UK Men's Basketball

Calipari says non-conference schedule possibly toughest he’s faced as UK coach

PJ Washington dunked during the University of Kentucky’s 91-68 win over San Lorenzo de Almagro, a team from Argentina, in the Bahamas earlier this month.
PJ Washington dunked during the University of Kentucky’s 91-68 win over San Lorenzo de Almagro, a team from Argentina, in the Bahamas earlier this month. Uk Athletics

Kentucky announced its complete non-conference schedule for this coming men’s basketball season on Thursday.

Five home games against so-called mid-major opponents completed a non-conference schedule that’s expected to serve a major challenge for a Kentucky team carrying high expectations.

“This could be the most difficult schedule we’ve played in my time here,” UK Coach John Calipari said in a news release. “The only teams we left off were the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I will say this: For as tough as our schedule is going to be, I believe we have the type of team and kids to play it. Our goal in creating a schedule every season is to test our team while creating opportunities to learn and grow. This one will have more than its fair share of challenges. But my hope is that by season’s end, as we enter the (NCAA) tournament, we are prepared to play anyone and face anything a team tries to throw at us.”

Seven of UK’s 13 non-conference opponents next season made a postseason tournament appearance in 2018. Five played in the NCAA Tournament.

The five opponents made known for the first time Thursday were Southern Illinois (Nov. 9), North Dakota (Nov. 14), VMI (Nov. 18), Winthrop (Nov. 21) and Tennessee State (Nov. 23). The latter four will play Kentucky in Rupp Arena in what UK billed as the Ohio Valley Hardwood Showcase.

UK also announced it will play at Louisville on Dec. 29.

Non-conference opponents previously announced are Duke (Nov. 6 in Indianapolis), Monmouth (Nov. 28 in Rupp), UNC Greensboro (Dec. 1 in Rupp), Seton Hall (Dec. 8 in Madison Square Garden), Utah (Dec. 15 in Rupp), North Carolina (Dec. 22 in Chicago) and Kansas (Jan. 26 in Rupp).

2018-19 UK men’s non-conference schedule

(Home games in capital letters. Game times and SEC schedule to be announced at a later date)

Oct. 26 — TRANSYLVANIA (1)

Nov. 2 — INDIANA-PENNSYLVANIA (1)

Nov. 6 — Duke (2)

Nov. 9 — SOUTHERN ILLINOIS

Nov. 14 — NORTH DAKOTA (3)

Nov. 18 — VMI (3)

Nov. 21 — WINTHROP (3)

Nov. 23 — TENNESSEE STATE (3)

Nov. 28 — MONMOUTH

Dec. 1 — UNC GREENSBORO

Dec. 8 — Seton Hall (4)

Dec. 15 — UTAH

Dec. 22 — North Carolina (5)

Dec. 29 — At Louisville

Jan. 26 — KANSAS (6)

1-Exhibition; 2-State Farm Champions Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis; 3-Ohio Valley Hardwood Showcase; 4-Citi Hoops Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York; 5-CBS Sports Classic at United Center in Chicago; 6-SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

John Calipari tried to bring perspective to UK’s dominating play in the Bahamas. (Photo by Chet White of UK Athletics)

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