LEXINGTON, Ky. — John Calipari would like to formally invite Kentucky basketball fans to spend the week before Christmas 2019 in Las Vegas watching the Wildcats. Or so it seems, given the scheduling announcement Thursday.
Kentucky will play Utah in Las Vegas on Dec. 18, 2019, at T-Mobile Arena. That will be followed by a game three days later against Ohio State, on Dec. 21, 2019, in the same building as part of the annual CBS Sports Classic. The Cats played a thriller there against North Carolina in 2016.
In addition to the extended stay in Sin City, Kentucky made official the other piece of its two-game agreement with Utah: The Utes will play at Rupp Arena this season on Dec. 15.
“We are always trying to put together a schedule that our fans will enjoy while preparing us to be at our best at the end of the season,” coach John Calipari said in a school-issued news release. “One of the things I hear most about from our fans is they enjoy traveling with us and staying at a destination location for multiple games. That was our goal in scheduling this game with Utah.
“It gives us a great opponent for one of our favorite stops over the last few years. I still get people who come up to me and tell me about how much fun they had in 2016 when we played North Carolina.”
The Wildcats are 9-2 all-time against Utah, a frequent postseason foe. Kentucky has won the last six meetings — five in the NCAA Tournament, including 1996, 1997 and 1998, when they met in the national championship game, and most recently in 2005.
With the extended Las Vegas trip, Big Blue Nation will have opportunities for basketball-centric vacations in each of the next two seasons. This year, Aug. 8-12, the Wildcats will give fans a sneak peek at a highly anticipated team with four exhibition games in the Bahamas.
The 2018-19 nonconference schedule also includes Duke, North Carolina, Louisville and Seton Hall — with a marquee matchup in the Big 12/SEC Challenge to be announced.