UK Women's Basketball

Tough UK women's schedule includes Duke, Irish

Skylar Diggins and Notre Dame will play at Kentucky Nov. 21.
Skylar Diggins and Notre Dame will play at Kentucky Nov. 21. AP

Kentucky has added some bulk and some big-ticket games for Memorial Coliseum to its basketball schedule, which was released Wednesday.

The schedule will feature seven opponents who finished in the nation's final top-25 poll last season and 13 teams that advanced to post-season play. There also are at least three nationally televised games.

UK, which is expected to be among the nation's top 25 when pre-season polls are released, has scheduled tough non-conference games versus Notre Dame and at Duke.

"I feel this is the most challenging non-conference schedule we've had in my four years at Kentucky," Coach Matthew Mitchell said in the news release. "The main objective of a non-conference schedule is to prepare us for SEC play and without a doubt, this non-conference portion is tough."

The season opens with an 11 a.m. game on Nov. 12 against Morehead State. Nine days later, Memorial Coliseum will host Notre Dame, which advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 last season and features one of the top players in the nation in Skylar Diggins. Former Lexington Catholic star Natalie Novosel also plays for the Irish. That also will be UK's annual "Pack the House" game.

The Duke contest, which will be played Jan. 4 on ESPNU, is just the third meeting between the programs. The last was in 1995.

Other notable non-conference road games include the yearly rivalry against Louisville (Dec. 5 at Louisville's new arena), 11-time defending Southern Conference regular-season champion Chattanooga (Dec. 11) and Middle Tennessee State (Dec. 29).

One oddity is a series of two games in two days at Memorial Coliseum. The first against Middle, followed by a game 24 hours later against Tennessee-Martin.

The Cats also will face Murray State in a tournament in late November in Hattiesburg, Miss.

The Southeastern Conference schedule remains at 16 games, but it still has no divisional schedule. In a rematch of last season's SEC Tournament championship game, Tennessee will play in Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 7 on ESPN2. Six days later UK will be on ESPN2 again, this time versus Louisiana State.

"Clearly, there are higher expectations for our team than previous seasons but we are excited about that," Mitchell said. "The SEC schedule is once again very difficult and I really try not to look at it because it makes me stay awake at night thinking about it. It's a very difficult schedule."

Kentucky opens conference play at Arkansas on Jan. 6 then returns home for four of its next five games.

UK's final home game of the season will be against the Razorbacks on Feb. 24, which will serve as Senior Day.

Of the final six SEC games, four will be on the road.

The 2011 SEC Tournament returns to Nashville at the Bridgestone Arena on March 3-6.

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