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UK men’s basketball conference opponents announced for 2021-22

UK will play Alabama, Florida, LSU, Tennessee and Vanderbilt home and away
(Photo: UK Athletics)
(Photo: UK Athletics)(WYMT)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 2:20 PM EDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The roadmap for an unprecedented 50th Southeastern Conference regular-season championship has officially taken shape with the announcement of the 2021-22 home-and-away designations for the entire league’s schedule. On Monday, the SEC announced assignments for all 14-member institutions, including revealing the home-and-away opponents for each team.

As announced prior to the 2015-16 season, Kentucky’s permanent home-and-away opponents include Florida, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. This upcoming season, the Wildcats will also play Alabama and LSU twice in the regular season.

Kentucky’s league home schedule will include the five aforementioned teams as well as Georgia, Mississippi State, Missouri and Ole Miss. UK’s road matchups will come against Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina and Texas A&M in addition to Alabama and LSU and the three permanent home-and-home opponents.

Times, dates and television information will be announced at a later date.

The SEC has had 21 NCAA Tournament selections over the last three tournaments. One team has advanced to the Elite Eight in nine of the last 11 tournaments and every team has made at least one NCAA Tournament appearance in the last six seasons.

UK’s home-and-home slate features five intriguing matchups. The Wildcats will matchup with Alabama for a home-and-home series for the second straight season. The Crimson Tide are the reigning champions of both the regular season and tournament crowns and won both meetings a season ago against Kentucky. The Wildcats are 114-40 all-time against the Tide.

Kentucky earned an 82-69 win over LSU in the teams’ lone matchup in 2020-21. It will mark the first time since 2015-16 that the two teams will play twice in a season.

The Wildcats own a 10-game winning streak over Vanderbilt, but it hasn’t been easy for the Cats. UK has had to overcome double-digit deficits in five of those victories. The Wildcats needed to rally from nine back for a 77-74 win at home last season.

Kentucky has played Tennessee more than any other program in the country and owns a 157-75 all-time series record. The visiting teams claimed wins in the two matchups a season ago for the second straight year.

Kentucky will also play Florida twice again next season after splitting against the Gators last year. Florida was 15-10 in 2020-21 but earned an NCAA Tournament berth. UK leads the all-time series by a 105-41 mark.

Further enhancing the competitiveness of the league, 22 of ESPN.com’s Top 100 recruits having signed with SEC schools for the 2021-22 class. The SEC boasts five of ESPN.com’s Top 25 incoming recruiting classes.

In addition to a difficult path through the SEC, UK’s nonconference schedule is filled with bluebloods, marquee home games and exciting road trips for fans.

Season ticket renewals will begin in early August, and all returning season ticket holders from the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons will receive information by email when the renewal campaign begins. Fans interested in purchasing new season tickets are encouraged to sign up online for the men’s basketball season ticket lottery.

The Wildcats currently have dates now set with five opponents for the upcoming season.

· Duke – Nov. 9 | Madison Square Garden (New York) | Champions Classic

· at Michigan – Dec. 4 | Ann Arbor, Mich. | Crisler Center

· Notre Dame – Dec. 11 | TBA

· Ohio State – Dec. 18 | T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas) | CBS Sports Classic

· at Kansas – Jan. 29 | Lawrence, Kan. | Allen Fieldhouse

Kentucky will take on a challenging schedule with a solid blend of talent and experience.

The Wildcats welcome back sixth-year graduate student Davion Mintz (11.5 points per game and 56 3-pointers), junior forwards Keion Brooks Jr. (10.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in 2020-21) and Jacob Toppin (5.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game), sophomore guard Dontaie Allen (31 3-pointers and 5.4 points per game), and sophomore forward Lance Ware (2.0 points, 3.0 rebounds in 2018-19).

UK will also gain additional experience with four transfers in forward Oscar Tshiebwe and guards CJ Fredrick, Kellan Grady and Sahvir Wheeler. Combined the four have appeared in 266 collegiate games. Tshiebwe spent the spring semester with the Wildcats and is a former All-Big 12 performer from West Virginia who has 12 career double-doubles. Fredrick, from Iowa, is an All-Big Ten performer who owns a career 46.6% percentage from long range. Grady is a four-time All-Atlantic 10 player who suited up for Davidson and has more than 2,000 career points and a career average of 17.4 points per game. Wheeler is an All-SEC player who led the league in assists per game (7.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7) at Georgia as a sophomore.

The Wildcats will add three consensus four- or five-star prospects in Daimion Collins, Bryce Hopkins and TyTy Washington. Collins is ranked as high as the No. 10 overall player in the class and averaged 35.2 points, 14.4 rebounds. 7.0 assists and 6.2 blocks per game and was named the Texas Gatorade Player of the Year. Hopkins averaged 24.4 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per game as a senior and is a top-25 prospect. He was the MaxPreps Illinois High School Player of the Year. Washington averaged 24.0 points, 7.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game this past season to lead Compass Prep to a 30-2 record. He connected on 48% of his shots and 41% from 3-point range and is ranked as high as the No. 12 overall player in the class.

UK’s 2021-22 roster currently features a sixth-year graduate, a fifth-year graduate, a redshirt junior, six juniors, a redshirt sophomore, two sophomores and three freshmen.

Production wise, it will also be among the most prolific returning teams of the Calipari era. Kentucky will return 42.1% of its minutes, 41.9% of its scoring, 39.0% of the rebounds, 42.4% of the assists and 60.6% of the 3-pointers from a season ago. For comparison, the only two Calipari-coached Kentucky teams that returned more minutes and more points (in terms of percentages) than the 2021-22 team is slated to return were the 2011-12 national championship squad and the 2014-15 Final Four team that started the season 38-0.

Adding the Wildcats’ four transfers to the equation, Kentucky’s current 2021-22 roster includes 13,385 minutes, 5,203 points, 1,917 rebounds, 1,132 assists and 543 total 3-pointers in college basketball production.

For the latest on the Kentucky men’s basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on TwitterFacebookInstagram and TikTok, and on the web at UKathletics.com.