Border battle returns: Cats, Hoosiers to resume storied series

Published 4:22 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2023

By Keith Taylor, Kentucky Today

LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — One of the most storied rivalries in college basketball is back.

Kentucky and Indiana announced a joint agreement on a four-game series on Tuesday. The Wildcats and Hoosiers will resume the series on Dec. 20, 2025 at Rupp Arena. The two border rivals will play again the following season on Dec. 27, 2026 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The series is back at Rupp Arena on Dec. 18, 2027 and will conclude on Dec. 16, 2028 at Assembly Hall in Bloomington.

Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart and Indiana athletics director Scott Dolson jointly agreed on the four-year contact.

“It’s great to renew this series, which is among the most competitive rivalries and storied traditions of college basketball,” Barnhart said. “The matchup will resume its place as one of the nation’s most anticipated games of the season. This emanated from Coach (John Calipari) and Coach (Mike) Woodson getting together and talking about playing again. I’ve enjoyed spending time with Scott Dolson and getting to know him better as we’ve worked out the details.”

Dolson echoed Barnhart’s feelings about restoring the series.

“This is an exciting day for not only IU and UK Basketball, but college basketball,” said Dolson. “When you consider the history, the passion, and the proximity of our schools, this is a game that means a great deal to so many people. I appreciate Mitch Barnhart’s willingness to work together to resume what I believe to be college basketball’s best non-conference rivalry. I also appreciate the support of Coach Calipari and Coach Woodson and their desire to bring this series back. Their relationship is a big reason why we are able to make today’s announcement.”

Calipari is anxious to resume the series. The two teams last met in the Hoosiers defeated the Wildcats 73-72 in 2011 at Assembly Hall in Bloomington. It took 21 years — 1944-1965 — before the series resumed following a 21-year hiatus.

“This is a really important rivalry to our fans and the game of college basketball and we’re happy to bring it back,” Calipari said. “Mike and I have been friends for years and I have the utmost respect for him as a coach and as a man. Let’s do this!”

Kentucky and Indiana have meet twice in the NCAA Tournament in the past 12 years. The Wildcats defeated the Hoosiers, 102-90 in the Sweet Sixteen in Atlanta in 2012, while the Hoosiers returned the favor with a 73-67 win at De Moines in 2016.

Like Calipari, Woodson is looking forward to resuming the series.

“This is a great day for our program and our fans,” Woodson said. “Indiana-Kentucky is one of the best rivalries in college basketball, with so many great games over the years.  We worked hard to get this done, and I could not be happier to be playing Kentucky once again.”