By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky won’t officially have its 2019-20 basketball schedule put together for months but five games were released on social media by UK basketball Wednesday.
Count me as one who likes that UK will host Eastern Kentucky in its regular-season opener on Friday, Nov. 8 — the first of what will probably be at least three Friday home games in November. Kentucky easily beat Eastern in Rupp in both 2014 and 2015 and has not lost in 11 previous meetings with the Colonels.
Eastern finished 13-18 last year, including 6-12 in Ohio Valley Conference play, and brought in new coach A.W. Hamilton in hopes of reviving the program.
Kentucky’s season-opening game will be Nov. 5 at Madison Square Garden in New York in the Champions Classic against Michigan State. The Spartans, a Final Four team last season, return player of the year candidate Cassius Winston. Several early preseason polls have Michigan State No. 1.
Former Cat Walter McCarty, a key player on UK’s 1996 national championship team, indicated several months ago his Evansville team would play Kentucky this year — and he was right. Evansville will be in Rupp Arena Tuesday, Nov. 12, after going 11-21 in McCarty’s first season. The two teams have never played.
“To be able to go back to where I played college and had a lot of success is a tremendous opportunity for our program,” head coach Walter McCarty said in a news release. “I am grateful to (UK head coach) John (Calipari) for helping to make this happen
The week before Christmas — and week after final exams — will have Kentucky in Las Vegas. The Wildcats will play Utah at T-Mobile Arena in on Dec. 18 after hosting Utah last year. Then on Dec. 21 the Cats will play Ohio State in the CBS Sports Classic.
Kentucky finished 30-7 last season, including a 15-3 mark in the Southeastern Conference, and reached the Elite Eight.
Coach John Calipari currently has the nation’s No. 3 recruiting class but could move that to No. 1 depending on what several players, including Johnny Juzang today, decide about their college choices.