Kentucky, Gonzaga finalize non-conference matchup
August 3, 2022
The highly anticipated non-conference matchup between John Calipari and Mark Few was finalized on Tuesday afternoon.
After a wakeboarding session in the Pacific Northwest, Few called Calipari to ask about his Kentucky Flood Relief event, which was being held at Rupp Arena. The two coaches then talked about the home-and-home series between Kentucky and Gonzaga.
Calipari then asked Few if he wanted to play. Few said he was fine with it but wanted to be in Spokane. The two coaches then talked about the logistics of the game, which will happen on November 20. The Kentucky coach then asked if Gonzaga would return to Lexington after the game in Spokane.
Few said he was excited to play in Rupp Arena, as it would be his first time there. He also noted that it would be an excellent opportunity for his program.
"We will absolutely come back," Few said. "We've never played in Rupp Arena, and it would be awesome to get my program into Rupp."
Kentucky to visit McCarthey Athletic Center for the first time
The series' first game will be held on November 20 at the McCarthey Athletic Center. In 2023, the two programs will meet in Lexington. During a telethon call on Tuesday, the two coaches could not provide an exact date for the return trip.
The two programs have only met once in their history, at the 2002 NCAA Tournament's Maui Classic. Despite a 24-point performance from Blake Stepp, Kentucky beat the Zags by a final score of 80-72.
The upcoming matchup between Kentucky and the Zags will feature two of the sport's most decorated coaches. It will also be a matchup that will likely be discussed for years. In the ESPN Top 25's early projections, both teams are expected to be in the mix for the national title.
The game will also feature a compelling individual matchup. It will feature Drew Timme, an All-American for the Zags, against Oscar Tshiebwe of the Wildcats. Both players decided to return to college after they bailed out from the NBA Draft. Timme and Tshiebwe are expected to be named early favorites to win the 2022-23 player of the year award.
Aside from the highly-anticipated matchup between Kentucky and the Zags, the game will also feature a couple of interesting storylines. One of these is the recruitment of Nolan Hickman, a Kentucky commit before he decided to sign with the Zags.
Adding Kentucky to the Zags' non-conference schedule has made it one of the most challenging in the program's history. Besides Kentucky, the Zags will face Michigan State, Baylor, Alabama, and Texas in neutral-site games. They will also participate in the Phil Knight Legacy, which features games against Duke, West Virginia, and Xavier.
In the 2022 NBA Draft, the Wildcats and the Zags had two players selected. Chet Holmgren went to Oklahoma City, while Andrew Nembhard was taken by Indiana. Former Wildcat Shaedon Sharpe was chosen by Portland, while TyTy Washington Jr. was traded to Houston.
Calipari is currently ranked 17th in the history of coaching victories, with a total of 768 throughout his career. On the other hand, Mark Few of the Zags is currently at No. 44 with a career win rate of 658.