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SEC completes basketball schedule

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The 2018-19 Kentucky men’s basketball schedule is now complete as the league office announced the upcoming conference slate Friday. The Wildcats are seeking their 49th regular-season league crown and sixth under 10th-year head coach John Calipari.

The 18-game Southeastern Conference schedule features all 13 teams in the league at least once. Kentucky has home-and-home dates with Auburn and Mississippi State, in addition to permanent home-and-home foes Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

UK’s schedule is balanced with no trip or stretch of home games lasting more than two in a row (which includes the SEC/Big 12 Challenge). The Wildcats will also have a familiar weekly pattern of Tuesday-Saturday games every week once conference play starts. Kentucky tips off the SEC season at Alabama on Jan. 5.

 

Following the league lid-lifter, UK will return home for four of its next six games. Up first on that list is Texas A&M on Jan. 8 followed by the first meeting with Vanderbilt on Jan. 12. The Cats will then venture away from home with matchups at Georgia on Jan. 15 and to the defending SEC co-champions Auburn Tigers on Jan. 19.

The Cats return home for the first of two meetings with Mississippi State on Jan. 22 and will complete the home stand with the final nonconference matchup of the year in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge against Kansas on Jan. 26.

Kentucky will make its return trip to Nashville, Tennessee, to complete its 2018-19 series with the Commodores on Jan. 29 before an always grueling date with Florida in Gainesville to open the month of February.

UK will make a short trip home to take on South Carolina on Feb. 5, before traveling to Mississippi State on Feb. 9.

Home dates with LSU (Feb. 12), Tennessee (Feb. 16), Auburn (Feb. 23) and Arkansas (Feb. 26) bookend a road trip to Missouri on Feb. 19.

The Cats will play back-to-back games on the road at Tennessee on March 2 and at Ole Miss on March 5, before wrapping up regular-season action at home against Florida on March 9.

The SEC Tournament is slated to return to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, beginning March 13 with a champion being crowned on March 17.

Complete television information and tip times will be announced at a later date.

UK announced its nonconference schedule on Thursday. Seven of UK’s 13 nonconference opponents in the upcoming season made a postseason tournament in 2018, five of which made the NCAA Tournament.

Combined with the league schedule, the Wildcats will face 16 teams that played in the postseason in 2018, including 12 in the NCAA Tournament. UK’s competition combined to go 526-356 (.596) last season.

Kentucky will meet that schedule head on with what looks to be a solid blend of talent and experience. The Wildcats welcome back PJ Washington, UK’s third-leading scorer and leading rebounder from a season ago, Quade Green, the Wildcats’ second-leading assist man, and Nick Richards, who started every game in 2017-18. To replace the losses of Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jarred Vanderbilt, Hamdiou Diallo and Wenyen Gabriel, all of whom have signed NBA contracts, Calipari has brought in another top-ranked recruiting class, which showcased its talent during UK’s 4-0 foreign exhibition tour in the Bahamas.

The league is coming off a banner season in 2017-18. A record eight SEC teams participated in the 2018 NCAA Tournament and the conference defeated the Big 12 6-4 in the annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Four league teams are in ESPN.com’s way-too-early top-25 rankings and five are in the CBS Sports way-too-early rankings.

All told, 20 of ESPN.com’s Top 100 recruits having signed with SEC schools. The SEC boasts six of ESPN.com’s Top 25 in-coming recruiting classes.

Kentucky’s three-year run of SEC regular-season championships came to an end last season, but the SEC Tournament streak marched on. UK won its fourth straight league tourney title and sixth overall in nine seasons under John Calipari.

 

Opponent 2017-18 Record Postseason Final RPI Final Ranking (AP/Coaches) KenPom.com Final Ranking Series History Last Meeting
Duke 29-8 NCAA Elite 8 5 9/4 3 UK leads 12-9 UK won 74-63 on 11/17/15
Southern Illinois 20-13 97 –/– 135 Never met Never met
North Dakota 12-20 221 –/– 239 Never met Never met
VMI 9-21 315 –/– 331 UK leads 5-3 UK lost 111-103 on 11/14/08
Winthrop 19-12 166 –/– 160 UK leads 2-0 UK won 89-52 on 12/22/10
Tennessee State 15-15 191 –/– 198 UK leads 4-0 UK won 102-58 on 12/22/08
Monmouth 11-20 207 –/– 183 UK leads 1-0 UK won 93-76 on 12/9/17
UNCG 27-8 NCAA first round 66 –/– 82 Never met Never met
Seton Hall 22-12 NCAA second round 31 –/– 26 Tied 1-1 UK lost 63-60 on 11/26/88
Utah 23-12 NIT runner-up 40 –/RV 58 UK leads 9-2 UK won 62-52 on 3/25/05
North Carolina 26-11 NCAA second round 6 10/14 8 UK trails 24-15 UK lost 75-73 on 3/26/17
Louisville 22-14 NIT quarterfinals 42 –/– 38 UK leads 35-16 UK won 90-61 on 12/29/17
Kansas 31-8 NCAA Final Four 3 4/3 9 UK leads 22-9 UK lost 65-61 on 11/14/17
Alabama 20-16 NCAA second round 41 –/– 57 UK leads 112-37 UK won 86-63 on 3/10/18
Arkansas 23-12 NCAA first round 34 RV/– 44 UK leads 31-11 UK won 87-72 on 2/20/18
Auburn 26-8 NCAA second round 16 19/23 23 UK leads 92-19

 

UK lost 76-66 on 2/14/18
Florida 21-13 NCAA second round 43 23/RV 22 UK leads 100-40 UK lost 80-67 on 3/3/18
Georgia 18-15 80 –/– 65 UK leads 126-26 UK won 62-49 on 3/9/18
LSU 18-15 NIT second round 88 –/– 66 UK leads 89-26 UK won 74-71 on 1/3/18
Mississippi State 25-12 NIT semifinals 55 –/– 54 UK leads 95-20 UK won 78-65 1/23/18
Missouri 20-13 NCAA first round 49 RV/– 40 UK leads 11-1 UK won 87-66 on 2/24/18
Ole Miss 12-20 145 –/– 108 UK leads 106-13 UK won 96-78 on 2/28/18
South Carolina 17-16 90 –/– 80 UK leads 51-12 UK lost 76-68 on 1/16/18
Tennessee 26-9 NCAA second round 10 13/16 13 UK leads 154-71 UK won 77-72 on 3/11/18
Texas A&M 22-13 NCAA Sweet 16 25 –/24 29 UK leads 9-4 UK lost 85-74 on 2/10/18
Vanderbilt 12-20 131 –/– 91 UK leads 145-47 UK won 83-81 on 1/30/18

 

2018-19 Schedule Overview

  • Combined record in 2017-18: ­­526-356 (.596)
  • Teams in postseason: 16
  • Teams in NCAA Tournament: 12
  • Teams that advanced to the Sweet 16 or better: 3
  • Average RPI ranking in 2017-18: 84.5
  • Teams that finished the seasons in the polls: 7
  • First-time opponents: 3

 

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