HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WLBT) - The Jay Ladner era will officially begin with a home exhibition game against Mississippi College (Oct. 29), followed by the regular-season opener on Nov. 5 versus Delta State.
The program will continue its tradition of playing a challenging non-conference slate. The previously-announced Battle 4 Atlantis will consist of four games, three of which will take place in the Bahamas. Southern Miss first travels to Iowa State on Nov. 19, then plays Gonzaga on Nov. 27, which will air on ESPNU. The following day will feature a contest with either Oregon or Seton Hall, followed by one more the next day against an opponent to be determined. The remainder of the field includes Alabama, Michigan and North Carolina.
"As far as the overall schedule is concerned, our goal is to become a national power," Ladner said. "To do that, you have to be able to play and compete against these top teams. Our schedule certainly offers that. I think it's a great schedule and an opportunity for young men to play some top teams in the county and in great locations. It's valuable for recruiting. We want these types of kids, and they want to play this kind of international schedule."
The Golden Eagles will also play at defending national runner-up Texas Tech on Dec. 16. The slate also includes a Nov. 9 road game at South Alabama, home battles with Tulane (Dec. 4) and Southern Illinois (Dec. 7) and a home-and-home with North Florida (Nov. 14 in Jacksonville, Dec. 14 in Hattiesburg).
The Salukis will mark Southern Miss' second Missouri Valley Conference opponent since the 2006-07 season. The Golden Eagles also host crosstown foe William Carey on Nov. 24 and Tougaloo on Dec. 21.
"For a young team, it will be challenging, but by the same token, we will find out where we are pretty quickly," Ladner said. "It will help for the rugged conference schedule ahead. I'm very excited about what we have. I also like the fact that we are also returning some of our old rivals to the schedule in Tulane and keeping regulars like South Alabama."
Conference USA play begins Dec. 30 at home with Louisiana Tech, followed by a Jan. 4 game in Ruston that kicks off a three-game road swing (at UTEP and UTSA on Jan. 9 and 11, respectively). Other home league contests include North Texas, Rice, Old Dominion, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic and FIU before bonus play runs from Feb. 22 to March 7.
The C-USA Basketball Championships will be held in Frisco, Texas from March 11-14.