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Finger injury sidelines UK forward Willis, will not participate in NBA open practice combine

Derek Willis is expected to return in time for UK’s Blue-White Scrimmage on Oct. 27 (UK Athletics Photo),/small>

Derek Willis is expected to return in time for UK’s Blue-White Scrimmage on Oct. 27 (UK Athletics Photo)


Kentucky men’s basketball junior forward Derek Willis will miss the next two weeks after suffering a finger injury on his left hand in Saturday’s practice. Willis is expected to return in time for UK’s Blue-White Scrimmage on Oct. 27.

“I’m happy that it’s not something that will keep Derek out very long, but I’m disappointed because I really wanted him to participate in tomorrow’s open practice,” head coach John Calipari said. “It’s nothing serious and he will be back in a couple weeks, but I’m disappointed for him because he had been doing so well. He deserved to show his stuff tomorrow. He’s made great strides and will bounce back from this.”

Willis has appeared in 33 games in his career, including 19 in 2014-15, his sophomore season. The Mt. Washington, Ky., native scored in seven of his first eight appearances and logged time in three of UK’s five NCAA Tournament games in 2015.

Willis, a 6-foot-9 forward, is expected to add key depth this season to a front line that lost Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles and Dakari Johnson to the NBA Draft.

UK lost junior guard Dominique Hawkins earlier in the week with a broken right hand. He underwent successful surgery Tuesday and is expected back in approximately four weeks.

Kentucky-Duke tickets on sale Monday


Tickets for the 2015 State Farm Champions Classic will go on sale Monday, Oct. 12, at noon. The fifth annual neutral-site men’s doubleheader – to be played Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the United Center in Chicago – features preseason-ranked No. 3 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Duke at 7:30 p.m., followed by No. 5 Kansas vs. No. 19 Michigan State at 10 p.m., as the culminating event of the College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.

Duke is the defending NCAA champion, while Michigan State and Kentucky also reached the Final Four last season. Kansas reached the third round of the tournament. Since the State Farm Champions Classic began in 2011, all four teams have made at least one Final Four appearance, and two have won national titles (Kentucky in 2011-12, Duke in 2014-15).

Ticket prices range from $50 to $200 and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com, by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or by visiting the United Center box office (open Mon.-Fri. from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sat. from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; hours may vary on event days).

The State Farm Champions Classic features:

· Three of the top four all-time winningest men’s college basketball programs: Kentucky (first), Kansas (second) and Duke (fourth).

· A combined 18 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championships (since 1939): Kentucky (eight), Duke (five), Kansas (three) and Michigan State (two).

· A total of 27 NCAA Final Four appearances in the past 23 years: Duke (eight), Michigan State (seven), Kansas (six) and Kentucky (six).

From UK Athletics

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