UK Men's Basketball

Kentucky, Louisville to host Big East/SEC Challenge games

Kentucky has added another significant test to what is shaping up to be a challenging 2011-12 men's basketball schedule.

Pairings were announced Thursday for the Big East/SEC Challenge, and Kentucky was matched up with St. John's in a Dec. 1 game in Rupp Arena.

The Red Storm went 21-12 and reached the NCAA Tournament in Steve Lavin's first year as head coach last season. Though the team lost four of its five starters, St. John's boasts the nation's No. 3 recruiting class, according to Rivals.com.

Kentucky previously announced it will play Kansas in the ESPN Champions Classic on Nov. 15 at New York's Madison Square Garden.

The Cats also have their traditional games against Louisville and North Carolina, both of whom are projected by many as top-five teams. Both of those games will be in Rupp Arena.

Kentucky's schedule also includes predicted top-25 Southeastern Conference foes in Alabama, Vanderbilt and Florida.

UK typically does not release its official, complete schedule until sometime in late July or early August.

The Big East/SEC Challenge will feature all 12 schools in the Southeastern Conference going against 12 schools from the Big East over a three-day period beginning Dec. 1. The event also features Vanderbilt visiting Louisville on Dec. 2. Only matchups and dates have been announced. Game times and networks will be announced at a later date.

"The exposure of SEC basketball prior to conference play is important to our league, and the opportunity to face St. John's in Rupp Arena with their great tradition is unique," UK Coach John Calipari said in a news release. "They have been recharged by a terrific coach in Steve Lavin, and we look forward to the challenge."

The Wildcats lead the all-time series against the Red Storm 10-5. However, the two haven't met since the season opener of the 2000-01 season, a game won by St. John's 62-61 in New York. The two haven't met in Lexington since 1977.

"It is a unique opportunity for St. John's to have a non-conference schedule that includes matchups against three of the most-storied programs in the history of college basketball in Kentucky, UCLA and Duke," Lavin said in a statement. "Facing UK at Rupp Arena in front of a raucous crowd will be a valuable experience in preparation for Big East Conference play."

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