The Cal State Bakersfield men's basketball team will be plenty battle-tested before its final season of conference play in the WAC.
Released Thursday morning, the Roadrunners' 2019-20 schedule includes road matchups with a perennial top-10 opponent, the 2019 national runner-up and a familiar face now on the roster of an ascending SEC team.
After hosting a scrimmage against Westcliff on Nov. 2, CSUB begins its non-conference slate with back-to-back home games against Notre Dame De Namur on Nov. 5 and South Dakota State on Nov. 9.
For the second straight year, the Roadrunners will face Gonzaga in Spokane, with this season's meeting coming on Nov. 23. The Bulldogs beat CSUB 89-54 last Dec. 31.
A Dec. 7 road matchup with Ole Miss brings a homecoming for Roadrunner coach Rod Barnes, who was an All-SEC player for the Rebels in 1988.
Barnes also worked on the Rebel coaching staff from 1993 to 2006, serving as the head coach from 1998-2006. In that time, he compiled a 141-109 record, made three NCAA Tournament appearances and earned Naismith and SEC Coach of the Year honors in 2001.
The game will also reunite CSUB with former guard Jarkel Joiner, who transferred to Mississippi after averaging a team-high 15.6 points per game for the Roadrunners last year. Joiner won't be participating in the game, as NCAA transfer rules are forcing him to sit out this season.
Starting with the trip to Oxford, the Roadrunners will play four of their final five non-conference games on the road, a stretch that culminates with a Dec. 29 game against Texas Tech, which fell to Virginia 85-77 in the national championship game last April.
"The only way for us to be our best is to play against the best opponents,” Barnes said in a CSUB news release. “In order to return to the NCAA Tournament, we’re going to have to beat some great teams along the way and I believe our schedule is going to teach us exactly how to do that.”
Conference play begins and ends with games against Grand Canyon. The Roadrunners host the Antelopes on Jan. 4, then travel to Phoenix March 7.
Defending conference champion and preseason WAC favorite New Mexico State will host CSUB on Jan. 30 before coming to Bakersfield on Feb. 29.