Kentucky sets dates, opponents for Bahamas trip

jtipton@herald-leader.comJune 13, 2014 

Aaron Harrison spoke as Coach John Calipari and several other players took part in a new conference in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tx., Sunday, April 06, 2014. UK will play UCONN Monday night for the National title. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff

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  • Bahamas tour

    When: Aug. 10-17

    Where: Nassau, Bahamas

    Tickets/travel: Visit UKfantravel.com or call 1-855-852-2255.

Kentucky announced Friday the dates for its preseason exhibition basketball games in the Bahamas: Aug. 10-17.

UK will play the Dominican Republic national team, the Puerto Rico national team reserves and a pro team from France, Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket, twice each during the trip to the Bahamas. The games will be played in Nassau's 2,500-seat Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium, which was renovated earlier this year.

NCAA rules allow for a foreign tour by an intercollegiate team once every four academic years. Kentucky has dubbed this trip the "Big Blue Bahamas tour."

The Wildcats will play their first game Sunday, Aug. 10 against the Puerto Rico reserves at 5 p.m. EDT. The next day, UK will face Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket at 1 p.m. On Tuesday, Aug. 12, Kentucky will play the Puerto Rico reserves for the second time at 1 p.m.

After a day off on Aug. 13, Kentucky will face the Dominican Republic on Aug. 14 at 5 p.m. The second game against Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket will be played either Aug. 15 or 16 (date to be determined) at 1 p.m. Kentucky will finish the tour on Sunday, Aug. 17 against the Dominican Republic at noon.

"We are excited to make the trip to the Bahamas for our foreign tour," UK Coach John Calipari said in a news release. "... My goal is for our team to grow together, to learn about one another, to have fun and to compete against teams that will stretch us out. These teams should be a challenge that will let us really see where we are at this point. But again, learning and having fun will be the emphasis of the trip. It's another opportunity for us to fail fast."

Kentucky is hardly alone in playing preseason games in the Bahamas in August. ESPN reported that North Carolina, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Mississippi planned to go to the Bahamas for games.

Besides the chance to give newcomers game experience, exhibitions also permit participating teams to practice 10 extra times.

"Six of our top seven return and we've got four new impact-level newcomers with two post-grads and two junior-college guards," Mississippi Coach Andy Kennedy told ESPN.com. "It's a good time to see how we should play."

Morehead State also plans to play exhibitions in the Bahamas, spokesman Matt Segal said.

UK released information about how fans can sign up for travel packages. More information is available at ukfantravel.com. To book travel packages, call 1-855-UKBBALL (1-855-852-2255). Only those who book through the Big Blue Bahamas tour travel company will have access to tickets, UK said.

UK also said it expected to determine by next week if games will be televised and/or broadcast on the radio.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com.

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