The University of Tennessee announced Thursday an agreement with the University of Louisville for a two-year, home-and-home series in men’s basketball.

Tennessee basketball home-and-home with Louisville

The series’ first game, scheduled on Nov. 9, 2024, at the KFC Yum! Center, will take place in Louisville, Kentucky, this fall and involve the Volunteers. Next season, the Cardinals will visit Knoxville once again, and they will play at Food City Center on December 16, 2025.

The twenty prior meetings between the roughly 250-mile-apart schools have resulted in an 8–12 record for Tennessee in the series. At neutral locations, the Volunteers are 2-2, at home, and on the road, 5-5. Every one of the last five matches has featured at least one team ranked in the top 15.

This will be the clubs’ second meeting while Rick Barnes is the head coach of Tennessee. On November 21, 2018, in the NIT Season Tip-Off at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., the fifth-ranked Volunteers defeated Louisville, 92-81. For the past fifteen seasons, there has only been one matchup between Tennessee and Louisville.

The Volunteers and Cardinals last played in a non-neutral game on January 22, 2005, with No. 14 Louisville winning 85-62 at home. The teams faced off in Knoxville the previous year on January 25, 2004, with fifth-ranked Louisville emerging victorious 65-62.

Before arriving at Rocky Top, Louisville graduate Wade Houston served as an assistant coach with the Cardinals for 13 seasons, from 1976 to 1989, before taking over as head coach at Tennessee. Houston also managed the Volunteers from 1989 to 1994. Houston, who grew up in the neighborhood of Alcoa, Tennessee, was one of the first three black men’s basketball players at Louisville in 1962 and the first black head coach in the SEC.

The Wade Houston Leadership Award was established by Barnes in March 2019 and is granted to the team member who best demonstrates leadership, a focus on the team, and an exceptional work ethic. Hank Bertelkamp, the captain of the 1952–53 team, and Wade’s son Allan, the all-time top scorer in Tennessee, are two of the six Louisville letter winners in the program.

Head coach Pat Kelsey, who led the College of Charleston to 75 victories in the previous three seasons, is taking charge of Louisville for the first time this season.

Tennessee will travel back to Illinois for the second leg of a home-and-home series with the Fighting Illini in 2024–25, making the Cardinals the second confirmed high-major team the Volunteers will travel against. On December 14, 2024, in Champaign, Illinois, that game—which pits two teams fresh out of Elite Eight appearances—is scheduled.

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