No Kentucky home basketball game for Tennessee Vols

photo Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin talks with Trae Golden (11) in this file photo.


Date Opponent Time• Nov. 12 at Xavier TBD• Nov. 16 South Carolina-Upstate, TBD• Nov. 18 The Citadel TBD• Nov. 22 Tennessee State TBD• Nov. 28 vs. UTEP (Battle 4 Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas) 9:30 p.m.• Nov. 29 vs. Iowa or Xavier (Battle 4 Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas) 1 p.m. or 7 p.m.• Nov. 30 Opponent TBD (Battle 4 Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas) TBD• Dec. 7 Tennessee Tech TBD• Dec. 14 at Wichita State 2 p.m.• Dec. 18 North Carolina State 7 p.m.• Dec. 23 Morehead State 7 p.m.• Dec. 30 Virginia TBD• Jan. 4 Tusculum College TBD• Jan. 7 at LSU 7 p.m.• Jan. 11 Texas A&M 6 p.m.• Jan. 15 Auburn 7 p.m.• Jan. 18 at Kentucky Noon• Jan. 22 Arkansas 8 p.m.• Jan. 25 at Florida 4 p.m.• Jan. 29 Ole Miss 8 p.m.• Feb. 1 at Alabama 8 p.m.• Feb. 5 at Vanderbilt 8 p.m.• Feb. 8 South Carolina 3 p.m.• Feb. 11 Florida 7 p.m.• Feb. 15 at Missouri 4 p.m.• Feb. 18 Georgia 9 p.m.• Feb. 22 at Texas A&M 3 p.m.• Feb. 26 at Mississippi State 8 p.m.• March 1 Vanderbilt Noon• March 5 at Auburn 8 p.m.• March 8 Missouri 4 p.m.

KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee's schedule for the upcoming men's basketball season is missing a familiar shade of blue.

For the first time since 1953, the Volunteers will not play Kentucky twice during the regular season, instead only visiting the Wildcats in mid-January in the second year of the SEC's new three-year scheduling format established at the league's spring meetings last year.

Both the SEC and Tennessee released their schedules Tuesday.

"We want to play the best teams," third-year Vols coach Cuonzo Martin said Tuesday afternoon. "Kentucky's a very talented team. Kentucky and Tennessee's had some great games over the years. Of course you want to play Kentucky, but I don't know if 'upset' is the word.

"You play the schedule that's presented to you. If the league makes the schedule, they don't let you handpick the schedule. This is the schedule that's presented to us, we play the games that's presented to us, and we go out and compete."

When the SEC added Missouri and Texas A&M, it did away with divisions in basketball, moved to an 18-game conference schedule and gave each team one permanent rival. For Tennessee, that was Vanderbilt. Kentucky was paired with Florida.

Kentucky was one of four rotating opponents the Vols faced twice last season, but this year UK is one of eight opponents Tennessee plays just once as part of the scheduling model that ensures each program will play its permanent rival six times and every other program four times in three seasons.

This season, the Vols play Texas A&M, Missouri, Auburn and Florida twice each, visits Kentucky, LSU, Alabama and Mississippi State and hosts Arkansas, South Carolina, Ole Miss and Georgia.

For the first time since the 1992-93 season, Tennessee will start the season with a true road game -- at Xavier on Nov. 12. The Vols visit Wichita State, a Final Four team from last season, on Dec. 14. Tennessee's marquee nonconference home games are against North Carolina State (Dec. 18) and Virginia (Dec. 30).

Tennessee's early-season tournament this season is the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. The Vols open the eight-team Thanksgiving week tournament against UTEP and will play either Xavier again or Iowa in their second game. The other half of the bracket includes Kansas, Wake Forest, Villanova and Southern California.

"In my three years here I've thought we've had a good nonconference schedule," Martin said. "The only time that I had questions with our nonconference schedule was probably last season -- obviously I'm the one that makes the schedule -- when we played back-to-back games, road games, at Georgetown and Virginia.

"Outside of that, from a schedule standpoint, being challenging with good opponents, the previous two years and this year have been great."

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