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uk basketball logoBy LARRY VAUGHT

With the loaded non-conference basketball schedule that Kentucky has, not playing Samford during the 2013-14 season is barely noticeable.

Kentucky has neutral site games with Michigan State, Baylor and Providence. It plays at North Carolina. It will host Louisville, as well as two other potential NCAA Tournament teams in Belmont and Boise State.

Still, I wondered what happened to the game that seemed all but set with Samford in Birmingham.

Martin Newton, Samford’s athletics director and John Calipari’s former director of basketball operations at UK, worked out an apparent three-year deal with Kentucky last year after he got the job at Samford. Newton’s team played last Dec. 20 at Rupp Arena and the general consensus was that the two teams would play early in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons. The game next season was scheduled to be played at either the Pete Hanna Center on the Samford campus or at the Birmingham Jefferson Center Arena downtown.

Kentucky associate athletics director DeWayne Peevy wouldn’t say what happened other than “we agreed to cancel the game versus Samford after both teams couldn’t agree on a mutual date.”

Newton said it was a “long story” about why the teams were not playing.

“We were having a hard time finding a mutually agreeable date, so we agreed to cancel for 2013-14,” Newton said.

Will the teams play then during the 2014-15 season?

“Not sure yet,” Newton said.

Samford sports information director Zac Schrieber even thought the teams were going to be playing and started following several Kentucky basketball writers on Twitter Wednesday knowing that UK was going to release it schedule.

“I’m pretty disappointed. I was looking forward to welcoming the (Kentucky) media horde to Birmingham,” Schrieber said.

“In talking to Martin, there really wasn’t much to it. The dates just didn’t work out this season. He didn’t specifically mention anything, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens at some point in the future.”

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