The 2016-17 Kentucky men’s basketball schedule is now complete as the league office announced the upcoming conference schedule on Tuesday. The Wildcats are seeking their third consecutive regular-season league crown and fifth under eighth-year head coach John Calipari with an 18-game schedule beginning on Dec. 29 at Ole Miss.
Kentucky will play all 13 Southeastern Conference teams at least once during league play in addition to home-and-home dates with Georgia and Texas A&M, and permanent opponents Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
UK’s schedule is balanced with no road trip or stretch of home games lasting more than two in a row. Kentucky tips off the season on the road at Ole Miss to play in the newly-constructed Pavilion at Ole Miss for the first time on Dec. 29 – the earliest the SEC slate has opened since the 1987-88 season.
Kentucky hosts back-to-back contests in Rupp Arena following the league lid-lifter. Up first is a date with last season’s co-SEC champs in Texas A&M on Jan. 3 before welcoming Arkansas on Jan. 7.
Kentucky will then alternate home-and-away designations for the next 10 SEC contests.
UK’s home slate in that stretch includes Auburn (Jan. 14), South Carolina (Jan. 21), Georgia (Jan. 31), LSU (Feb. 7) and Tennessee (Feb. 14). The road contests include Vanderbilt (Jan. 10), Mississippi State (Jan. 17), Tennessee (Jan. 24), Florida (Feb. 4) and Alabama (Feb. 11). In between the stretch, UK takes on Kansas at home on Jan. 28 in the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
The Wildcats’ regular season will begin to round down with sets of away games at Georgia on Feb. 18 and at Missouri on Feb. 21, before home contests with Florida on Feb. 25 and Vanderbilt on Feb. 28.
The season will conclude away from home with a rematch against Texas A&M on March 4. In each of UK’s last three outings in College Station, Texas, the game has needed extra time to decide a winner. UK won matchups in 2013 and 2015 before dropping a 79-77 close call a season ago.
The SEC had seven teams advance to postseason play a season ago, including three in the NCAA Tournament. The league will turn to new faces as no player from last season’s First-Team All-SEC squad returns in 2016-17. A wealth of experience roams the sidelines, however, as 11 of the 13 coaches have captured a league coach of the year honor throughout their career, while another, Avery Johnson of Alabama, is a former NBA Coach of the Year. Additionally, 11 coaches have directed their teams to at least once conference title or tournament title in their careers.
Calipari leads the way in all categories with 14 league titles, 13 tournament championships and nine coach of the year honors.
In addition to the conference schedule, UK has also confirmed times and TV networks for several of its nonconference games (all times are Eastern).
· Nov. 15 vs. Michigan State (Madison Square Garden, New York) – ESPN at 7 p.m.
· Nov. 28 vs. Arizona State (Imperial Arena, Paradise Island, Bahamas) – ESPN2 at 7 p.m.
· Dec. 3 vs. UCLA (Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.) – CBS at 12:30 p.m.
· Dec. 11 vs. Hofstra (Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.) – ESPN at 3 p.m.
· Dec. 17 vs. North Carolina (MGM Grand Arena, Las Vegas) – CBS at 5:45 p.m.
· Dec. 21 at Louisville (KFC YUM! Center, Louisville, Ky.) – ESPN at 7 p.m.
Combined with the conference schedule, Big Blue Madness, Blue-White scrimmage, and exhibition games, UK has 29 events scheduled to appear on either ESPN, ESPN2, CBS or the SEC Network. That does not include still-to-be announced TV designations for six nonconference games and the SEC Tournament.
All of the games included in the ESPN package (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and the SEC Network) will be available through WatchESPN accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the ESPN app, and streamed on televisions through Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360, or Xbox One to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider. Each of the CBS Sports games will be streamed on CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports mobile app and mobile website.
Kentucky’s 2016-17 season will tip off in Rupp Arena on Oct. 14 with the annual Big Blue Madness beginning at 7 p.m. The Blue-White contest follows just a week a later on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in Rupp.
Clarion, Calipari’s alma mater, will serve as UK’s first exhibition opponent on Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. The Wildcats’ final exhibition matchup will come vs. Asbury on Nov. 6, also at 7 p.m.
Remaining network and time adjustments will be announced at a later date.
Kentucky’s regular season begins Nov. 11 with 2016 NCAA Tournament participant Stephen F. Austin in Rupp Arena.