It took several years to happen, but it’s finally happening. Tennessee and Texas will meet again on the basketball court, marking the first time Rick Barnes will face his old program since being fired back in 2015. Barnes spent 17 seasons as the head coach at Texas, before the program moved on to Shaka Smart.
Smart preemptively moved to the Marquette job this offseason, clearing the way for former Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard to make the move to Austin.
Tennessee and Texas will now meet as a part of the Big 12-SEC Challenge, which will be held in January once again this year.
Barnes is now entering his seventh season at Tennessee.
In six previous meetings with Texas, the series is split at 3-3. Of course, the most memorable moment in the series came off of the hand of Chris Lofton, who buried a three-pointer in the face of Kevin Durant to eventually send Tennessee to an overtime win in 2006.
The Texas matchup joins a stacked non-conference slate for Tennessee. The Volunteers will face Memphis in Nashville, meet Texas Tech in New York City, host Arizona and travel to face Colorado in Boulder. They’ll also face Villanova and then North Carolina or Purdue in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.
The SEC won last year’s Big 12/SEC Challenge, 5-4. The ESPN family of networks will carry all the action once again this year.