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Western Kentucky would play UK under “any scenario” John Calipari wanted

Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury, left, joked with a UK fan at the Louisville Quarterback Club meeting. (Larry Vaught Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Western Kentucky athletics director Todd Stewart said the tweet from the Western Kentucky basketball Twitter account offering to play Kentucky again after the Cats scheduled games with Conference-USA foes Marshall and UAB was not meant as a “bring-it-on challenge” to the Wildcats even if did seem that way to UK fans.

“This is not meant to come across as a challenge, any kind of a bring-it-on challenge whatsoever, but we would play Kentucky any year they want to play in Rupp Arena. If we aren’t playing in basketball, it’s not because we don’t want to,” Stewart said during a Zoom call with media members last week. “We would play them under probably, virtually any scenario that they would come up with.”

Remember Western did offer to donate any guaranteed money from playing in Rupp Arena next season to charity … and apparently the two schools did talk about playing and says talks are still ongoing for future seasons.
Now Kentucky fans should like this. During the Zoom call Stewart said “UK is the best basketball program in the nation and he understand scheduling issues for a team like Kentucky.

The Bowling Green Daily News also said Stewart praised UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart for agreeing to a four-game football deal where the schools played each yer from 2010-13.

“There was really no reason for him to do that or Kentucky to do that, but he did and in doing so, obviously it was great for us, but I think it was great for fans in the state of Kentucky as well,” Stewart said. “I think if you talk to UK fans, they would probably rather them play (as opposed to out-of-state teams in non-SEC games).”
Stewart — and coach Rick Stansbury — would love for a series where UK comes to Bowling Green to play, something Kentucky has never done.

“I think we need to be honest with each other – I think that’s probably not likely to occur. Again, I understand that. They have very unusual dynamics and obligations with their scheduling,” Stewart said.

He’s right. No way would I ever see John Calipari agreeing to play a game at Western, Murray, Eastern Kentucky, Morehead or Northern Kentucky. Just won’t happen.

But I am one who would like to see UK play Western and not UAB or Marshall. Sure it would help the Hilltoppers, but if Kentucky is going to be a national title contender, playing Western Kentucky at Rupp Arena should not be an insurmountable obstacle occasionally.

“The stature of their program – you want to be measured against the very best, and that’s a big reason why we would play them, but also if you look at it historically, these are two of the best basketball programs of all time,” Stewart said.

“I just think that’s unfortunate for basketball fans in the state of Kentucky. When you have two top programs like that basically two and a half hours apart, it just seems like they ought to play more than three times in the regular season. Hopefully that’s something that we can get done in the near future.”

6 comments

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  1. Sure hope they eventually play

  2. Me too Larry!

  3. I suggest UK schedule WKU for demolition at Rupp, beat the snot out of them if they can, , and take the proceeds and give it to charity, or cancer research, or to world hunger, and that will probably be the last UK ever hears from Stewart and Stansbury. In reality, what does UK gain by playing WKU? Nothing!!! There are already to many must win rivalry games on UK’s schedule in the likes of Louisville, Tennessee, and the rest of the tough SEC, and still some want the Cats to play IU as well. Don’t need another instate school on the schedule to prop up, JMO. I say let WKU take care of their business in CUSA, and UK take care of theirs in the SEC, and then just trust fate to pit these two teams against each other some day in the big dance. Now that would be a hard ticket to get. That said, a scheduled game will probably happen sooner or later though. This is getting “gummed to death” of late.

  4. Not going to happen – I’ve been around WKU since before the 71 game when Jimmy Mac played here – great game. Kentucky cannot afford to lose to a mid-major they have a life time record to uphold similar to ours and they can’t afford another Evansville to sneak in and steal one from them. We do have the talent to play the Blue Blood this year, Carson Williams – Charles Bassey – Taveion, Rawls, Anderson, Cozart, Kenny Cooper (stop it you can look at the roster) the talent is there to win in Rupp ! But alas it will have to be in the Big Dance if we have one. WKU will have to win its conference to advance we need to focus and start there – playing UK is not the priority from the basketball Gods – its win your league and advance that’s today’s Basketball for a mid-Major – not the same as it was in the 70’s 80’s its a new day new game its business the game is all business the passion the fever of big games in Diddle is gone with the exception Louisville and when Stewart swings a Wisconsin & or Arkansas with a football deal we don’t need a one and done deal with UK its not in our best interest either. Glad to see UAB & Marshal from our conference get to play in Rupp that’s a great environment for them to come into 20k plus fan’s they will be a better team for the experience. Good Luck UK – maybe just maybe if things play out just right we get this game in the NCAA Tournament I’d pay for those tickets.

  5. Basketball purists in KY would love to see a true Kentucky Invitational Tournament. UK, UL, Murray, WKU. EKU, Morehead, NKU, and KWU. It would become an annual December classic that would get picked up by ESPN in a heartbeat! How can you be the best team in the country if you aren’t the best team in your state? I think it would help us be a better prepared team for SEC and NCAA play.

    1. I doubt it.

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