2020-21 season begins next week in Rupp Arena with the Bluegrass Showcase
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Tip times and television information have started to pour in for a chunk of the previously announced 2020-21 Kentucky men’s basketball nonconference schedule.
Beginning with the season-opening Bluegrass Showcase, five of UK’s nonconference games have been set with tip times and television designations.
All three of the Wildcats’ Bluegrass Showcase games at Rupp Arena will be nationally televised. UK will open the season Nov. 25 vs. Morehead State at 6 p.m. on SEC Network. On that Friday, Nov. 27, the Wildcats will again be on SEC Network at 6 p.m. as they take on Brad Calipari – John Calipari’s son – and Detroit Mercy at 6 p.m. Kentucky will wrap up the Bluegrass Showcase on Nov. 29 at 1 p.m. on ESPN vs. the Richmond Spiders, who picked up votes in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 and were picked to win the Atlantic 10.
The Bluegrass Showcase, a multi-team event hosted by the Gazelle Group, will feature two games a day. Each non-UK game will tip one hour following the conclusion of the Kentucky game on the day of action. Richmond-Detroit Mercy will be Nov. 25, Richmond-Morehead State will be Nov. 27 and Detroit Mercy-Morehead State will take place Nov. 29. Those games have not been designated for a telecast at this time.
Also confirmed Wednesday, Kentucky’s game vs. Notre Dame on Dec. 12 will air at noon on CBS. UK’s Dec. 19 matchup vs. UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland was previously announced as a 4:15 p.m. tipoff on CBS.
Other confirmed nationally televised games already announced include the Dec. 1 showdown with Kansas in the Champions Classic. That game will be on ESPN at a site and time to be determined. UK’s SEC/Big 12 Challenge matchup vs. Texas at Rupp Arena on Jan. 30 will be on one of ESPN’s family of networks. A tip time has not been set.
Tip times and television designations for the rest of the schedule will be announced later
Adhering to the NCAA Division I Council’s framework for scheduling, UK will play in 24 regular-season games with one three-game multi-team event, resulting in 27 total games before postseason play. The Wildcats will play nine nonconference opponents to go along with 18 Southeastern Conference matchups. SEC play begins Dec. 29.
The league has built-in make-up dates scheduled for March 5-7 in case games are postponed due to COVID-19 safety protocols.
No exhibition games or closed scrimmages will be allowed before Nov. 25, per the NCAA Division I Council, but SEC Network will televise a virtual-only Big Blue Madness this Friday at 9 p.m.
Rupp Arena will have a reduced capacity/distanced seating plan to host fans in the healthiest manner possible for the 2020-21 season based on the recommendations from state health officials. Anticipated attendance for the season will be up to 15% of normal arena capacity. All plans are subject to change based on evolving information as well as local, state and national public health developments.
The UK Ticket Office and K Fund are communicating directly with season ticket holders on the 2020-21 ticketing process, which continues this week. Tickets will be sold in season packages and K Fund priority rankings will determine the order for ticket assignment. Ticket holders are encouraged to regularly monitor their email for additional updates leading up to the home opener.
Available tickets will be physically distanced throughout Rupp Arena and will be primarily sold in small blocks of two, three and four seats to maximize attendance opportunities for a greater number of season ticket accounts. All seating will be reserved, and ticket holders will be required to sit in their assigned seats. UK Athletics hopes to accommodate as many ticket accounts as possible, though there is no guarantee that every season ticket holder will be able to purchase tickets due to the limited capacity.
With arena capacity limited to 15%, there will be approximately 300 tickets that students will have access to purchase on a single-game basis, for select games. Ticket allotments may vary for games that are played during holiday or semester breaks. A single-game lottery process will be implemented to provide opportunities for as many students as possible to attend games. Games will be grouped into multiple lotteries throughout the season, and there will be a random draw for each game to determine the students that will receive tickets through their My UK Athletics Student Account. More information on student ticketing can be found here.
More information on UK’s ticket and game-day operations changes for the 2020-21 season can be found here.
Kentucky is preparing to embark on the 2020-21 season with one of the most inexperienced rosters of the John Calipari era. UK will be tasked with replacing 94% of its scoring from last season – most of the Calipari era – 92.4% of its minutes, 84.4% of its rebounds, 98.6% of its assists and 91.5% of its blocks.
The Wildcats said farewell to eight of their top nine scorers from a season ago, including all five starters. The lone major returning contributor from last season will be sophomore forward Keion Brooks Jr., who averaged 4.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in 31 appearances, including six starts.
Calipari and his staff have prepared for the losses – which included five underclassmen declaring for the NBA Draft – with the nation’s consensus No. 1 recruiting class and three key transfers.
UK’s seven-man freshman class features six consensus five- and four-star prospects, including top-10 signees Brandon Boston Jr. and Terrence Clarke. The Wildcats also signed Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr, Creighton graduate transfer Davion Mintz and Rhode Island transfer Jacob Toppin. Sarr and Toppin were ruled immediately eligible last month.