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Kentucky to host Western Kentucky to benefit tornado relief efforts

The top two teams in the Bluegrass state will face off at Rupp Arena.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 01 Tennessee State at Western Kentucky Photo by Steve Roberts/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats will host the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Wednesday. CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander was the first to break the news.

John Calipari confirmed the news during his call-in radio show Monday evening. The in-state battle will take place at 6 pm ET on ESPN.

“We were all disappointed to learn we won’t be able to play Louisville on Wednesday, but I am thrilled we were able to come together quickly and put this game together for everyone in this state,” Calipari said in a press release. “I want to thank Western Kentucky for working with us on short notice. Not only will this be a great test for our team, but we will be able to provide aid to the Western Kentucky region and lift the spirits of some special people who really need it.”

Tickets and parking permits for the original Wednesday game vs. Louisville will now be valid for the replacement game. Ticket holders do not need to take further action.

After the previously-scheduled game vs. the Louisville Cardinals was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within their program, Kentucky was left will little time to find a replacement this week.

Thankfully, Calipari was able to schedule WKU. This will be the first matchup between the two programs since the 2012 NCAA South Regional Second Round game in Louisville. Kentucky won that game 81-66 en route to its eighth national championship.

Most importantly, this game is being played to help assist the relief efforts as a result of the tornados and the severe weather system that rampaged through Western Kentucky on December 11th. Go here for more details on helping the relief efforts.

“We have now dealt with COVID-related issues the last two scheduled games. I am very appreciative of the University of North Carolina and Western Kentucky University for working with us quickly to complete our schedule,” said Mitch Barnhart in a press release. “I know our fans were looking forward to the game with our intrastate rival. In lieu of that game, Western Kentucky and the University of Kentucky will come together to provide some relief for our state as we work through the tragedy of the last couple of weeks in Western Kentucky.”

Ironically, WKU is coming off a convincing 82-72 home win over Louisville.

The Wildcats are 4-2 vs. WKU with the Hilltoppers’ last win coming at Rupp Arena in 2001.

The Kentucky United Toy Drive, which was originally scheduled for the Louisville game, is still scheduled for Wednesday’s game. New, unwrapped toys in original packaging or $25 VISA or Mastercard gift cards will be collected and donated to families in Western Kentucky in need following the tragic tornadoes last week. The UK Police Department is working with UK Athletics on collection and distribution of the donated items. UK will accept donations at all entrances of Rupp Arena during the game.

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