Kentucky basketball: Wildcats need games playing Western Kentucky makes sense

Kentucky's Terrence Jones against Derrick Gordon . (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Kentucky's Terrence Jones against Derrick Gordon . (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Kentucky basketball and WKU would be the perfect season finale

The Kentucky basketball team is in need of a few games to play after Tuesday night’s scheduled Southeastern Conference game with Texas A&M was postponed/canceled due to Covid issues within the Aggie program.

All that leaves are the two regular-season finale games against Florida (11-6) on Saturday at 4 pm at Rupp Arena and then at Ole Miss (12-9) on Wednesday at 9 pm.

The SEC Tournament is slated for March 10-14 at Bridgestone Arean in Nashville. This leaves a narrow window of 8 days to either makeup games against South Carolina (5-11) and Texas A&M (8-7) or find an out-of-conference game.

Hello, please look just 2 hours west. There is a team that has been begging you to play them but UK refuses.

Western Kentucky.  Ok, I am biased and went to WKU but what an exciting matchup this would be for both programs.

If the Wildcats have any hope of making the NCAA tournament they need to play as many games as possible. That number currently stands at 21 with their 8-13 record (7-7 in the SEC).

Even if they were to make the SEC Tournament final that would be 3 additional games. By my math, that is just at 27 games. If they fall short of the title game then they have a small body of work.

If the SEC can’t work out a way to make up the SEC games you would have thought John Calipari would be on the phone with Detroit Mercy to find a way to get that game back and have Brad Calipari in Rupp Arena.

While we love Brad this would do nothing for Kentucky nor would be beating South Carolina and Texas A&M except for notches in the win column.

Plus Detroit has completed its regular season and the Horizon League tournament begins this Thursday.  They are just 11-9 so while it would be a win for Kentucky it wouldn’t be much of a wow factor.

There must be some teams that Mitch Barnhart can be searching for out there and this team needs quality W’s.

Just across the state, WKU (15-4, 8-2) was in search of some games and promptly worked a last-second date with No. 12 Houston and shuffled the times for this weekend’s conference games with FIU.

Both teams are looking for NCAA committee eyeballs to take notice and ESPN’s Joe Lunardi currently has Houston a No. 3 seed and the Hilltoppers a No. 12. ESPN even made this the game of the night on ESPN2 and plenty of NBA scouts will be on hand to watch stars of both teams.

Don’t forget that WKU was one of five teams to beat Alabama this season winning 73-71 in Tuscaloosa back in December.

Rick Stansbury is a Kentucky native growing up in Battletown and played for Campbellsville where he is in their Hall of Fame. He has coached in the SEC at Mississippi State and would love nothing more than to step foot on Rupp Arena again. He would play the game in the middle of the night, on the moon, in a cornfield anywhere that Cal wants to lace them up.

Oh and never mind the fact they said all the money that is paid to WKU would go to charity. The Hilltopper athletic department wouldn’t keep any.

Western tossed the offer to Kentucky before the season and again in December with the Detroit game was canceled. To no response to either request.

Stansbury was winless against Calipari coached Kentucky teams in his time while at Mississippi State. He said back before the season started that he knows why UK won’t schedule the Hilltoppers.

"“We would love to play Kentucky. Do I understand why they don’t want to play us? I do. If I’m Kentucky, why take the chance on playing Western Kentucky?”"

WKU ends its regular season at home on Saturday, March 6. They will enter the Conference USA tournament most likely a No. 1 or No. 2 seed and would have a few open days before heading to Frisco, Texas for their tournament that coincides with the SEC one.

It’s an all-win situation for WKU and the Wildcats. Very little travel and no strain on either school to go with some bragging rights.

Kentucky won’t go for it because they don’t want to take a loss to an instate school they should be playing every year anyway.

UK holds a 4-2 advantage over the Toppers with the last meeting in 2012 at the NCAA South Regional of all places Louisville. Prior to that, you have to go back to 2001 when WKU won 64-52 in the NABC game.

Would the state and ESPN not want to feature a plethora of NBA stars from both teams. Charles Bassey will be a lottery pick and Isaiah Jackson‘s stock is rising to go with Brandon Boston and Davion Mintz. There is also Dontaie Allen who was the 2019 Mr. Basketball out of Pendleton County.

Over on the Hilltoppers its Taveion Hollingsworth, a 2017 Kentucky Mr. Basketball out Lexington’s Paul Dunbar that the Wildcats didn’t want.

There are 5 players from Kentucky on the WKU roster including 2020 Mr. Basketball Dayvion McKnight from Shelbyville along with Hollingsworth. That would be three current Kentucky Mr. Basketball winners on the floor at the same time.

Just 12 games separate these teams in the NET Rankings and with WKU playing Houston they are hoping to surpass the Wildcats if possible.

In all-time wins, Kentucky (2,351) is still No. 1 while the Hilltoppers (1,850) are No. 14.

How is this not a good thing? Calipari and Barnhart need to make this happen.