COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M women's basketball head coach Gary Blair announced the team's 2012-13 non-conference schedule on Wednesday.
The challenging, fan-friendly slate features seven straight home games and nine overall. This includes the first home matchup in program history against seven-time national champion Connecticut and A&M's first-ever Thanksgiving tournament.
The 14-game non-conference schedule kicks off with three top-20 programs and four straight NCAA Championship contenders from a year ago. A&M opens its season on Nov. 9 at Louisville, which finished ranked No. 16 at the end of the year.
"The schedule that we play at A&M, year in and year out, challenges our team and gets them ready to play in the SEC and the NCAA Tournament," Blair said. "We believe in playing the best and that's how we've grown our program and our attendance. What other team in the country will open up against three of the top teams? I think it's a tribute to our program that we aim to play that competition."
The Aggies open their seven-game home stretch on Nov. 14 with NCAA Sweet 16 participant Penn State. The much-anticipated UConn contest follows on Nov. 18 and two days later, on Nov. 20, A&M hosts Big South Conference champion Liberty.
"We're expecting a sell-out for the UConn game," Blair said. "Hopefully the 87,000-plus that come to watch the Sam Houston State football game will want to stay over and catch the UConn game. By far, there will never be a non-conference game with as hot of a ticket as that one."
On Nov. 23 and 25, the Aggies' host their first Thanksgiving tournament, the A&M Classic, welcoming Marquette, Marshall and Southern to Reed Arena. The home stand wraps up with Louisiana Tech on Dec. 4 and TCU on Dec. 8.
In just its second road game of the season, Texas A&M travels to USC on Dec. 15 and stays out west for the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas Dec. 19-21. The Aggies play three games in a tournament that features Notre Dame, Kansas State, Old Dominion, UNLV and a sixth team yet to be determined. Notre Dame was the NCAA runner-up in both 2011 and 2012, while both K-State (NCAA Second Round) and UNLV (WNIT) were postseason participants.
The Aggies close out the month of December against Prairie View A&M on Dec. 28 and ring in the New Year with Rice on Jan. 1.
"I'm hoping that with a non-conference schedule like this, season ticket holders and Aggie fans alike will say, 'Hey, we don't have to wait for the NCAA Tournament,'" Blair said. "This will be the most home games that we have played in my 10 years. Having a Thanksgiving tournament and giving our fans a chance to watch basketball, football and basketball again should make for a great Thanksgiving weekend in Aggieland."
Women's basketball season tickets are available now and can be purchased online at: tickets.12thmanfoundation.com, in person at the 12th Man Foundation Ticket Office and Reed Arena Box Office or by calling 1-888-99-AGGIE.
A&M's 16-game Southeastern Conference schedule will be released at a later date. Televised games and game times will also be announced at a later date.
- In Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the Aggies can face three teams that have all won national championships - USC, Old Dominion and Notre Dame.
- Nine non-conference home games are the most played in 39 seasons of women's basketball at A&M.