PROVO — When BYU tips off the West Coast Conference basketball season, it will also be ringing in the New Year in Southern California.

The WCC released the league’s schedule Thursday with the Cougars opening up at Pepperdine on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31. 

Four of BYU’s first five league contests will be on the road, including a Jan. 14 matchup at Saint Mary’s. The Cougars will host the Gaels Feb. 11. 

BYU’s two games against WCC powerhouse Gonzaga will be Feb. 6 in Spokane and then Feb. 27 in Provo — in the regular-season finale for both teams. 

Last February, the No. 23 Cougars upset the No. 2 Zags at the Marriott Center, 91-78, in their regular-season finale. 

Four of BYU’s final six WCC games will be at home. 

This marks the third year that the WCC will play a 16-game conference schedule. 

In addition to the Cougars’ home-and-home series against Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s, they will also play Pepperdine, Pacific, Portland, San Francisco and San Diego twice. The Cougars face Loyola Marymount (Feb. 20 on the road) and Santa Clara (Feb. 25 at home) once. 

BYU’s nonconference schedule has not been announced. Broadcast plans for the WCC schedule will be announced later. 

A year ago, the Cougars finished 13-3 in WCC play and 24-8 overall. BYU was projected to be seeded as high as No. 6 in the NCAA Tournament before it was canceled due to the global pandemic.

The Cougars posted an 8-0 record at home in the WCC last season. 

Though BYU lost seven seniors from last year’s team, coach Mark Pope has several key players coming back and he welcomes a crop of impressive newcomers.

Alex Barcello, Connor Harding, Gavin Baxter, Trevin Knell, Kolby Lee and Jesse Wade return while graduate transfers Matt Haarms (Purdue) and Brandon Averette (Utah Valley University) join the program along with transfers Spencer Johnson (Salt Lake Community College) and Gideon George (New Mexico JC) and freshmen Caleb Lohner and Hunter Erickson. Richard Harward and Wyatt Lowell, who redshirted a year ago after transferring from UVU, are eligible this season. 

BYU’s 2020-21 WCC conference schedule

Dec. 31 — at Pepperdine

Jan. 2 — at San Diego

Jan. 7 — Pacific

Jan. 14 — at Saint Mary’s

Jan. 16 — at San Francisco

Jan. 21 — Portland

Jan. 23 — Pepperdine

Jan. 30 — San Francisco

Feb. 4 — at Portland

Feb. 6 — at Gonzaga

Feb. 11 — Saint Mary’s

Feb. 13 — San Diego

Feb. 18 — at Pacific

Feb. 20 — at Loyola Marymount

Feb. 25 — Santa Clara

Feb. 27 — Gonzaga