K-State hoops to play Tennessee next season

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State will travel to Tennessee as part of the second annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday, Dec. 6 at Thompson-Boling Arena, the two leagues announced Wednesday.
The game will be one of 10 contested between the two leagues for the second consecutive season with ESPN providing coverage of all games on its family of networks. All the contests will occur over a four-day span from December 3-6, starting with Auburn at Texas Tech on Wednesday, Dec. 3.
Start times and complete television information will be announced at a later date.
The Big 12 won the inaugural Challenge with a 7-3 record. Overall, the league is 35-23 (.603) in its last two challenge series (vs. Pac-10 and SEC) dating back to 2007.
"The Challenge series is a win-win situation for both conferences," said head coach Bruce Weber. "It provides our teams with a high-quality, non-conference opponent, which can be difficult at times to secure. Our win over Ole Miss (last season) not only helped in the development of our team, but also represented a terrific home game for our fans."
This will mark the first meeting between the schools on the hardwood. Overall, K-State is 158-145 against teams from the SEC, including a 61-58 win over Ole Miss in the inaugural Big 12/SEC Challenge on Dec. 5 at Bramlage Coliseum.
K-State has met at least one SEC opponent in each of the last six seasons and will now play at least two in 2014-15 after the announcement of a series with Georgia earlier this week. The possibility also exists to play former Big 12 foe Missouri in the EA Sports Maui Invitational in November.
"Tennessee had a tremendous year with their run to the Sweet 16," said Weber. "I know that they are going through a transition period with a new coach, but they have a terrific tradition and one of the best home court advantages in the country, so it will be a great challenge for our team early in the season."
Both teams are coming off 20-win seasons and NCAA Tournament appearances in 2013-14. K-State advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the school-record fifth consecutive season with a 20-13 overall record - the school's eighth straight 20-win season - and finished in fifth place in the ultra-competitive Big 12 with a 10-8 mark.
Tennessee (24-13) rattled off eight wins in its last 10 games, including victories over Iowa, Massachusetts and Mercer in the span of five days in the NCAA Tournament to reach its fourth Sweet 16 in eight seasons. The Volunteers finished in fourth place in the SEC standings with an 11-7 record.
The Wildcats are expected to return nine lettermen, including five players with starting experience, in 2014-15 to go along with Division I transfers Justin Edwards and Brandon Bolden. The group is headlined by All-Big 12 Second Team selection Marcus Foster (15.5 ppg., 3.2 rpg.) and honorable mention pick Thomas Gipson (11.7 ppg., 6.5 rpg.). Overall, the team returns more than 70 percent of its scoring and 65 percent of its rebounding.
The Volunteers will be led by first-year head coach Donnie Tyndall, who was hired on April 22 after guiding Southern Miss to 56 wins and a pair of NIT appearances from 2012-14. Tyndall, who led Morehead State to a pair of NCAA Tournament bids, is faced with rebuilding a team which lost four starters and will rely on rising senior and SEC All-Defensive Team member Josh Richardson (10.3 ppg., 2.9 rpg.). The squad also returns sophomore Darius Thompson, who led the way with 36 steals and was second in assists (2.4 apg.).
The remaining non-conference schedule will be released in the coming weeks.
The Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences have announced the matchups for the 2014 SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
"The Big 12 was thrilled with the success of the Challenge last season," said Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. "We are equally excited about this year's games that will continue to add quality opponents to our strong non-conference schedules as we look to defend our performance as the nation's No. 1 conference."
All games in the Challenge are scheduled over a four-day span, from December 3-6. ESPN will provide exclusive coverage of all 10 games on it networks. Additional components of the event, including start times and exact network information, will be announced at a later date.
The Challenge includes eight teams ranked in the early "Fab 50" rankings overall, with five Big 12 teams rated in the top 25 - No. 1 Kentucky, No. 4 Kansas, No. 6 Texas, No. 7 Florida, No. 18 Iowa State, No. 19 Oklahoma, No. 25 K-State and No. 44 LSU. Two games will pit ranked teams against each other - Florida at Kansas and Texas at Kentucky.
Last season, the Big 12 won the Challenge by capturing wins in seven of the 10 meetings. The Big 12 has posted a 35-23 (.603) record in the last two challenge series it has played (vs. Pac-10, SEC) dating back to 2007.
Wednesday, December 3
Auburn at Texas Tech
Thursday, December 4
Arkansas at Iowa State
Baylor at Vanderbilt
LSU at West Virginia
TCU at Mississippi
Friday, December 5
Florida at Kansas
Missouri at Oklahoma
Texas at Kentucky
Saturday, December 6
Kansas State at Tennessee
Oklahoma State at South Carolina