BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Seventeen regular-season home games, which are the most in program history and include contests against Murray State, Southern Miss and Ole Miss, and two games against 2013 Final Four teams highlight the 2013-14 WKU men's basketball schedule, announced Friday by head coach Ray Harper.
In all, WKU's slate features 17 regular-season contests at E.A. Diddle Arena, nine of which are part of Sun Belt Conference play, plus one preseason exhibition game. WKU faces defending national champion Louisville and 2013 Final Four participant Wichita State on the road in the non-conference portion, as well as hosts long-time rival Murray State, plus Southern Miss and Ole Miss, in December.
"We are pleased with the schedule we have put together for this season," Harper said. "There are plenty of challenges for our squad in the non-conference portion to help us prepare for Sun Belt Conference play, which is always competitive. We are also very excited to be able to play so many home games this season. Our fans mean everything to us, and there is nothing like taking the court at E.A. Diddle Arena and going all out for them.
"When you look at the whole schedule, a non-conference portion with two Final Four teams and two other teams that won at least 27 games before we even get to conference play, it means we will have to be at our best every time we step on the court. But we are thrilled for the challenge and looking forward to getting started."
Season tickets for the 2013-14 season start as low as $99 for all 18 games at E.A. Diddle Arena, and fans interested in purchasing season tickets can call the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally. Season ticket renewals will be mailed during the first week of August, and single-game tickets will go on sale on October 14.
WKU begins the quest for its third-straight NCAA Tournament berth at Wichita State on November 11 in the first of four non-conference games against teams that won at least 27 games last year. Following the game against the Shockers, WKU returns to E.A. Diddle Arena for three-straight in the Roundball Showcase against East Tennessee State, UNC Wilmington and Samford.
WKU travels to Marshall on November 26 before hosting Eastern Illinois on November 30, and the Hilltoppers then go on the road for three-in-a-row at Bowling Green State, Southern Illinois and Louisville. WKU and Bowling Green State will be playing for the third time in the last four seasons, and WKU and Southern Illinois will meet for the eighth-straight year.
The game against the Cardinals on December 14 at the KFC Yum! Center will mark the sixth-straight season the Hilltoppers and the Cardinals have squared off. Louisville has won four-straight over WKU, but WKU leads the all-time series, 39-37. Louisville won the national championship last season and finished the season with a 35-5 record.
WKU begins a four-game homestand on Wednesday, December 18, when Southern Miss comes to E.A. Diddle Arena for the first time since the 2002-03 season. WKU traveled to Hattiesburg for last year's season-opener and dropped a hard-fought game in overtime, 67-64.
The 151st meeting in the WKU-Murray State series comes on Saturday, December 21. WKU leads the all-time series with Murray State, 97-53, and holds a 58-13 advantage in games played in Bowling Green.
A game against Brescia (Ky.) follows on December 28, before WKU hosts Ole Miss on Monday, December 30. WKU and Ole Miss have never met on the hardwood, and the last time WKU welcomed an opponent from the Southeastern Conference to E.A. Diddle Arena came on November 27, 2010, when South Carolina defeated the Hilltoppers in double overtime, 87-85.
WKU starts its defense of back-to-back Sun Belt Conference Tournament championships with an 18-game Sun Belt Conference schedule that begins Thursday, January 2 at South Alabama. WKU faces each team in the conference twice in a home-and-home format, and the Sun Belt Conference home opener is Thursday, January 9 against league newcomer Georgia State in the first matchup between the two as conference foes.
Fans will get the first opportunity to see the other two conference newcomers, Texas-Arlington and Texas State, at E.A. Diddle Arena on January 30 and February 1, respectively. WKU is 1-0 all-time against Georgia State and has never faced Texas-Arlington or Texas State.
The regular season concludes on Saturday, March 8, when WKU travels to Georgia State. The Sun Belt Conference Tournament will be held in New Orleans, La., on March 13-16. The 2014 NCAA Tournament begins on March 18.
WKU hosts Campbellsville (Ky.) in an exhibition game on November 2.
Television information for the 2013-14 schedule will be announced at a later date.
Hilltopper Hysteria moves to a Saturday night for the first time and will take place on Saturday, October 19. The free event at E.A. Diddle Arena begins at 6:00 PM.