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Big 12/SEC Challenge Matchups Set For 2015-16 Basketball Campaign; Cats To Face Jayhawks

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The third annual Big 12/SEC Challenge Presented by Sonic will feature 10 games played on Jan. 30, 2016, in a matchup of two college basketball conferences.

All 10 of the Big 12’s teams and 10 of the SEC’s 14 member institutions will participate in this season’s event. Each of the 10 SEC teams participating in the 2016 Challenge will also play in the 2017 event.

One of the matchups is the Kentucky-Kansas game in Lawrence, Kan. The 2016 meeting, featuring the two winningest schools in NCAA Division I history, will mark UK's first trip to Allen Fieldhouse since 2006 and just its second since the 1989-90 season.

Kentucky and Kansas have met three times over the last four seasons, with Kentucky winning all three matchups. The Wildcats beat the Jayhawks twice during the 2011-12 season, including a 67-59 victory in the 2012 national championship game. UK rolled Kansas 72-40 in this past season's Champions Classic matchup in Indianapolis.

Both teams, not surprisingly, are expected to be among the nation's best teams when they meet during the 2015-16 season. UK welcomes back Alex Poythress, Tyler Ulis and Marcus Lee to join another highly touted recruiting class. The Jayhawks will return the core of their 2015 Big 12 championship team. Both teams are among the top 10 in various early preseason national rankings.

UK's meeting with Kansas adds to what was already a super slate of nonconference games for next season. Kentucky is slated to play Duke in Chicago in the Champions Classic, South Florida in Miami in the inaugural Hoophall Miami Invitational, at UCLA in the first game of a home-and-home series, Ohio State in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the CBS Sports Classic, and Louisville in Rupp Arena.

Speaking of the Big 12/SEC Challenge teams for 2016, 14 of them have earned postseason berths in 2015 and nine of the 10 games will feature at least one team that participated in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

The first two years of the Challenge were played over several days in November and December but the 2016 event will be consolidated to one single day in January. A bye in the league schedule for participating teams was created to accommodate the new format. The four SEC teams not participating will play each other in conference games the same day.

Eight of the 10 games will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2 and two games will air on ESPNU. All 10 games will also be available via WatchESPN. ESPN’s College GameDay Covered by State Farm – the Saturday morning and evening roadshow that discusses the top storylines of the college basketball season – will originate from one of the Challenge games, to be announced at a later date.

“The ability to showcase SEC basketball in this kind of inter-conference competition makes this a unique and exciting event for our coaches, student-athletes and fans,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said.

Start times and network designations will be announced at a later date.

2016 Big 12/SEC Challenge Presented by Sonic (January 30, 2016):

Texas Tech at Arkansas

Oklahoma State at Auburn

West Virginia at Florida

Georgia at Baylor

Kentucky at Kansas

Oklahoma at LSU

Ole Miss at Kansas State

Tennessee at TCU

Iowa State at Texas A&M

Vanderbilt at Texas

Pictured is Kansas Coach Bill Self during 2014 NCAA Tournament. His Jayhawks will host UK in 2016. Photo by Jamie H. Vaught

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