Kentucky will play two in-state NCAA Division III colleges — Centre and Thomas More — in preseason exhibition games this fall.
UK will play Thomas More on Oct. 27. Then the Cats will play Centre on Nov. 3.
Thomas More Coach Drew Cooper expressed gratitude for Kentucky helping in-state schools.
“Coach (John) Calipari and his staff are doing a wonderful thing for this state by annually allowing young men from in-state small colleges and their program to share in the remarkable history and tradition of UK basketball,” Cooper said in a news release. “Thomas More is a special community, and I’m elated that UK has chosen us to play in an exhibition.”
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In recent seasons, Kentucky has played exhibition games against Asbury (2016), Kentucky State (2015), Georgetown College (2014) and Transylvania (2011-13).
Kentucky, which Calipari has said might be his youngest team ever, faces experienced teams in both of this fall’s exhibitions.
Thomas More, which is minutes south of Cincinnati in Crestview Hills, returns all five starters and 18 players overall from a team that had a 22-7 record last season. The team won the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Tournament before losing in the first round of the Division III NCAA Tournament.
“We’ll try our hardest for 40 minutes in hopes each team can benefit in order to prepare for their respective upcoming seasons,” Cooper said.
It will be the first time Thomas More has played Kentucky.
By contrast, Centre has a long, though distant, history of playing UK. According to a release by Centre, Kentucky has a 25-19 record in head-to-head games. The teams last played on Feb. 13, 1929: a 47-11 UK victory.
Centre can boast having inflicted the most lopsided defeat in Kentucky basketball history. Centre beat UK 87-17 on Jan. 28, 1910.
Centre also beat UK two other times that season.
Centre, which was the alma mater of iconic UK play-by-play announcer Cawood Ledford (class of 1949), returns four starters from a team that had a 14-11 record last season.
“What an amazing opportunity for us … ,” Centre Coach Greg Mason said in a news release. “November 3rd will be a fun night for our players, our staff, our alumni and our fans. We are very appreciative of this opportunity.”
2017-18 UK schedule
UK has announced dates for its preseason exhibition games and its regular-season non-conference contests. The Southeastern Conference schedule will be completed later this summer (Home games in all capital letters):
Oct. 27: THOMAS MORE
Nov. 3: CENTRE
Nov. 10: UTAH VALLEY
Nov. 12: VERMONT
Nov. 14: Kansas-1
Nov. 17: EAST TENNESSEE ST.
Nov. 20: TROY
Nov. 22: FORT WAYNE
Nov. 26: ILLINOIS-CHICAGO
Dec. 2: HARVARD
Dec. 9: Monmouth
Dec. 16: VIRGINIA TECH
Dec. 23: UCLA-3
Dec. 29: LOUISVILLE
Jan. 27: at West Virginia-4
1-Champions Classic at United Center in Chicago. 2-Citi Double Cash Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 3-CBS Sports Classic at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. 4-Big 12/SEC Challenge at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va.
UK’S SEC OPPONENTS
Home games: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt
Road games: Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt