Runnin’ Utes appear to have a date at powerhouse Kentucky this season

Utah’s impending date with Wildcats strengthens already-strong nonconference schedule.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari calls to his team during the first half of a second-round game against Buffalo in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Saturday, March 17, 2018, in Boise. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Runnin’ Utes appear to have a date at Rupp Arena.

The Utah men’s basketball team has agreed to a deal for a two-game series with the Kentucky Wildcats for the next two seasons. The agreement, which is not finalized yet, was first reported by ESPN 700.

The agreement, per the report, has Utah traveling to Lexington, Ky., this upcoming season to play the Wildcats at Rupp Arena, with the second part of the deal featuring the Runnin’ Utes and Wildcats facing off at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas the next year.

Utah’s nonconference schedule in 2018-19 appears to be its stiffest to date under coach Larry Krystkowiak. Along with their impending visit to Lexington, the Runnin’ Utes are currently scheduled to face Missouri on the road, Tulsa at home, rival BYU in the Beehive Classic and participate in the 2018 Wooden Legacy tournament in Anaheim, Calif., scheduled for Nov. 22, 23 and 25.

Among the teams confirmed are Utah, Northwestern, Miami, Seton Hall, LaSalle, Fresno State and Hawaii.

As they’re known to do under head coach John Calipari, the Wildcats are expected to reload with prominent prep recruits. Five players from a year ago will participate at the upcoming NBA Draft Combine in Chicago May 16-20, including Hamidou Diallo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox, Jarred Vanderbilt and PJ Washington.

Kentucky has won the SEC title seven times under Calipari and has made the NCAA Tournament eight times in nine years. The Wildcats won the 2011-12 national title and finished NCAA runner-up two years later in 2013-14.

Utah and Kentucky have one very prominent chapter in their history together: The two teams met in the 1998 NCAA championship game in which the Wildcats topped the Runnin’ Utes 78-69 in San Antonio, Texas.

This story will be updated.

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