WKU set to play Kentucky for the first time since 2012

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Alexandra Hendricks

WKU center Jamarion Sharp (33) dunks to give WKU a point during the WKU v University of Louisville basketball game at Diddle Arena on Dec. 18, 2021.

Kaden Gaylord-Day, Men's basketball reporter

After a quick turn of events, the WKU Men’s Basketball will face the Kentucky Wildcats on Wednesday. 

The Hilltoppers (8-4) will play their first regular-season game against the Wildcats (8-2) since 2001. 

WKU’s previously scheduled road trip to Austin Peay has been mutually agreed to be moved back to the 2022-23 season. Kentucky’s previously scheduled home game against Louisville was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Cardinal program.

“We really appreciate the cooperation from Mitch Barnhart and Coach Calipari in working with us so quickly in scheduling this game,” WKU Director of Athletics Todd Stewart said in a release. “I know our fans will be excited about playing Kentucky, and our program always looks for challenging opportunities on a national stage.  Most importantly, playing this game will result in providing relief to those who have been impacted the most from the devastating tornadoes in our region.”

UK Athletics is also working on a charitable component for the game that will provide support for those who were affected by the Dec. 11 tornadoes that impacted Bowling Green. 

“We want to extend our appreciation to Coach Calipari and Kentucky for their willingness to play this game,” head coach Rick Stansbury said in the release. “This is a great opportunity to raise awareness about what our state is going through right now and continue to build support for those in Western Kentucky affected by the recent tornadoes, including the people of Bowling Green. I know Cal and Kentucky didn’t have to do this, but it speaks volumes about their willingness to help the state of Kentucky.” 

The Hilltoppers are 2-4 all-time against the Wildcats, the last meeting coming in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Kentucky won that game 81-66 and went on to win the national championship. 

The last regular season meeting between the programs was on Nov. 15, 2001, when WKU upset No. 4 Kentucky 64-52 in Lexington. 

The teams have only played each other three times in the regular season in 2001, 1992 and 1990.

WKU is 11-8 against Power Five opponents over the last five years, including two victories over Ole Miss and Louisville this season.

The Hilltoppers dominated Ole Miss 71-48 in Atlanta at the Holiday Hoopsgiving on Dec. 11, then beat Louisville 82-72 in Diddle Arena this past Saturday. 

WKU is also 4-1 against the SEC in the last four years.

Head coach Rick Stansbury is no stranger to playing the Wildcats. The longtime former head coach at Mississippi State is 144-117 in his career against the SEC, including a 4-13 record against Kentucky.

Men’s basketball reporter Kaden Gaylord-Day can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @_KLG3.