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Series renewed: Kentucky, Notre Dame agree to resume rivalry

Kentucky has renewed its rivalry with Notre Dame.

The two storied programs agreed to a three-year contract beginning on Dec. 12 when the Wildcats host the Irish at Rupp Arena. The two teams will play a neutral site contest in 2021, with the Wildcats traveling to South Bend to conclude the series in 2022.

The two teams played each other in 2015, with the Wildcats edging Notre Dame 68-66 in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

“If our previous games are any indication, this is going to be a great series,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “I can remember playing Notre Dame in 2010 in Freedom Hall and Ben Hansbrough going crazy in the first half and Terrence Jones willing us to victory in the second half.

“We went to South Bend a couple years later and that place was nuts. The football team was there and they thumped us. And then the game in 2015 in the Elite Eight was one of the best all-around games I’ve been a part of. Elite play from both teams.

“I’ve got a feeling these three games are going to provide some similar battles. Mike Brey is a terrific coach who always builds teams that are going to fight and give you everything they’ve got. I really like how our non-conference schedule is coming together for the next few seasons.”

Brey agreed with Calipari and is anticipating an exciting three-game series between the two programs.

“It is great to renew a series between two of the ‘blue bloods’ of college basketball,” Brey said. “If our recent battles with Kentucky are any indication, these games should be appointment viewing for college basketball fans.”

The two teams have played several home-and-home series during the past 80 years and the Wildcats own a 43-19 edge in the rivalry. The Irish have played just eight times in Lexington, with Kentucky winning all eight contests. The Wildcats are 10-6 in games played at South Bend.

Kentucky was originally scheduled to play Michigan in the Basketball Hall of Fame London Showcase in the United Kingdom, but the series was postponed because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Kentucky’s non-conference schedule includes Kansas, Detroit Mercy, Hartford, Georgia State, Richmond, Georgia Tech, Cleveland State, Notre Dame and UCLA.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.