LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky men’s basketball team will host Southern on December 7 at Rupp Arena as part of the inaugural Unity series with the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
The five-year series will feature annual games against schools in SWAC, which is made up of historically black colleges and universities. Starting in 2021 and ending in 2025, the games will seek to raise awareness of the missions of HBCUs and raise funds to provide opportunities for students at their institutions.
“I am truly proud of our leadership for identifying an opportunity to leverage what we do on the basketball court and exploit it in an annual week-long event that will have a major impact on HBCUs and their students. “said the British head coach. Jean Calipari noted. “I hope this event not only opens the door to opportunities for HBCU students, but that others in our school and across the country will take advantage of the educational opportunities we put in place to continue the conversations and change. significant events that have taken place over the past year. “
In the week leading up to the game each year, the Unity Series will feature educational and networking opportunities at UK and SWAC institutions. Campus leaders from Kentucky Schools and SWAC will host virtual panels and leadership workshops available to students from all institutions that address current issues in multiple disciplines and highlight educational opportunities on campus. In addition to these panels and workshops, institutions will provide students with resources to learn more about internships, career planning and networking.
“Our philosophy in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion division of UK Athletics opens up areas of opportunity, education, listening and learning,” said Pierre Olivier, Executive Assistant Director of Sports for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Kentucky. “This series featuring HBCUs, starting with a big institution like Southern University, will provide these universities with a spotlight on the biggest varsity basketball scene. This year’s game with Southern is even more special for me. because I coached Southern Head Coach Sean Woods We are honored to play a role in providing access to our powerful platform.
“We are engaged in educational initiatives here in the UK, so the educational and networking opportunities of the Unity Series will play a part in one of our goals, adding to the learning resources. We also believe in the power of community, so we hope this series will raise awareness of the powerful history and ongoing missions of HBCUs as well as conferences like SWAC. We look forward to strengthening the links between our institutions. “
The Unity Series week will culminate with the annual game at Rupp Arena.
“The Southwestern Athletic Conference is extremely excited to partner with the University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Program on unifying initiatives that will dramatically increase overall awareness of the missions of our 12 member institutions and HBCUs in together, ”said SWAC Commissioner Dr Charles McClelland. . “The educational and networking opportunities this partnership will offer our students and student-athletes undoubtedly goes far beyond basketball. We look forward to doing our part to make this innovative strategic plan a success. We would like to thank the University of Kentucky’s Department of Athletics leadership as well as Coach Calipari and his staff for making this very laudable initiative a reality. “
The Unity Series game is the latest addition to the Kentucky non-conference program that is expected to be announced in full soon.
Last week, the dates for Big Blue Madness Presented by Papa John’s, the annual announcement of Kentucky’s men’s and women’s basketball seasons, and the Blue-White Game, the UK’s annual intra-team scrum, were announced. been fixed. Big Blue Madness takes place on October 15 at the Rupp Arena at 7 p.m. ET. The blue-white match is scheduled for October 22 at the Rupp Arena at 7 p.m.
The game against Southern will also be a kind of reunion for Sean Woods, head coach of the Jaguars and former British player. A member of the UK Athletics Hall of Fame, Woods is the program’s all-time leader in career assists per game (5.3) and was the program leader in career steals by match (1,582) at the end of his career.
Woods led Kentucky in assists in their three seasons of action, but he particularly shone in the momentous 1992 season. Southeastern Conference that season, he played a key role in the UK’s run to the Eastern Regional Finals. The 1992 regional all-star selection recorded 21 points, nine assists and scored the go-ahead basket with 2.1 seconds left against Duke in what many consider to be basketball’s greatest game. varsity ball of all time. The Blue Devils won improbably.
“It’s always nice to come home and take your players to a place where you’ve played,” said Woods. “I always wanted my guys to have the same kind of experience I had as a student-athlete and what better place to take them than to one of the most historic places in college basketball. , Rupp Arena. I can’t wait to be competitive and have a chance to win too, but not just that to have the chance to play in front of my family and friends and take my guys to where it all started for me . “
Woods has previously coached against his alma mater in previous head coaching stops at Mississippi Valley State and Morehead State.
Although the official series against Southern is 0-0, the two schools have already met. Kentucky defeated the Jaguars 99-84 in the 1988 NCAA tournament, but the game was erased from the record books as part of sanctions imposed on the British program in 1989.
Southern was 8-11 in the shortened 2020-21 season of COVID-19. The Jaguars are set to return two of their top three scorers from a season ago with guards Jayden Saddler and Ahsante Shivers.
Membership renewals for the 2021-22 season are now available to all men’s basketball season ticket holders. The renewal deadline is September 9th.
Renewals are available online through each subscription holder’s My UK Athletics account. Printable invoices are also available online by visiting My UK Athletics Account for those wishing to complete their renewal by mail. Fans needing assistance with their online account are encouraged to contact the UK Box Office at (859) 257-1818 (option 4) or send an email to [email protected]
Fans interested in purchasing new tickets are encouraged to enter the Men’s Basketball Season Ticket Lottery online. For more information on the lower tier seats currently available with a K Fund pledge pledge, please contact the UK Athletics K Fund staff at (859) 257-6300.
While continuing to monitor the latest health and safety guidelines from local and national authorities, UK Athletics plans to operate venues at full capacity this season.
The Wildcats will enter the 2020-21 season as a Final Four contender with one of the most experienced teams in the country. The UK’s roster for 2021-22 currently includes one sixth year graduate, one fifth year graduate, one junior redshirt, six juniors, one second redshirt, two sophomores and three four and five star freshmen. highly touted.
Calipari’s side will return 42.1% of their minutes, 41.9% of their goals, 39.0% of rebounds, 42.4% of assists and 60.6% of the 3 points from a season. For comparison, the only two Kentucky teams coached by Calipari that netted more minutes and more points (in terms of percentages) than the 2021-22 team is expected to return were the 2011-12 National Championship team and the 2014-15 Final Four team. who started the season 38-0.
Adding the Wildcats’ four transfers to the equation, Kentucky’s current roster for 2021-22 includes 13,385 minutes, 5,203 points, 1,917 rebounds, 1,132 assists and 543 3-point total in the production of college basketball.
For the latest news on the Kentucky Men’s Basketball Team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, and on the web at UKathletics.com.