LEXINGTON, Ky. – Composing a challenging schedule that encompasses a multitude of playing styles has continually prepared head coach Craig Skinner’s teams for a run at the Southeastern Conference title and post-season berths. Skinner has once again achieved those standards with the unveiling of the 2016 non-conference schedule on Thursday.
UK will play 11 total non-conference matches with six of those opponents advancing to the NCAA Tournament a season ago. Kentucky’s non-conference schedule features three early season tournaments and a date at rival Louisville as the teams meet for the eighth consecutive season.
“We’ve been able to put together a great schedule,” Skinner said. “So many great matches are ahead of us during the first few weeks of the season, which will provide plenty of motivation for our players this summer. We have always scheduled the right way and this year is no exception. Our staff can’t wait to start the preparation to compete this fall.”
The Wildcats concluded 2015 with a 21-10 mark, finishing second in the SEC at 14-4 in league play. Kentucky made its unprecedented 11th-consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament boasting four players who earned All-SEC recognition. Three of those recipients return in 2016 in Kaz Brown, Ashley Dusek and Brooke Morgan.
Kentucky will begin the 2016 on the road in back-to-back weekends for just the second time in Skinner’s tenure. UK also opened on the road in two of the three opening weekends during his inaugural season in 2005.
Up first for the Cats will be a road trip to West Lafayette, Ind., as the Purdue Boilermakers will host a two-day round-robin tournament. Kentucky will debut the season with two matches on Aug. 26 the official opening day of the 2016 season. UK will take on Washington State at Noon before returning to the court later that evening for a match vs. Wyoming at 5 p.m. Kentucky will then face the host team on Aug. 27 at 5 p.m. in the featured match of the weekend. The Boilermakers have advanced to 10 of the last 12 NCAA Tournaments which included a run to the second round in 2015.
For the third consecutive season, UK will join Southern Cal, Creighton and Northern Iowa in one of the premier events in the country. This year’s round-robin tournament will be played on the campus of Southern Cal in Los Angeles. UK will meet up with the host team and 2015 Final Four participant on Sept. 2 at 11 p.m. ET. Kentucky will then play two matches on Sept. 3 beginning with Creighton who advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2015 at 3 p.m. The Cats will conclude action with traditional powerhouse Northern Iowa at 8 p.m.
The Wildcats will make their Memorial Coliseum debut on Sept. 9 when UK plays host to the annual Bluegrass Battle. Kentucky’s home opener will feature Marquette, an NCAA Tournament team from a season ago, at 7:30 p.m. The Wildcats will then return to the court on Sept. 10 for two matches. UK will take on Virginia at 11 a.m. and Saint Louis at 7:30 p.m.
Kentucky will make the 70-mile drive west for the annual meeting with Louisville on Sept. 15. This year’s matchup will take place at 7 p.m. in the YUM! Center. The Wildcats have captured the last three meetings between the squads including a 3-1 win in Memorial Coliseum a season ago.
UK will conclude non-conference action with a home date against Lipscomb on Sept. 17. A time will be determined once the home football game is scheduled and announced a later date. UK and the six-time NCAA participant, Bisons, will meet for the sixth consecutive season. Kentucky has a perfect 5-0 record during that span.
TV information and the 2016 SEC schedule will be announced at a later date.