NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With a challenging non-conference slate that includes road matchups at defending national champion Kentucky, Memphis and Ole Miss as well as a pair of contests against Belmont, Scott Sanderson’s youthful Lipscomb men’s basketball team’s schedule is set for the 2012-13 campaign.
“Our schedule is definitely going to be challenging,” said Sanderson. “This is probably one of the most challenging schedules we’ve had. With Memphis, Kentucky and Ole Miss, who I think is going to be a really good SEC team, along with Murray State and Austin Peay, we’ve got some very good non-conference games that should prepare us for league play in January.”
Following a tune-up exhibition against longtime foe Freed Hardeman on Nov. 1, the Bisons lift the lid on the schedule on Nov. 9 in style hosting Belmont in the 131st installment of the “Battle of the Boulevard”.
“Those games are important to us. Having a couple of marquee games at home like Belmont and Murray State, who will be the first top-25 team to ever come in here and play, is huge.”
LU then hosts Maryville, one of six in-state foes that will come to Allen Arena, on Nov. 12
The first road trip of the season then awaits on Nov. 14 as Lipscomb heads to former A-Sun foe Gardner Webb before a Thanksgiving weekend trek to Oxford, Miss. to battle Southeastern Conference up-and-comer Ole Miss.
“Ole Miss has a lot of kids back and they’re big, strong and athletic. They’ll obviously be a big challenge for us. “
Following the tilt with the Rebels, the Bisons return home on Nov. 26 to host 2012 Cinderella, Murray State, who finished 31-2 a year ago earning a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament. LU continues home action on Nov. 30 hosting Tennessee Tech in a contest that will feature a “Jingle in your Jammies” promotion benefitting the Juvenile Arthritis Foundation.
A return trip down the “Boulevard” opens play in December as the Bisons make the trek to the Curb Event Center for the second of two games against Belmont. The final home game of the 2012 calendar year is set for Dec. 8 as UT Martin comes to Nashville before the team hits the road for five straight road games.
The extended road trip gets started on Dec. 15 as Lipscomb visits Kentucky at Rupp Arena for a contest against the SEC power.
“Of all the places we’ve played at from North Carolina on down, Kentucky is the best atmosphere there is. There are none any better than that. Those are passionate fans and to me, a passionate fan base is one like Kentucky when they sell out every game. It’s not about who they’re playing; they’re coming to watch the Wildcats. It doesn’t matter, who they play and that to me is when you know they’re passionate about their home team.”
A Dec. 18 tilt at Austin Peay then gets sandwiched in between the battle with the Wildcats and a Dec. 20 throwdown at Memphis before the Christmas break.
“Memphis has been like Kentucky for a long time and has great fan support. They’re an extremely athletic team and we’ve played them the last several years and recruit down in the area a lot. That makes it a good benefit to us to play down there.”
A New Year’s Eve affair greets the Bisons after the break as A-Sun play opens on the road at North Florida followed by a Jan. 2 contest to open 2013 at Jacksonville.
Sanderson’s club returns home after a 28 days on Jan. 5 to host in-state foe ETSU in the conference home opener ahead of a Jan. 7 meeting against USC Upstate, who advanced to the postseason a year ago in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT).
“The A-Sun should be very good again this year,” said Sanderson. “The league has been ranked around the top 15 in RPI for the last five or six years and that’s unbelievable. I don’t think it will be any different this year. There are a lot of good teams in the league and it’s really balanced. The bottom line is, if you don’t come ready to play home or away, you’re going to get beat.”
Lipscomb continues A-Sun action on Jan. 11 with the first visit in school history to the Bank of Kentucky Center to take on league newcomer Northern Kentucky. Road play continues for LU on Jan. 17 against Florida Gulf Coast and Jan. 19 against Stetson in a return trip to the “Sunshine State”.
The Bisons return home to host Kennesaw State on Jan. 24 before CIT champion Mercer comes to the “Music City” on Jan. 26. LU wraps up the month of January with a return trip to take on Upstate before catching ETSU on Feb. 2 on the way back home.
Feb. 8 is the date for the Northern Kentucky Norse to make their first appearance at Allen Arena before a Valentine’s night special against Stetson. FGCU then comes to town to wrap up the three-game homestand on Feb. 16 before LU makes return trips to Mercer and Kennesaw State on Feb. 21 and 23, respectively.
Lipscomb closes out the 2012-13 season at home on Feb. 28 hosting the Jacksonville Dolphins before wrapping up the regular season as “March Madness” begins on March 2 against North Florida.