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Ohio State women’s basketball face tough test in SEC country, taking on Tennessee in December

The Buckeyes took the first matchup of a home/away series against the Volunteers, but can they repeat?

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Joseph Scheller/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

While the college basketball world sits in wait for a full 23-24 season schedule, a key game for the Ohio State women’s basketball team was announced. On Friday, the Tennessee Volunteers of the SEC revealed its 23-24 non-conference schedule, including a Buckeyes away trip to Knoxville, Tennessee on Dec. 3.

The scarlet and gray and orange of Rocky Top set up a home/away series last season, with Ohio State hosting the first of two games. It was a momentous one for head coach Kevin McGuff and the Buckeyes.

In the first game, last season in Columbus, Ohio, the Schottenstein Center was loud with over 6,400 fans in attendance, stretched across both teams. Ohio State entered as the No. 14 seed, facing the No. 4 seeded Tennessee Volunteers.

On paper, Tennessee was practically an All-Star team featuring starsl ike guard Jordan Horston, center Tamari Key and forward Rickea Jackson. For the first half, Tennessee showed that star power, outscoring Ohio State 41-33.

Then came the third quarter.

Ohio State outscored Tennessee 30-13 in the third quarter, with former Buckeyes guard Taylor Mikesell outscoring the Vols with 15 points alone. McGuff’s side picked up the first of many emphatic wins of the season, defeating the SEC side 87-75.

Following the win, the two sides went in vastly different directions. For Tennessee, a medical scare left Key out for the remainder of the season, the Vols struggled to gel the new team quickly and dropped out of the top 25 polls by the end of November and never returning until the postseason No. 23 ranking.

For the Buckeyes it was a different story. Ohio State went on a historic run to start the season, achieving a No. 2 ranking.

However, both sides ended the season going down similar roads. Ohio State struggled against Big Ten powers in the Iowa Hawkeyes and Indiana Hoosiers, while Tennessee began finding its form.

In each team’s respective conference tournaments, the sides had impressive performances getting to conference title games. Both sides lost but made deep runs in the NCAA tournament. Ohio State and Tennessee were one game away from a 22-23 rematch.

At the Seattle Regional, the Volunteers faced the Virginia Tech Hokies on the same court where the Buckeyes defeated the UConn Huskies. A win against the Hokies would pit the Big Ten and SEC sides against each other but the Hokies defeated the Vols 73-64. Ohio State suffered the same result in the Elite Eight, losing to Virginia Tech 84-74.

Friday’s announcement is the third non-conference formally announced for the Buckeyes. The season begins in Las Vegas on Nov. 6 when Ohio State takes on the soon-to-be Big Ten side: The USC Trojans.

Later in November, the Buckeyes travel to the Bahamas for a pair of games in the Pink Flamingo tournament. On Nov. 20, it’s the East Carolina Pirates. Nov. 22 it’s an OSU against OSU matchup when the Buckeyes face the Oklahoma State Cowgirls.