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Western Kentucky head coach Rick Stansbury gives direction from the sideline against visiting Centre College in the Hilltoppers 90-52 home victory at E.A. Diddle Arena Tuesday Dec. 14 in Bowling Green.

The Western Kentucky men’s basketball team will face in-state foe Kentucky on Wednesday in a newly scheduled game.

The Hilltoppers (8-4) will play their first regular-season game against the Wildcats since 2001 at 5 p.m. CT Wednesday at Rupp Arena. The game will air on ESPN.

“We want to extend our appreciation to Coach Calipari and Kentucky for their willingness to play this game,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said in a news release. “This is a great opportunity to raise awareness about what our state is going through right now and continue to build support for those in western Kentucky affected by the recent tornadoes, including the people of Bowling Green. I know Cal and Kentucky didn’t have to do this, but it speaks volumes about their willingness to help the state of Kentucky.”

WKU’s previously scheduled road trip to Austin Peay has been mutually agreed to move back to the 2022-23 season. Kentucky’s previously scheduled home game against Louisville was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Cardinals’ program.

“Here’s the thing we had to get to – there were two things. We have a sold-out arena. We had to get someone in there that – you know what I was trying to do – how could we get an opponent in there?” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said on his radio show where the matchup was announced. “The other part was western Kentucky – we have to honor, we have to respect, we have to bring light to, and that’s why we got a call and Western Kentucky said, ‘Let’s do this.’ You know that tornado went through Bowling Green, too, so you had damage there.”

UK athletics is working on a charitable component from the game that will provide support for those who were affected by the Dec. 11 tornadoes.

“We really appreciate the cooperation from Mitch Barnhart and Coach Calipari in working with us so quickly in scheduling this game,” WKU director of athletics Todd Stewart said in a news release. “I know our fans will be excited about playing Kentucky, and our program always looks for challenging opportunities on a national stage. Most importantly, playing this game will result in providing relief to those who have been impacted the most from the devastating tornadoes in our region.”

The Hilltoppers are 2-4 all-time against Kentucky, with the last meeting coming in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The top-ranked Wildcats won that game 81-66 and went on to win the national championship.

The last meeting before that was on Nov. 15, 2001, when WKU upset fourth-ranked Kentucky 64-52 in Rupp Arena.

The teams have only played three times ever in the regular season in 2001, 1992 and 1990.

WKU is 11-8 against Power Five opponents over the last five years, including two such victories in the last nine days.

The Hilltoppers routed Ole Miss 71-48 in Atlanta at the Holiday Hoopsgiving on Dec. 11, then beat Louisville 82-72 in Diddle Arena on Saturday.

WKU is also 4-1 against the SEC in the last four years, with a victory over an SEC foe each of the last four seasons.

Stansbury – a longtime former head coach at Mississippi State – is 144-117 in his career against the SEC, including a 4-13 record against Kentucky.{&end}