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Tennessee looking to add non-conference games after COVID shutdown

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a bumpy start to the 2020-21 college basketball season. That may be putting it too lightly.

The season was initially delayed a few weeks, but finally kicked off on Wednesday with a handful of games. However, several teams are still waiting on the sidelines due to COVID issues. Tennessee is one of them. Baylor, Duke and Oregon are other prominent programs to experience early issues.

The Volunteers paused all team activities on Monday after an outbreak within the program. Head Coach Rick Barnes was one of the positive tests, the University announced. This development called off the scheduled multi-team event in Knoxville, which was going to provide matchups against VCU and Charlotte.

Games against Notre Dame and Gonzaga in the following week were also canned. That leaves Tennessee with just four non-conference games ahead of SEC play. Obviously, the staff would love to add more games, so that’s exactly what they’re trying to do during this shutdown.

Tennessee associate head coach Michael Shwartz appeared on Vol Calls on Wednesday night to discuss the situation.

“We have basically the whole month of December to try to add some of these games back,” said Shwartz, who has been in charge of Tennessee’s schedule since former associate head coach Rob Lanier left to take over as head coach at Georgia State. “Again, we’re aggressively working on doing that.

“We’re in conversations and we will (add games), we just don’t have specific dates or opponents yet. But it’s absolutely the goal to get us to the maximum number of games. Hopefully sooner than later we’ll have those dates filled.” (Via 247 Sports/Vol Calls)

Tennessee lost three quality matchups to start the season, in addition to already cancelling games against Wisconsin and Memphis. The next scheduled date is a game with Cincinnati in Knoxville on December 12th.

Appalachian State, Tennessee Tech and USC Upstate are the only other non-conference matchups scheduled currently for December. Tennessee opens SEC play against Missouri on Wednesday, December 30th.

Expect some news on these new games soon.