By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today
LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Kentucky coach John Calipari fully expects to play at Louisville this season despite concerns from Cardinals coach Chris Mack.
“Chris and I have talked and he expressed his concerns,” Calipari told the Louisville Courier-Journal Friday. “While I understand the difficulty and the complications created by the pandemic, we are prepared to come to Louisville to play this season under the previously agreed-upon terms, and we fully expect Louisville to honor the agreement with a return game to Rupp Arena next season.”
During an appearance on a podcast earlier this week, Mack questioned the logistics and shared his thoughts on the two schools playing amid a pandemic at the KFC Yum! Center.
“Where is the equity of Kentucky coming here in front of no fans and then having to go back to Rupp Arena in front of 21,000 fans?” Mack said. “But I recognize and we recognize the best rivalry in all of college basketball. If there was somehow we could do this at a neutral site, again that’s without talking to Kentucky and what their scheduling holds.”
Calipari added that Kentucky’s contest against Notre Dame and the SEC-Big 12 Challenge will be played this season.
“We are contracted to play Notre Dame and a Big 12 opponent for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge in Rupp Arena this season and we are honoring those contracts even if it is with little or no fans,” he said. “It is no one’s fault we are in a pandemic. We cannot predict the future with this virus whether that’s this December or next December. My hope is they are not trying to end this series because it is important for this state that we play.”
Last season, the Wildcats held off the Cardinals, 78-70 at Rupp Arena for a third straight win in the in-state series. Kentucky has won 11 of the last 13 games in the series, including six straight at Rupp Arena.
On Friday, the Southeastern Conference established Dec. 29-30 as the start dates for men’s basketball.
The league schedule will feature 20 dates for an 18-game schedule. One of those dates will be used for the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge in January.
The NCAA designated Oct. 14 as the beginning of preseason practice and teams can conduct 30 practices in a 42-day window.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.