After winning the Southeastern Conference’s regular-season championship a year ago, the LSU basketball team will begin defense of its title on Saturday, Jan. 4 against Tennessee in Knoxville.

LSU, which finished 16-2 in SEC play a year ago to claim its first regular-season title in a decade by a game over Tennessee and Kentucky, learned its league schedule Tuesday afternoon.

While the Tigers’ conference opponents were set in May, the SEC announced the full league slate with tipoff times and television networks.

LSU, which went on last season to advance to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16 and finished 28-7, will be tested early and often in league play in 2020.

After opening at Tennessee, the Tigers will play back-to-back games in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center against Arkansas on Jan. 8 and Mississippi State on Jan. 11.

Eight of the Tigers’ 18 league games will be played against the six teams that joined them last season in the NCAA tournament — starting with the Tennessee matchup in Thompson-Boling Arena.

In addition to Tennessee, Will Wade’s team will go against NCAA participants Auburn, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Florida (twice) and Ole Miss (twice).

Kentucky advanced to the Elite Eight where it was ousted in overtime by Auburn, which went on to the Final Four and fell to eventual NCAA champion Virginia by a point in the national semifinals.

LSU will travel to Auburn for a Feb. 8 matchup and then face Kentucky, whom Wade’s team shocked in Rupp Arena last February, in the PMAC on Feb. 18.

Most notable among the nonconference foes is the Jan. 25 date with Texas, which won the NIT last April under Shaka Smart — Wade’s old boss at VCU.

The game will mark LSU’s first appearance in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge since falling to Texas Tech in 2017 in Johnny Jones’ final season as the Tigers’ coach.

Another marquee matchup is a trip to Richmond, Virginia, to face VCU on Nov. 13 in a game to be televised on ESPN2.

Wade succeeded Smart as the head coach at VCU after Smart left for Texas and was there for two seasons before accepting the LSU job in March 2017.

LSU was required to play VCU in a home-and-home series as part of Wade’s buyout from his contract although LSU could have declined and paid a $200,000 fee.

VCU will return the trip and play LSU in the PMAC during the 2020-21 season.

Two special events will be part of the Tigers’ home schedule in February.

LSU will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pete Maravich breaking the NCAA career scoring record on Feb. 1 against Ole Miss, the school Maravich surpassed Oscar Robertson’s mark against.

Then, at halftime of the Feb. 29 game with Texas A&M, LSU will retire the jersey of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.

LSU 2019-20 SCHEDULE

All Times Central

November

Fri., 8 — Bowling Green, 7 p.m., TBA

Wed., 13 — at VCU, 5 p.m., ESPN2

Sat., 16 — Nicholls State, TBA, TBA

Tue., 19 — UMBC, 7 p.m., TBA

Fri., 22 — vs. Utah St., TBA, CBSSN

at Jamaica Classic, Montego Bay

Sun., 24 — vs. Rhode Island, TBA, CBSSN

at Jamaica Classic, Montego Bay

Fri., 29 — Missouri State, 7 p.m., TBA

December

Tue., 3 — UNO, TBA, TBA

Sun., 8 — Northwestern State, 4 p.m., TBA

Wed., 18 — East Tennessee State, 7 p.m., TBA

Sat., 21 — vs. USC, 8 p.m., TBA

at Staples Center, Los Angeles

Sun., 29 — Liberty, 2 p.m., TBA

January

Sat., 4 — at Tennessee, 11 a.m., ESPN/U

Wed., 8 — Arkansas, 8 p.m., ESPN/U

Sat., 11 — Mississippi St., 7 p.m. ESPN/2/U

Tue., 14 — at Texas A&M, 6 p.m., SECN

Sat., 18 — at Ole Miss, 7 p.m., ESPN/2/U

Tue., 21 — Florida, 6 p.m., ESPN/2/U/SECN

Sat., 25 — at Texas, TBA, ESPN Networks

SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Wed., 29 — Alabama, 6 p.m., ESPN2/U

February

Sat., 1 — Ole Miss, 11 a.m., ESPN/2/U

Wed., 5 — at Vanderbilt, 8 p.m., SECN

Sat., 8 — at Auburn, 11 a.m., ESPN/2/U

Tue., 11 — Missouri, 8 p.m., SECN

Sat., 15 — at Alabama, 3 p.m., ESPN/2/U

Tue., 18 — Kentucky, 8 p.m., ESPN/2/U

Sat., 22 — at South Carolina, 7 p.m., ESPN/2/U

Wed., 26 — at Florida, 8 p.m., ESPN/2/U

Sat., 29 — Texas A&M, 11 a.m., ESPN/2/U

March

Wed., 4 — at Arkansas, 6 p.m., SECN

Sat., 7 — Georgia, 1 p.m., ESPN/2/U

Wed., 11-15 — SEC tournament

at Nashville, Tenn.

Email Sheldon Mickles at smickles@theadvocate.com