The (Thurs)day in UK sports

Due to being away most of today, here’s a recap of what’s happened Thursday:

  • The matchups for the Big East/SEC Challenge were announced, and UK will be kicking it off (as well as the month) against St. John’s in Rupp Arena on Dec. 1. They finished 12-6 in the Big East and earned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament before losing in the second round, but it was a surprisingly good year under Steve Lavin. Next year, St. John’s is losing its top 5 scorers in Dwight Hardy (18.3 ppg), Justin Brownlee (12.3 ppg), D.J. Kennedy (10.4 ppg), Paris Horne (7.9 ppg) and  Justin Burrell (6.3 ppg) but are adding 9 freshmen. The group overall is ranked No. 3 in the nation by, although no single player is ranked in the top 20.
  • My Question of the Day on Twitter: Glad the matchup is with St. John’s, or wish it was against one of the more elite Big East teams?
  • “I’m excited about playing in the Big East/SEC Challenge,” UK head coach John Calipari said in a release. “The exposure of SEC basketball prior to conference play is important to our league and the opportunity to face St. John’s in Rupp Arena with their great tradition is unique. They have been recharged by a terrific coach in Steve Lavin and we look forward to the challenge.”
  • An interesting note: The UK-North Carolina game is typically the first Saturday in December, which would be Dec. 3 this upcoming year — two days after the St. John’s game. No official word on if that will be the date, or whether it might get changed to space it out, but considering its one of the premier games for CBS it’s difficult to see it being moved.
  • The other matchups: Vanderbilt at Louisville (on Dec. 2, if you’re looking to catch both), Florida at Syracuse, Georgetown at Alabama, and Ole Miss at DePaul to really get college basketball rolling. Still, outside of Vandy-Louisville and Florida-Syracuse, there aren’t really that many matchups that look GREAT, at least not now, including UK-St. John’s. Pittsburgh got matched with Tennessee, and Connecticut got Arkansas. But it should be a good slate of games overall.
  • The NBA Combine featured Brandon Knight, DeAndre Liggins and Enes Kanter. Knight sees himself as a point guard and DeAndre Liggins said the incoming “loaded” freshmen class made him doubt whether he would get the chance to improve his offensive game enough for his stock to rise next year. (I’ll link to both when they’re up.)
  • Eloy Vargas, participating in the Sports Reach program in China, posted 12 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks and 2 steals in his first game.
  • If you’re interested in the full slate of Big East/SEC games, here it is:
  • Thursday, Dec. 1

    Georgetown @ Alabama

    Providence @ South Carolina

    St. John’s @ Kentucky

    Mississippi @ DePaul 

    Friday, Dec. 2

    Auburn @ Seton Hall

    Florida @ Syracuse

    Cincinnati @ Georgia

    Vanderbilt @ Louisville

    Saturday, Dec. 3

    Arkansas @ Connecticut

    West Virginia @ Mississippi State

    LSU @ Rutgers

    Pittsburgh @ Tennessee