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Despite John Calipari’s and Tom Crean’s best efforts, UK and Indiana have been spared rivalry withdrawal in the week since it was announced the men’s basketball series between the two schools would be disbanded.
No. 6 UK coasted over Radford in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Lexington, 4-0, setting up a Saturday match in the round of 32 with the No. 27 Hoosiers.
Indiana won earlier in the day, 4-2 over Louisville.
Saturday’s second-rounder will be the second time the two schools have played since word leaked out on May 3 that the basketball series wouldn’t continue next year over a quarrel between putting the game at on-campus or neutral sites, perhaps in Indianapolis and Louisville.
UK’s baseball team beat the Hoosiers in Bloomington on Wednesday, 6-5 in 12 innings. For what it’s worth, both Wednesday’s and Saturday’s games will be played on campus sites.
“I think any time Indiana and Kentucky play each other, a lot of people are paying attention,” Indiana coach Randy Bloemendaal said.
The Cats coasted through the first round seemingly unchallenged. Kentucky took the doubles point early and moved on to the singles round, which it dominated further. Eric Quigley, ranked No. 3 in the nation in singles play, made quick work of Radford’s Nick Sayer. Quigley went up a break early in the first set and never let off the attack, winning 6-2, 6-1.
“I wanted to get out to a good start knowing it’s been a couple of weeks since we played,” Quigley said. “I think both teams were going to be a little rusty and not at the top of their game knowing there’s been a big break. I’m pretty pleased with the way I played, and overall I think we all are to get through and get on against Indiana.”
Within minutes of Quigley winning to give UK a 2-0 lead in the match, UK’s Alejandro Gomez (6-2, 6-1 over Joe Mills) and Anthony Rossi (6-2, 6-0 over Stijn Meulemans) each won their matches to clinch the through to the next round.
UK and Indiana played in Lexington on Jan. 24, a match the Cats won 7-0, but Quigley contested that the match was closer than it appeared and that several of the Cats were pushed to three sets.
The rematch between the two schools will be the eighth meeting between the schools since 2000. Even if the schools won’t play in basketball next year, Emery said the Cats can salvage another win and another dose of bragging rights over the Hoosiers on Saturday.
“Should be an interesting one,” UK coach Dennis Emery said. “As somebody said earlier, this would be a tremendous basketball regional with Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana.”
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