Huge Weekend Ahead for UK Athletics
University of Kentucky fans will have no shortage of options when it comes to watching their Wildcats this weekend. In fact, the next three days should provide plenty of excitement for Big Blue fans, on the court, the field and the diamond.
To kick things off, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray proclaimed March 25-27 as Blue-White Weekend, encouraging all Kentucky fans to wear blue and white over the next three days to support the respective Wildcats’ teams.
So, what’s so significant about this particular weekend?
The event drawing a large portion of the attention is the Kentucky women’s basketball team’s NCAA regional semifinal matchup against Washington on Friday. That game is slated to tipoff at 7 p.m. ET at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell and his team won their first two NCAA Tournament games without leaving the city of Lexington. Playing in the familiar surroundings of Memorial Coliseum, the Wildcats topped UNC Asheville 85-31 in the first round on Saturday before beating Oklahoma 79-58 on Monday night.
Now, Mitchell and his team move from their on-campus facility to the city’s downtown arena, as they continue on their quest to earn the program’s first Final Four appearance. Mitchell hopes playing in front of the home crowd will help his team.
“If we play well, it will be a lot more fun for everybody," Mitchell said. "Could we have some added juice in the building because it's us? Of course."
Senior guard Janee Thompson knows the Big Blue Nation will make the trip to Rupp Arena to support their Wildcats.
“I think it will be electric,” Thompson says of what she hopes Friday’s atmosphere in Rupp Arena will be. “It's always fun when we come here. We've been here a few times this year and the fans really come out and support us. We've got the best fans in the country. It will be exciting when we finally get out there and we make some plays and get the crowd going.”
With a win on Friday night, Kentucky would advance to Sunday’s regional final, where they would meet the winner of Friday’s second game, featuring top-seeded Notre Dame and fourth-seeded Stanford. Sunday’s game is slated for a 1 p.m. ET tip.
If Big Blue fans are wanting to see great college baseball, that will also be an option this weekend. Kentucky hosts a three-game SEC set against the No. 1 Florida Gators beginning on Friday night at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Head coach Gary Henderson and his team have won three of their last four, including taking two of three at Georgia last weekend to open SEC play.
“Any time you face someone who’s 22-1 and undefeated in the conference, it’s a good test for your club,” Henderson said. “We certainly have a good challenge in front of us.”
The series will continue with a 2 p.m. ET first pitch on Saturday, followed by a 1 p.m. ET start for Sunday’s series finale.
As if that weren’t enough to whet the appetite of the biggest Kentucky fans, it was announced on Thursday that the Kentucky football team will hold an open practice on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. ET at Commonwealth Stadium.
Fans may park for free in the Green Lot near Commonwealth Stadium and enter through gates 1 and 2. Gates will open at 10 a.m. ET.
Head coach Mark Stoops and his team have just resumed spring practice after the school’s spring break. Saturday’s open practice will be a chance for fans to see some of the changes that have taken place with the in the offseason. Specifically, the new Kentucky offense, under the direction of coordinators Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw, will draw plenty of attention.
There’s also UK tennis at home this weekend. The UK men’s tennis team hosts South Carolina on Friday at 3 p.m., while the women welcome Tennessee on Saturday at noon.
UK Athletics Weekend Schedule
3 p.m. Men’s tennis vs. South Carolina, Boone Tennis Center
7 p.m. Women’s basketball vs. Washington, Rupp Arena
6:30 p.m. Baseball vs. Florida, Cliff Hagan Stadium
10:30 a.m. Football open practice, Commonwealth Stadium
12 p.m. Women’s tennis vs. Tennessee, Boone Tennis Center
2 p.m. Baseball vs. Florida, Cliff Hagan Stadium
1 p.m. Women’s basketball vs. Notre Dame/Stanford winner*
1 p.m. Baseball vs. Florida
*If Kentucky beats Washington on Friday