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STARKVILLE, Miss. – A 15-game non-conference slate will provide the ideal build-up to a challenging 16-game SEC slate as the Mississippi State women’s basketball team finalized its 2013-14 schedule on Thursday.

The Bulldogs’ 2013-14 slate includes 18 home dates, with 10 of those coming in the non-conference.

The schedule for second-year coach Vic Schaefer’s squad holds 16 potential opponents that advanced to the postseason a year ago, with 11 of those coming in SEC play. The Bulldogs host five NCAA Tournament teams in league action.

“We are certainly excited about our non-conference and conference schedules. We have 11 teams in the conference that made postseason and that in itself is a challenge, and then you add to that the opportunity to possibly play UCLA, N.C. State, James Madison and Middle Tennessee, teams that made either the NCAA Tournament or WNIT,” Schaefer said. “We have a good mixture of competition that will allow our young kids to play early and get some confidence, but we have to be ready from the start when we travel to Houston and open on the road against a talented and well-coached Cougars team. A lot of hard work from Coach (Johnnie) Harris went into developing this schedule, and we are excited about the challenge.”

Fans will get their first look at the Bulldogs Nov. 4 when the team hosts Shorter in an exhibition contest.

State’s Nov. 8 season opener will be a homecoming for Schaefer as the Bulldogs head to Houston for a rematch with the Cougars. Schaefer picked up his first MSU victory against UH last season, claiming a 72-66 win at Humphrey Coliseum.

The Bulldogs play the next four contests at the Hump, beginning with Jackson State on Nov. 13. New Orleans comes to town Nov. 17, and the team wraps the homestand with games against Tennessee Tech (Nov. 21) and Savannah State (Nov. 26).

Mississippi State heads to Naples, Fla., Thanksgiving weekend to participate in the inaugural Gulf Coast Showcase. State meets Grand Canyon to open a three-game tournament set that also includes potential games against NCAA Tournament participants UCLA and Middle Tennessee, WNIT competitors N.C. State and James Madison, and Wright State.

The Dawgs hosts five of their last six games before embarking on the league slate. Schaefer’s squad welcomes Louisiana-Lafayette and Alabama State to Starkville Dec. 4 and 7, respectively, while in-state foe Southern Miss comes to town Dec. 14.

The Bulldogs head to Fargo, N.D., for a Dec. 17 contest against North Dakota State before wrapping the non-conference slate at the Hump against Southeastern Louisiana and Mississippi Valley State Dec. 20 and 30, respectively.

MSU opens SEC play on the road for the seventh time in eight seasons when it heads to WNIT semifinalist Florida on Jan. 2.

State begins the eight-game home conference slate three days later, hosting WNIT quarterfinalist Auburn in the first of two meetings this season.

Following an open date and a trip to Arkansas on Jan. 12, Schaefer’s squad returns to Humphrey Coliseum Jan. 16 for a meeting with a Tennessee squad that went to the Elite Eight in 2013.

Schaefer and his staff returns to Texas A&M for the first time on Jan. 19, and stay on the road the following Thursday for the first of two meetings against Ole Miss. The in-state rivals collide in Starkville on Feb. 23.

Mississippi State wraps the opening month of league play with a home contest against Missouri (Jan. 26) and a road trip to LSU (Jan. 30).

February opens with a battle of the Bulldogs as NCAA Elite Eight participant Georgia comes to Humphrey Coliseum for the first of two regular-season meetings. It will be the second-straight showdown in Starkville after MSU upset an 11th-ranked Georgia squad 50-38 to wrap the 2012-13 home slate.

The teams meet again in Athens in the March 2 regular-season finale.

MSU stays at home Feb. 6 to meet another NCAA Tournament squad in South Carolina.

Following a Feb. 9 trip to Auburn and the season’s final open date, the Bulldogs return home to face Vanderbilt on Feb. 16 before heading to Tuscaloosa for a Feb. 20 contest against the Crimson Tide.

Mississippi State wraps the home slate with the Feb. 23 rematch against Ole Miss and a Feb. 27 showdown against Elite Eight participant, Kentucky.

The 2013-14 SEC Tournament returns to Duluth, Ga., March 5-9.

Mississippi State Women’s Basketball 2013-2014 Schedule

Nov. 4 Mon. Shorter (Exhibition) 7 p.m.

Nov. 8 Fri. at Houston 5 p.m.

Nov. 13 Wed. Jackson State 7 p.m.

Nov. 17 Sun. New Orleans 3 p.m.

Nov. 21 Thurs. Tennessee Tech 7 p.m.

Nov. 26 Tue. Savannah State 7 p.m.

Nov. 29-Dec. 1 % Gulf Coast Showcase Naples, Fla.

Nov. 29 Fri. % Grand Canyon TBA

Nov. 30 Sat. % TBA TBA

Dec. 1 Sun. % TBA TBA

Dec. 4 Wed. Louisiana-Lafayette 7 p.m.

Dec. 7 Sat. Alabama State 7 p.m.

Dec. 14 Sat. Southern Miss 7 p.m.

Dec. 17 Tue. at North Dakota State 7 p.m.

Dec. 20 Fri. Southeastern Louisiana 7 p.m.

Dec. 30 Mon. Mississippi Valley State 7 p.m.

Jan. 2 Thurs. * at Florida TBA

Jan. 5 Sun. * Auburn 2 p.m.

Jan. 12 Sun. * at Arkansas 2 p.m.

Jan. 16 Thurs. * Tennessee 7 p.m.

Jan. 19 Sun. * at Texas A&M TBA

Jan. 23 Thurs. * at Ole Miss TBA

Jan. 26 Sun. * Missouri 2 p.m.

Jan. 30 Thurs. * at LSU TBA

Feb. 2 Sun. * Georgia 2 p.m.

Feb. 6 Thurs. * South Carolina 7 p.m.

Feb. 9 Sun. * at Auburn TBA

Feb. 16 Sun. * Vanderbilt 2 p.m.

Feb. 20 Thurs. * at Alabama TBA

Feb. 23 Sun. * Ole Miss 2 p.m.

Feb. 27 Thurs. * Kentucky 7 p.m.

Mar. 2 Sun. * at Georgia TBA

March 5-9 SEC Tournament (Duluth, Ga.)

% – Gulf Coast Showcase (Naples, Fla.)

* – SEC Game

Home Games In Bold

All Times Central

Times Subject To Change

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