From LSU Sports
BATON ROUGE – Fifteen games against 2012 NCAA Tournament teams and home showdowns against North Carolina State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Georgia and Kentucky, highlight the 2012-13 LSU women's basketball schedule that was announced on Friday.
The Lady Tigers will face six teams ranked in the final 2012 ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and they will get two of those teams twice this season – Texas A&M and Kentucky.
Should LSU earn a berth to the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the first and second round games will be played in the Maravich Center as the Lady Tigers host the postseason for the second consecutive year.
"We have a very challenging schedule against teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season," said LSU head coach Nikki Caldwell. "It's a good mix of teams from the ACC, the Big East and several quality mid-major schools. The (NCAA) committee has proven it places an importance on non-conference road games. We feel we have a solid schedule that represents that and will get our team ready for Southeastern Conference play."
For the second straight year, LSU opens the season against Wichita State with this contest being at home on Sunday, Nov. 11. The remaining four games in the month of November will be played on the road as the Lady Tigers make a trek to the Mid-Atlantic to face Hampton (Nov. 16) and No. 17 Georgetown (Nov. 19) in Washington D.C.
The following week, LSU will spend the Thanksgiving holiday in Miami, Fla., and participate in the Florida International Thanksgiving Classic. The tournament includes NCAA Tournament teams West Virginia and Iowa and WNIT participant FIU. The schedule for the FIU Classic is still to be determined.
Seven of LSU's eight games in the month of December will be played in the friendly confines of the Maravich Center. The December slate kicks off against North Carolina State on Sunday, Dec. 2. It will be the first meeting between the Lady Tigers and Wolfpack.
Five of the next seven contests are against in-state opponents beginning with Tulane on Dec. 9. Louisiana Tech and LSU continue their rivalry on Dec. 16 in Baton Rouge, while McNeese State, champions of the Southland Conference, makes its first appearance in the PMAC since 2006 on Dec. 21.
LSU's lone road contest in December will be in Fort Myers, Fla., as the Lady Tigers take on Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles won the Atlantic Sun Conference, advanced to the 2012 NCAA Tournament and concluded the season with a 29-3 overall record.
The Southeastern Conference slate begins at home against Ole Miss on Jan. 3. Five of LSU's next seven games are on the road starting at Florida on Jan. 6 and concluding at Auburn on Jan. 31. During that stretch, the Lady Tigers go to South Carolina on Jan. 17 and welcome home contests against Mississippi State on Jan. 13 and Vanderbilt on Jan. 20.
LSU gets to square off against defending SEC champion Kentucky twice. The Lady Tigers go to Lexington on Sunday, Jan. 27, while the Wildcats visit Baton Rouge on Sunday, Feb. 24. In 80 minutes of basketball last season, LSU trailed Kentucky for only 26 seconds, beating the Wildcats in Baton Rouge on Feb. 5 and knocking them off in the SEC Tournament semifinals on March 3.
The month of February begins a three-game homestand against teams who were all ranked in the top 20 of the final Coaches' poll. Texas A&M, the 2011 national champions and a 2012 Sweet 16 participant, comes to Baton Rouge for a special ESPN2 "Big Monday" tilt on Feb. 4.
The Aggies and Lady Tigers will be facing off for the first time since Dec. 20, 1994. It will also be A&M's first visit to Baton Rouge to meet LSU since Dec. 29, 1993.
"We welcome Texas A&M and Missouri to our conference," said Caldwell. "They are great additions to the league. Texas A&M becomes our permanent opponent with the new schedule format. It will be an exciting opportunity for our fans in a nationally televised game against a team that has won a national championship in Texas A&M."
Following the A&M game, LSU will have a quick turnaround before renewing its rivalry with Tennessee on Thursday, Feb. 7. Georgia closes the homestand on Sunday, Feb. 10.
On Feb. 21, the Lady Tigers make a trek to Missouri for the first time since Nov. 27, 1989. LSU's final regular season home game will be against Alabama on Thursday, Feb. 28 before heading to College Station to face Texas A&M again on Sunday, March 3.
The SEC once again recognizes "We Back Pat" week during Jan. 13-20. The week-long initiative is focused on bringing awareness and recognition to the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund of East Tennessee Foundation and its fight against Alzheimer's disease.
"I'm proud of the SEC for continuing this initiative in raising awareness for Alzheimer's," said Caldwell. "It obviously won't be the same without seeing Coach (Summitt) on the sidelines. We know the Tennessee program will continue to be outstanding and we look forward to the competition for years to come."
LSU seeks a return to the SEC Tournament championship game, which will be played on March 10 in Duluth, Ga. The expanded 14-team tournament begins on Wednesday, March 6. The league's top four finishers earn a double bye and will not play until Friday, March 8.
The 2013 NCAA Tournament first and second rounds hosted by LSU will be played on Sunday, March 24 and Tuesday, March 26. The NCAA Final Four returns to New Orleans for the first time since LSU's first appearance in 2004.
Game times and a television schedule will be announced by the SEC office in September. A complete promotional schedule for the 2012-13 season will also be announced at a later date.