Four meetings with schools inside the commonwealth highlight the University of Kentucky’s 2022-23 non-conference women’s basketball schedule announced Wednesday.
The new-look Wildcats will host Morehead State, Bellarmine and Murray State in Memorial Coliseum and take on archrival Louisville in Rupp Arena.
After the departure of All-American and No. 1 overall WNBA Draft pick Rhyne Howard along with several other key players from last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament champions, Kentucky is rebuilding around a group of five holdovers and 10 newcomers under third-year head coach Kyra Elzy.
Fittingly, the Wildcats are easing into things to start the 2022-23 season, considering the roster includes six freshmen and four transfers.
Kentucky fans will get their first look at the Wildcats on Nov. 2, when UK hosts Pikeville for an exhibition game in Memorial Coliseum at 7 p.m.
UK opens its regular season at home on Monday, Nov. 7 against Radford, a Big South Conference team that finished 7-23 last season. The Cats then host Morehead State on Nov. 11. The Eagles are coming off a 1-27 season. Kentucky hosts Coastal Carolina (15-11) on Nov. 13 and Bellarmine (4-24) on Nov. 17.
The Wildcats’ soft opening leads into the previously announced Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship at Nassau, Bahamas, where Kentucky will step up in competition against Virginia Tech on Nov. 21 and Dayton on Nov. 23.
Virginia Tech went 23-10 last season, but lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament as a No. 5 seed. Dayton went 26-6 last season and won a First Four game in the NCAA Tournament against DePaul, before losing as a No. 11 seed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The trip will mark the first time the UK women’s basketball team travels outside the continental U.S. since 2018, when the Cats won the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
After returning to Lexington for a date with UNC Greensboro (9-19) on Dec. 4, Kentucky plays its only true non-conference road game when it visits Minnesota (15-18) of the Big Ten on Dec. 7.
Kentucky’s meeting with Louisville in Rupp Arena is set for Sunday, Dec. 11.
After a year apart because of COVID-19, the UK and Louisville women’s basketball programs resumed their rivalry in 2021, with Louisville emerging 64-58 winners at the KFC Yum Center last December. Kentucky leads the all-time series against Louisville, 34-23, but UK hasn’t beaten Louisville since December 2015.
Kentucky (19-12 overall and 8-8 in the SEC last season) completes its non-conference slate with home games in Memorial Coliseum later in December against Murray State (22-10), Florida Gulf Coast (30-3) and Ohio (15-15).
Kentucky announced dates for all 16 of its SEC games last month. The Wildcats open league play on Dec. 29 at Missouri. UK then plays its conference home opener on New Year’s Day, a Sunday, against Arkansas.
The highlight of the home schedule comes Jan. 12, when the Wildcats host defending national champion South Carolina. UK also visits the Gamecocks this season, that game tipping off on Feb. 2 in Columbia, S.C.
Kentucky’s SEC schedule includes seven teams that played in last season’s NCAA Tournament: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee. This season’s meeting with LSU on Jan. 8 will take place in Rupp Arena.
In addition to playing South Carolina twice, Kentucky’s home-and-away opponents also include Missouri and Georgia.
The SEC Tournament will be held in Greenville, S.C., March 1-5.
The Wildcats’ roster features just five returning players (guards Robyn Benton, Blair Green, Emma King and Jada Walker and forward Nyah Leveretter).
Elzy brought in additional veteran help via the transfer portal, landing graduate student Adebola Adeyeye (Buffalo) and juniors Maddie Scherr (Oregon), Eniya Russell (South Carolina) and Ajae Petty (LSU). Scherr, was Kentucky’s 2020 Miss Basketball at Ryle High School before playing two seasons at Oregon.
UK announced this week that Tionna Herron, the highest-rated prospect among the incoming freshmen, underwent successful open-heart surgery in August, and is anticipated to return to the UK campus in early October. When the 6-foot-4, four-star prospect from Texas will be able to resume basketball activities is unclear.
UK’s other freshmen include Kentuckians Amiya Jenkins (2022 Miss Basketball from Anderson County) and Cassidy Rowe (Shelby Valley) along with Saniah Tyler (Florissant, Mo.), Kennedy Cambridge (Nashville, Tenn.) and Zennia Thomas (Lyndhurst, Ohio).
2022-23 Kentucky women’s basketball schedule
Home games in all capital letters. Remaining tip-off times and TV assignments to be announced later.
Nov. 2: PIKEVILLE, 7 p.m.-x
Nov. 7: RADFORD
Nov. 11: MOREHEAD STATE
Nov. 13: COASTAL CAROLINA
Nov. 17: BELLARMINE
Nov. 21: Virginia Tech, Noon-1
Nov. 23: Dayton, 4:30 p.m.-1
Dec. 4: UNC GREENSBORO
Dec. 7: At Minnesota
Dec. 11: LOUISVILLE-2
Dec. 16: MURRAY STATE
Dec. 18: FLORIDA GULF COAST
Dec. 21: OHIO
Dec. 29: At Missouri
Jan. 1: ARKANSAS
Jan. 5: At Georgia
Jan. 8: LSU-2
Jan. 12: SOUTH CAROLINA
Jan. 15: At Florida
Jan. 22: At Mississippi State
Jan. 26: AUBURN
Jan. 29: MISSOURI
Feb. 2: At South Carolina
Feb. 9: ALABAMA
Feb. 13: At Mississippi
Feb. 16: GEORGIA
Feb. 19: At Vanderbilt
Feb. 23: At Texas A&M
Feb. 26: TENNESSEE
March 1-5: SEC Tournament-3
x-Exhibition game; 1-Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship at Nassau, Bahamas; 2-Rupp Arena; 3-At Greenville, S.C.