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Two Non-Conference Games Just Got A Little More Interesting


While the basketball news in Kentucky has been painfully, painfully slow today, other schools have enjoyed the little ping of excitement that comes with tonight’s midnight deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NBA Draft. Two of them are of special interest to Kentucky fans- the reports that Michigan State forward Adriean Payne and Baylor center Isaiah Austin will return to school for another year of collegiate play. Michigan State and Baylor, you may recall, are two of the marquee headlines in Kentucky’s non-conference schedule next season.



The Cats will first face Michigan State on November 12th, in Chicago’s United Center (hey-o!) for the third and final year of the State Farm Champion’s Classic series. Payne averaged 10.5 ppg and 7.6 rpg on MSU’s Sweet 16 team; his return catapults MSU into early talk as a Final Four team. Projected as a late first rounder/early second rounder in the draft, Payne will instead head back to Lansing to join a loaded front court that includes junior forward Branden Dawson as well as talented incoming freshmen Gavin Schilling and Alvin Ellis. Combined with MSU’s experienced guards (Keith Appling, Gary Harris, and Denzel Valentine)- it’s easy to see why CBS Sports tabbed them the number two team in their “Way-Too-Early preseason rankings for 2013-14.”  After Kentucky, of course.


Those rec specs, tho


Baylor, meanwhile, will be the Cats’ opponent in a December double-header featuring both the men’s and women’s teams squaring off in Cowboy Stadium. A rising sophomore, Austin averaged 13.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg, and 1.7 bpg for the NIT Champions (laugh so you don’t cry), and was seen by many as on the cusp of being a lottery pick in this year’s draft. With Austin returning alongside redshirt senior Cory Jefferson, Baylor vaults to the top of the Big 12 along with Oklahoma State and Kansas.  Against Kentucky in the December 1st game in Rupp last season, Austin had 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks; his Kentucky counterparts, Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein had combined efforts of 14 points, 23 rebounds (okay, 16 of those were from Nerlens, but still), and three blocks. The WCS-Austin rematch will be crucial in the outcome of the big game.


Revenge Tour 2013 is shaping up to have some great villains. It’ll just be that much sweeter to beat them.



Article written by Kristen Geil

23 Comments for Two Non-Conference Games Just Got A Little More Interesting

  1. DB11
    5:41 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    We’re going to murder Baylor. Michigan State is going to be tough.

  2. Catlanta
    5:48 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    I think Michigan State will be the hardest game of the year next year, because it’s so early in the season. To me, this is the biggest roadblock to the goal of 40-0

  3. Merlin's
    5:52 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    Goodbye 40-0. We’re going to be playing a much improved UNC team that has battled, a mich st team that is very talented(perhaps the most difficult game next season), a Louisville team that will be very good, but we should handle Baylor, and a Tennessee team that will give us fits. We’ve lost a tad but if our invincibility as of late until we can prove that this new team is deserving of its high praise. A championship is sooo realistic but 40-0 is not

  4. Typical UK Fan
    5:54 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    Although these two players, along with Poythress and Stein, were projected to go higher in the draft than Russ Smith, Pitino is still selfish for him coming back. Makes total sense.

  5. BigBLUE
    5:58 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    Wow. The landscape of college basketball for next season has changed dramatically in the past couple weeks. With several key players deciding to return to already really good teams, I truly think there are going to be 4-5 elite teams next year. I think it will be the strongest college bball has been since 2008-2009ish. WIth Payne returning to MSU and Smith returning to Louisville, here is my top five: (Ill go ahead and assume Wiggins is going to UNC for a worst case scenario)

    1. Michigan State
    2. UNC
    3. Louisville
    4. Kentucky
    5. Arizona

    I also think BBN is being waaaay too optimistic about next year after factoring in these other teams. I think we have as good a chance as anyone, but I am just saying there will be a lot of good teams. I give us #1 if we get Wiggins though

  6. GoCards
    6:07 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    Am I the only one here that thinks the only reason UK fans think they are gonna be soooooo damn good next year is because they are trying to boost their self esteem after falling on their face this year and Louisville winning the championship? The average UK fans expectations for next year are comical. IF UNC lands Wiggins, I would bet on MSU Louisville and UNC over UK all day.

  7. Blue#4
    6:12 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    #6, GoCards

    I bet u a tat that UK will beat UL in Rupp this season.

  8. Old Kentucky redneck
    6:13 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t make no difference who them other teams got.

    Cats is 40-0 and every win by double digits

    The biggest reason is two words: Willie Cauley Stein

  9. cracka
    6:14 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    why did you photoshop girl hands on austin? that’s not nice …

  10. theSkinny81
    6:30 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    6 – Of course you would. Further reiterating why Louisville is the most delusional and least knowledgeable fanbase in America. Now go away. Grown ups are talking.

  11. GoCards
    7:07 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    #10 – Trivia fact for the day: Did you know UK’s 1949 NCAA “National Championship” resulted from losing in the NIT tournament. Your cats lost in the major tournament, and as a result, was placed in the NCAA tournament by default.

  12. Dee W.
    7:39 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    #11 – fun fact of the day: You don’t know what you are talking about. Participating in one tournament had no bearing on participating in another. Teams could be selected to play in both tournament. A number of other teams also lost in the NIT tournament and they were not placed in the NCAA tournament by “default” or otherwise.

  13. This Is It...
    7:44 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    Wow…#6 you Otis fans are so smart …we dumb UK fans didn’t know that NOW ONLY NC AFTER 2013 count…This LITTLE BROTHER…We have won THREE nc since the last time you clowns won one…So what about the self esteem…WE KNOW WE ARE THE #1 BASKETBALL IN AMERICA AND WE DON’T NEED TO GET SOMEONES APPROVAL FOR IT…Later…LITTLE BROTHER..

  14. Mark
    8:04 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    Like #1 said, we will murder Baylor. 40-0 would be nice, but I want the NCAA TITLE back in Lexington Kentucky. GO BIG BLUE!

  15. rj
    8:06 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    6. the only thing smaller than your knowledge of basketball is what you keep in your pants.

  16. Mark
    8:09 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    Some of you fans from other teams seem to be doubting Kentucky. Go ahead. The first three Calipari teams were good. Two of them were great! Last year’s team was not the norm around here, but some of you want to make like it is. Go ahead and doubt this team. You will regret it!!!!! GO BIG BLUE!!!!

  17. rj
    8:14 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    6. and the only thing smaller than that will be your starting guards next year it will be like gary coleman and webster bring the ball up the court.

  18. Joe
    8:21 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    Next year will be awesome for college bball. I wouldn’t trade put team but it will be earned if we can win it all. I think Matt jones and a lot of us fans need to temper expectations a bit. With that said I def think we can win a chip, but it ain’t gonna be easy

  19. blueisblood
    8:54 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t care about 40-0. The The 2014 NCAA chamionship is all that matters.

  20. theSkinny81
    8:59 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    11 – Fun fact: Rick Pitino has taken the Tards to the NIT more times than Calipari at Kentucky.

  21. Bobbum man
    10:11 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    5- are you high? No way mich st #1 even if wiggins does go to UNC we’ll still be the better team, same with UL, keeping Russ is huge and they will be very good but they still lose Siva and Dieng and I think we’ll be better… That being said I think everyone needs to realize how hard 40-0 is I don’t see how everyone is talking about it without playing a game doin nothing but putting more pressure on these guys

  22. Bobbum man
    10:13 pm April 28, 2013 Permalink

    And Payne averaged what like 11 and 6? How would that leap then to #1? Ill take randle over Adrian Payne all day

  23. PK
    2:53 am April 29, 2013 Permalink

    Am i the only one who thinks thats a lighter skinned Willie CS?