LSU vs. Ole Miss

Senior Duop Reath, LSU's top returning scorer and rebounder from last season, and his Tigers teammates will open Southeastern Conference play on Jan. 3 against Kentucky in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Thomas Graning

Welcome to the Southeastern Conference, Will Wade.

LSU’s first-year men's basketball coach will make his SEC debut against the league's reigning regular-season and tournament champion when Kentucky comes to the Pete Maravich Assembly Center for a Jan. 3 matchup with the Tigers.

The SEC office announced dates and sites for 126 conference games Thursday, and LSU’s opener with Kentucky certainly stood out. Coach John Calipari's Wildcats, who were 32-6 overall and 16-2 in the SEC a year ago, lost to eventual national champion North Carolina 75-73 in the Elite Eight.

The opening portion of the Tigers' 18-game conference schedule won't be easy. After tangling with Kentucky, their next two games are on the road, at Texas A&M (Jan. 6) and at Arkansas (Jan. 10).

Kentucky will likely be in the top five in the preseason rankings despite losing three members of the SEC’s All-Freshman team to the NBA draft (De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo). All three were taken in the first 14 picks.

"It’ll be a huge challenge for us," Wade said. "We have the best program in the league coming in here first, so it'll be a big challenge. Kentucky will be talented and well-coached. ... They'll be long and will defend well. It'll be a big-time challenge.

"Not only that, but we'll face another talented team on the road in Texas A&M, and Arkansas is a tough team to beat in Bud Walton Arena. It's a treacherous start to league play for us."

The game at LSU will be the second in conference play for Kentucky, which takes on Georgia in Rupp Arena on Dec. 31.

LSU won’t be in action on the conference’s first playing date (Dec. 30-31) because the Tigers are not part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge this year. The other SEC teams not in the challenge are Auburn, Mississippi State and Missouri.

After starting out with Kentucky, Texas A&M and Arkansas, LSU will have back-to-back home games with Alabama (Jan. 13) and Georgia (Jan. 16). LSU will close January by playing three of four games on the road. Wade returns to his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, for a contest with Vanderbilt (Jan. 20) and will host Texas A&M (Jan. 23) before going back on the road to face Auburn (Jan. 27) and Tennessee (Jan. 31).

LSU will play four home games and four road games in February. The Tigers will sandwich home games with Arkansas (Feb. 3) and Ole Miss (Feb. 10) around a road game with Florida (Feb. 7). Then, they will play three of the next five on the road at Alabama (Feb. 13), Georgia (Feb. 24) and South Carolina (Feb. 28). Wade’s team will have back-to-back home games for only the second time in league play when it faces Missouri (Feb. 17) and Vanderbilt (Feb. 20) in the PMAC.

The Tigers close their conference slate at home against Mississippi State (March 3) before playing in the SEC tournament March 7-11 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

In addition to its three permanent home-and-home foes — Alabama, Arkansas and Texas A&M — LSU plays Georgia and Vanderbilt both at home and on the road and will take on the remaining eight teams in the league once.

LSU last week announced its 12-game nonconference schedule. The Tigers will host Alcorn State on Nov. 10 in Wade's first game as coach.

Television information and tip times for the nonconference games and SEC slate will be announced by the league at a later date.

LSU men's basketball 2017-18 schedule

All times Central

NOVEMBER

Date Opponent Time TV

Fri., 10 Alcorn State TBA TBA

Thu., 16 Samford TBA TBA

Mon., 20 Michigan* 10:30 p.m. ESPNU

Tue., 21 Notre Dame/Chaminade* TBA TBA

Wed., 22 TBA* TBA TBA

Wed., 29 UT-Martin TBA TBA

*Maui Invitational (Lahaina, Hawaii)

DECEMBER

Sun., 10 UNC-Wilmington TBA TBA

Wed, 13 Houston TBA TBA

Sat., 16 S.F. Austin TBA TBA

Tue., 19 Sam Houston St. TBA TBA

Fri., 22 North Florida TBA TBA

Thu., 28 at Memphis TBA TBA

JANUARY

Wed., 3 Kentucky TBA TBA

Sat., 6 at Texas A&M TBA TBA

Wed., 10 at Arkansas TBA TBA

Sat., 13 Alabama TBA TBA

Tue., 16 Georgia TBA TBA

Sat., 20 at Vanderbilt TBA TBA

Tue., 23 Texas A&M TBA TBA

Sat., 27 at Auburn TBA TBA

Wed., 31 at Tennessee TBA TBA

FEBRUARY

Sat., 3 Arkansas TBA TBA

Wed., 7 at Florida TBA TBA

Sat., 10 Ole Miss TBA TBA

Tue., 13 at Alabama TBA TBA

Sat., 17 Missouri TBA TBA

Tue., 20 Vanderbilt TBA TBA

Sat., 24 at Georgia TBA TBA

Wed., 28 at South Carolina TBA TBA

MARCH

Sat., 3 Mississippi State TBA TBA

Wed., 7-Sun., 11 SEC tournament at St. Louis (Scottrade Center)

Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.