Longwood releases 2015-2016 men’s basketball schedule

longwood logoA nationally-televised matchup on ESPNU against Oklahoma State, road trips to neighboring Richmond and George Mason and home games against the 2015 Big South Tournament semifinalists highlight Longwood men’s basketball’s 2015-16 schedule, announced Thursday by head coach Jayson Gee.

Coming off a Big South semifinal appearance themselves, the Lancers will host 13 regular season home games in Willett Hall and an exhibition against Division III Hampden-Sydney on Nov. 7. The matchup against the Tigers will be Longwood’s lone preseason game and renews the crosstown showdown between the programs of one of the nation’s oldest two-college towns.

In Gee’s third year heading the Longwood program, the senior-laden Lancers will take on six teams that advanced to the postseason in 2014-15. In addition to the road game at NCAA Tournament qualifier Oklahoma State on Dec. 15 and a home matchup against Big South champion Coastal Carolina on Jan. 9, Longwood will face NIT qualifiers Richmond (Dec. 12) and Charleston Southern (Feb. 6) on the road and CBI teams Gardner-Webb (Jan. 2, Feb. 20) and Radford (Jan. 27, Feb. 27) in home-and-home matchups.

“Once again we’re challenging ourselves in the non-conference slate of games,” Gee said. “We play Big 12 opponent Oklahoma State in a game that will be televised on ESPNU. I’m especially excited about the in-state trips to George Mason and Richmond. Those games will allow our fans to see us play against a high-major Big 12 program on a national stage and two quality Atlantic 10 programs locally.”

The Richmond, Oklahoma State and George Mason games all come in succession as part of a four-game December road trip that ends at Dartmouth on Dec. 22. In addition to those non-conference road matchups, Longwood will spend a weekend in Richmond, Ky., for the EKU Hoops Classic and a two-game holiday trip to Maine and Columbia over Thanksgiving break.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our series with Dartmouth and picking up another series at Maine,” Gee said. “The Maine game will be part of a Thanksgiving road trip that ends at Columbia and will allow us to spend the holiday in New York where we plan to visit the New York Stock Exchange.”

The EKU Hoops Classic will pit the Lancers against South Carolina State, Ball State and Eastern Kentucky on three consecutive game days Nov. 20-22. That tournament follows a season-opening stretch of three straight home games for the Lancers, who begin the year by welcoming Hampden-Sydney for the Nov. 7 exhibition followed by the season opener against Randolph College on Nov. 13 and another matchup against La Roche College on Nov. 16.

New to the Big South schedule this year is an early start to conference play. The Lancers will make their first move in the standings onDec. 2 in the Big South opener at High Point before returning to the final portion of their non-conference schedule for the next six games. Longwood will then open the remainder of the 18-game Big South gauntlet that leads into the conference tournament in Conway, S.C., from March 3-6.

“We have another challenging Big South Conference schedule this year,” Gee said. “We start off at High Point, who will be my pick for the preseason No. 1 in our league, and continue on a grueling 18-game schedule. I expect the league to be as strong as it was last year when we defeated seven BCS level opponents. Every game will be a dogfight.”

Longwood’s nine home conference  matchups feature UNC Asheville (Dec. 31), Gardner-Webb (Jan. 2), Coastal Carolina (Jan. 9), Winthrop (Jan. 23), Radford (Jan. 27), Campbell (Feb. 3), Liberty (Feb. 13), High Point (Feb. 18) and Presbyterian (Feb. 25). Of those, Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb and Winthrop all made it to the Big South semifinals alongside the Lancers.

On the road in conference play, Longwood will take on High Point, Presbyterian (Jan. 6), Campbell (Jan. 14), Liberty (Jan. 19), UNC Asheville (Jan. 30), Charleston Southern (Feb. 6), Winthrop (Feb. 11), Gardner-Webb (Feb. 20) and Radford (Feb. 27). Longwood’s home-and-home opponents for 2015-16 will be Campbell, Gardner-Webb, High Point, Liberty, Presbyterian, Radford, Winthrop and UNC Asheville.

Longwood’s roster will feature four returning starters, five seniors and 12 returning letterwinners from last season’s squad, including Big South All-Tournament Team selection Shaquille Johnson (13.6 ppg., 5.6 rpg.), Big South steals leader Leron Fisher (10.8 ppg., 2.7 rpg.) and redshirt senior center Lotanna Nwogbo (12.9 ppg., 8.2 rpg.).

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