COLUMBIA — The Missouri women's basketball team will open its 24-game 2020-21 season in two weeks, beginning Nov. 27 with a home game against North Alabama, as the Tigers released their non-conference schedule and the Southeastern Conference announced its slate of games Friday.
Coming off a 9-22 season a year ago and a 5-11 mark in conference play, Missouri continued two in-state rivalry games as part of its non-conference schedule: the Tigers will play Nov. 29 at Saint Louis and host No. 24 Missouri State on Dec. 13.
In between are home games against Morehead State on Dec. 2 and TCU on Dec. 6, as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, and a road game at Texas Tech. Missouri closes out its non-conference slate Dec. 16 against New Orleans and Dec. 19 against Oral Roberts, both at home.
All times and TV assignments are to be determined.
The conference schedule in the always-competitive SEC is a doozy. The Tigers play road games against each of the five SEC teams ranked in the AP preseason poll: No. 14 Arkansas (Jan. 3), No. 11 Kentucky (Jan. 31), No. 1 South Carolina (Feb. 11), No. 13 Texas A&M (Feb. 18) and No. 6 Mississippi State on Feb. 28 to close out the regular season.
Missouri starts its conference slate Dec. 31 at home against Alabama, and also gets home games against the Razorbacks (Feb. 4) and Aggies (Jan. 24). The Tigers will also play a home-and-home against Florida and host Vanderbilt, LSU, Georgia and Tennessee, and play at Auburn and Mississippi.
In addition, Kentucky junior guard/forward Rhyne Howard was a unanimous preseason All-American as voted by the 30-member panel in awards announced earlier this week, and was joined by the Gamecocks' Aliyah Boston. Howard averaged 23.4 points per game last year and was one of the nation's leading scorers before a hand injury limited her during conference play. Boston averaged 12.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game as a true freshman last year.
Kentucky is also dealing with a unique and unfortunate situation this season: head coach Matthew Mitchell retired from coaching Thursday evening. Mitchell underwent surgery earlier this year to remove a subdural hematoma after he fell and suffered a concussion at the beginning of the year. His recovery from the surgery was slower than anticipated.
"This was a difficult decision and I know the timing is not ideal, but I do not feel I can give the job what it requires at this time," Mitchell said in a statement. "As has been much publicized, I have had an eventful offseason with my injury and subsequent surgery.
"I have been open about the fact that the surgery and recovery process has been life-altering for me and my family. Through that, my priorities towards my family and my faith has grown even larger than before and that has led me to make this decision. Although so much about today is sad because I will greatly miss the relationships and people that have constantly lifted up my family and me the last 13 years, I am resolute in my decision and comfortable with beginning the next chapter of my life."
Kentucky named associate head coach Kyra Elzy the interim head coach for this season.