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Mountaineers get Missouri in Big 12/SEC Challenge

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - It seems that no matter what happens with conference realignment, West Virginia's basketball team can't get away from challenging the SEC.

The Big 12 and the SEC announced Tuesday the formation of the Big 12/SEC Challenge in basketball beginning next season. West Virginia's draw is a road game at Missouri on Dec. 5.

The Big 12/SEC Challenge replaces the Big East/SEC Challenge. ESPN, which brokered both deals and will televise all of the games, dropped the Big East after that league fractured.

This will be West Virginia's third appearance in a challenge event with the SEC, and all have been on the road. WVU twice participated in the Big East/SEC challenge, winning against Auburn in Birmingham, Ala., in 2007 and falling at Mississippi State in 2011.

The name of the tournament will rotate annually. The second event in 2014 will be the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

This year's challenge is a combination of games already scheduled and others put together for the sake of the event. That's why the first of the games is scheduled Nov. 14 (Texas Tech at Alabama in a previously scheduled game) and runs through Dec. 21 (Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma in Houston). In future years the games will all be played in a window expected to be no larger than a few days.

Two of this year's games are between teams in early polls for next season - Kansas at Florida and Kentucky vs. Baylor in Arlington, Texas. All 10 of the Big 12's teams and 10 of the SEC's 14 schools will play this year. Arkansas, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee are the SEC exceptions.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said an effort will be made each year to pair teams of relative strength, with the best teams in each league facing each other, as well as those in the middle and the bottom.

The previous Big East/SEC Challenge was never a great success. In most years there were just four games played before it was expanded to 12 the last two years. The Big East finished with a 25-15 edge in the 40 games.

The series is also another partnership between the two leagues, which have teamed up for what is the new Sugar Bowl within the college football playoff system.

West Virginia and Missouri have played just twice before in basketball, both times in the NCAA tournament. The Mountaineers won a second-round game in Buffalo in 2010 on the way to the Final Four and Missouri won in 1992 in the first round in Greensboro, N.C.

Missouri finished last season 23-11 and lost its first game in the NCAA tournament to Colorado State. The Tigers were 17-0 at home last season, but will lose four of their top five scorers.

Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.

Big 12/SEC Challenge schedule

Saturday, Nov. 14

  • Texas Tech at Alabama
  • Monday, Dec. 2

  • Vanderbilt at Texas
  • Auburn at Iowa State
  • Thursday, Dec. 5

  • West Virginia at Missouri
  • Ole Miss at Kansas State
  • TCU at Mississippi State
  • Friday, Dec. 6

  • South Carolina at Oklahoma State
  • Kentucky vs. Baylor (at Arlington, Texas)
  • Tuesday, Dec. 10

  • Kansas at Florida
  • Saturday, Dec. 21

  • Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma (at Houston)
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