|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET12:00 PM GMT8:00 PM 北京时间5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST, Dec 7, 2021
Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center, Lexington, Kentucky Attendance: 18,947
No. 9 Kentucky welcomes Southern to open Unity Series
Kentucky coach John Calipari has pledged to bring historically black colleges to Lexington. The first installment of the Unity Series is Tuesday when Southern visits the No. 9 Wildcats.
Kentucky will play schools from the Southwestern Athletic Conference in five straight seasons and Southern was a logical school to start it off as Jaguars coach Sean Woods is a former Wildcats star and a member of the school's athletic Hall of Fame.
The bigger deal in the eyes of Calipari is raising the awareness of HBCUs as well as providing funds for students at the schools.
"I am really proud of our leadership for identifying an opportunity to take what we do on the basketball court and leverage it into an annual week-long event that will have a major impact on HBCUs and their students," Calipari said. "My hope is this event not only opens the door for opportunities for students at HBCUs, but that others at our school and across the country will take advantage of the educational opportunities that we will put together to continue the meaningful conversations and changes that have taken place over the last year."
Calipari said he will be eager to see the impact five years from now. Woods already feels it just for the fact that his players get the chance to play at Rupp Arena.
"Cal is a wizard," Woods told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "I admire John Calipari for just being him. He's always thinking outside the box, and I think that's what separates him from a lot of guys."
Woods will forever have a place in Kentucky lore as he appeared to make a historically big shot when he banked in a floater in the lane to give Kentucky a 103-102 lead over Duke with 2.1 seconds left in overtime of the Elite Eight in the 1992 NCAA Tournament.
But the tag of hero didn't last long as Grant Hill delivered the stellar baseball pass and Christian Laettner knocked down the famous turnaround jumper at the buzzer to give the Blue Devils a 104-103 win in a game considered as one of the best in college basketball history.
Few remember that Woods recorded 21 points, nine assists and three steals in the game.
"You have memories. It's more daydreaming than night-dreaming," Woods told the Lexington newspaper. "Anything can spark it. Watching a game. Watching Duke play. I can be watching the 'Cats and think of something."
Now Woods will hope his Jaguars (3-5) can be competitive against the Wildcats. Southern was routed 79-62 at Akron on Saturday and also has losses against Louisville (12 points) and Nebraska (23) on the ledger.
Kentucky (6-1) has reeled off six straight victories since a season-opening 79-71 loss to Duke in the Champions Classic at New York.
The Wildcats have since played a light slate and the six wins are by an average of 28.3 points. The most recent victory was 85-57 over visiting Central Michigan on Nov. 29.
Despite the winning streak, Calipari says there is significant room for improvement.
"The Southern game is going to be a great test because they play hard, they play dribble-drive, they're going to try and beat us on the bounce," Calipari said. "What we have to get better at: how we finish a game. I took guys out the last game. 'Oh, you're going to mess around the last five, six minutes? Then you won't be in.' This is about us playing against ourselves."
The Wildcats have played Southern once, posting a 99-84 victory in the first round of the 1988 NCAA Tournament. The NCAA later ordered Kentucky to vacate the win due to sanctions against the program.
--Field Level Media
Updated December 5, 2021