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UK draws national runner-up Texas Tech in Big 12/SEC Challenge on Jan. 25 in Lubbock, Texas

The final piece of the 2019-20 University of Kentucky men’s basketball non-conference schedule came into place Thursday, and it’s a good one.

The Wildcats will visit the 2019 national runners-up, the Texas Tech Red Raiders, on Jan. 25 at United Supermarkets Arena as a part of the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge. The full slate of games was announced Thursday by the respective leagues.

It will mark just the fifth all-time meeting between the two schools and the Wildcats’ second trip to Lubbock, Texas.

UK has won the previous four meetings between the programs, including the 89-73 victory on Dec. 22, 1965 in the lone visit to Lubbock. The schools haven’t met since Kentucky beat Texas Tech 83-68 in Cincinnati on Dec. 17, 1994.

Sophomore guard Ashton Hagans (2) averaged 7.7 points per game last season and is a key returnee for Kentucky in 2019-20. Hagans also dished out 160 assists. (UK photo)

The 2020 slate of Big 12/SEC Challenge games will mark the seventh season of the annual event between the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 and the fifth straight in which all 10 games of the challenge will be played on the same day.

Ten of the SEC’s 14 teams will participate in the 2020 challenge against all 10 of the Big 12’s institutions, with each conference hosting five games apiece. The four SEC teams not participating will play each other in conference games the same day.

All 10 games will be air across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU and will be available on the ESPN app. ESPN’s College GameDay Covered by State Farm – the Saturday roadshow that discusses the top storylines of the college basketball season – will originate from one of the Challenge games. The show has originated from Kentucky’s matchup in each of the last four seasons.

In addition to game times, network designations will be announced at a later date for the challenge.

The Big 12/SEC Challenge has been balanced over the last three seasons. The leagues split the games in 2017, the SEC won it 6-4 in 2018 and the Big 12 edged the SEC 6-4 last season.

The SEC, of course, has been one of the best conferences in the country over the last two seasons. After a league-high eight programs made the NCAA Tournament in 2018, another seven earned a berth in 2019. The SEC advanced two teams to the Elite Eight, one to the Final Four and posted a 12-7 record in NCAA Tournament play last season.

Texas Tech is coming off a historic season. In addition to advancing to the Final Four and national championship game for the first time in school history, the Red Raiders helped end Kansas’ streak of 14 straight Big 12 regular-season championships with a suffocating defense that ranked second in the country in field-goal percentage defense (.370) and third in points allowed (59.5 per game).

Texas Tech will be without key pieces from its 2019 Final Four run, including sixth overall NBA Draft pick Jarrett Culver, but the Red Raiders feature one of the top coaches in the country in Chris Beard, who has led Texas Tech to back-to-back Elite Eight appearances.

The addition of Texas Tech completes the 2019-20 non-conference schedule for the Wildcats. UK announced five additional games Tuesday, adding Utah Valley (Nov. 18), Mount St. Mary (Nov. 22), Lamar (Nov. 24), UAB (Nov. 29) – all four of which will be a part of the BBN Showcase – and Georgia Tech (Dec. 14). All five of those games will be in Rupp Arena.

Already announced for the 2019-20 non-conference slate is a matchup vs. Michigan State on Nov. 5 in the State Farm Champions Classic in New York, a two-game trip in Las Vegas with games against Utah (Dec. 18) and Ohio State (Dec. 21 as a part of the CBS Sports Classic), and the annual rivalry vs. Louisville on Dec. 28 in Rupp Arena. Both Michigan State and Louisville are expected to be preseason top-10 teams.

With the addition of Texas Tech, seven of UK’s 13 non-conference opponents in the upcoming season made a postseason tournament in 2019, five of which made the NCAA Tournament.

Six teams finished the 2018-19 season with an NCAA Evaluation Tool ranking in the top 100 and four ended the season receiving votes in one of the two major polls. All told, Kentucky’s current 2019-20 non-conference opponents combined for a record of 253-188 in 2018-19, a .574 winning percentage.

Kentucky will meet that schedule head on with what looks to be a solid blend of talent and experience. The Wildcats welcome back sophomore guards Ashton Hagans (7.7 points per game and 160 total assists in 2018-19) and Immanuel Quickley (30 3-pointers), junior forward Nick Richards (74 career games), and sophomore EJ Montgomery (3.8 points, 4.1 rebounds in 2018-19).

From University of Kentucky

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