UK to play Oklahoma in Maui opener

Oklahoma will be Kentucky's first-round opponent in the 2010 Maui Invitational.

Pairings were announced Thursday for the annual college basketball tournament in Lahaina, Hawaii, on the island of Maui, which will be held Nov. 22-24.

Kentucky plays Oklahoma at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, Nov. 22. If UK wins, the Cats will play the winner of the Virginia-Washington game in the semifinals on Nov. 23.

Oklahoma is coming off a 13-18 season under Coach Jeff Capel and must replace leading scorer Willie Warren and top rebounder Tiny Gallon, who both moved on to the NBA.

Kentucky will also enter the tournament with an inexperienced squad, having to replace nine players from last season's 35-3 team that bowed out in the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight.

A Kentucky victory over Oklahoma could lead to a highly anticipated meeting with Washington. The game would pit UK freshmen Enes Kanter and Terrence Jones against the school both players committed to verbally before changing course and signing with Kentucky.

The other two first-round matchups in the eight-team Maui field feature Wichita State vs. Connecticut and Michigan State against Chaminade.

Kentucky's first-round game will be televised on ESPN2. Both semifinal games and the championship game will be on ESPN.

Three of the eight teams in Maui appear in various pre-season Top 25 projections — Kentucky, Michigan State and Washington — with most viewing the Spartans as a national title contender.

Wichita State has also attracted attention, Virginia is putting things together under second-year coach Tony Bennett, and Connecticut and Oklahoma bring traditional power reputations if not traditional power. The eighth school is the host team, NCAA Division II Chaminade.

Kentucky is playing in the Maui Invitational for the fifth time. The Cats have an overall record of 8-4 in the tournament, having appeared in 1993 (first place), 1997 (third), 2002 (third) and 2006 (fourth).

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