisco to play former Lady Vol Tanya Haave's Dons on Dec. 22. Following a break for the Christmas holidays, Tennessee concludes the 2009 portion of the schedule with a game against Old Dominion in Knoxville on Dec. 30.

In January, the Lady Vols open the 2010 side of the schedule facing its fourth Big 12 team of the season as Oklahoma comes to Knoxville on Jan. 3 for the final regular season non-conference matchup.

Following that game, the SEC portion of the schedule cranks up as South Carolina comes to town on Jan. 7. This season marks the first time since the 2004-05 campaign that the Lady Vols won't play a non-conference foe in the middle of SEC league play.

January continues with road games at Mississippi State (Jan. 10), Florida (Jan. 14), Georgia (Jan. 21), LSU (Jan. 24), and South Carolina (Jan. 31). Other first month home games include Vanderbilt on Jan. 17 and Auburn on Jan. 28.

To open the month of February, Arkansas visits Knoxville on the 4th. UT then travels for an ESPN2 "Big Monday" meeting at Vanderbilt (Feb. 8) and to Mississippi (Feb. 11). Other February home dates include Florida (Feb. 14), an ESPN2 "Big Monday" meeting with LSU (Feb. 22), Kentucky on Feb. 25 and Mississippi (Feb. 28). The other February road trip is a jaunt to Alabama (Feb. 18).

In the new expanded 16-game SEC schedule, the Lady Vols play home-and-home games with Florida, LSU, Mississippi and South Carolina this season, to go along with its annual home-and-home traditional rival contests versus Vanderbilt.

"The SEC – from top to bottom -- will be as strong and unpredictable as it has ever been," Summitt said. "Great coaches and some incredible young talent is going to make a tough league, even tougher. To be sure, the SEC schedule will be extremely challenging."

In the postseason, the 2010 SEC Tournament will venture back to popular Duluth, Ga., March 4-7. When the height of March Madness begins and the NCAA Tournament is announced on Mar. 15, four teams will be heading to Thompson-Boling Arena as women's basketball fans will be treated to NCAA First/Second Round action in Knoxville, Tenn., Mar. 20 & 22.

Other NCAA First/Second Round games will be played at 15 additional sites from Mar. 20-23. The NCAA Regional Championships will be contested, Mar. 27-30 and the season will culminate with the 2010 NCAA Final Four at the Alamodome, in San Antonio, Texas, April 4 & 6.

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