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$2 Million Raised

Oscar Tshiebwe prepares to throw a T-shirt to the crowd during an open practice Tuesday night at Rupp Arena. (Keith Taylor/Kentucky Today)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Kentucky will be taking one of its exhibition games on the road this season.

The Wildcats will play its annual Blue-White game at a site to be announced at a later date it was announced during the Kentucky Flood Relief Telethon Tuesday night at Rupp Arena. The Kentucky men’s basketball team had an open. practice to raise funds for victims of last week’s deadly flooding that claimed 37 lives.

The event raised more than $2 million through the Red Cross that will be used to help assist in clean-up and recovery efforts in Eastern Kentucky.

“This (idea) was from the minds of this group,” Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari said. “We planned this in 48 hours.”

Gonzaga coach Mark Few addressed the the team and attendees on the video board and expressed his appreciation for the team’s efforts to help aid the flood victims.

“What you’re doing right now is God’s work,” Few said. “That’s coming from the son of a preacher. This is what it should be all about — giving back and making a difference. … It’s so cool that you guys are doing this.”

During his appearance Few and Calipari announced a home-and-home series between the two collegiate powerhouses. The Wildcats will play the Zags on Nov. 20 in Spokane, Washington on Nov. 20 and Gonzaga will return the favor in 2023 by making a first trip to Lexington.

The Wildcats, led by reigning college basketball Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe, practiced for an hour and a half and answered questions from fans in the stands. Each player took part in the practice session with the exception of Lance Ware.

Former Kentucky player Jack Givens, color commentator on the UK Network, praised the team’s desire to reach out and lend a helping hand in times of need.

“It’s amazing these players came up with this idea,” he said.

Casidy Rowe, a freshman on the women’s basketball team and a graduate of Shelby Valley High School in Virgie, one of the areas inpaced by the heavy flooding. Rowe visited the region last weekend and was shocked by the devastation.

“It was heartbreaking to see people I love hurting,” Rowe said. “You just don’t know (hoiw much they are hurting) until you see it first hand.”

The women’s basketball team will have a camp from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at North Laurel High School in London, with all proceeds going to the flood relief efforts in Eastern Kentucky.

In closing, Calipari urged fans and others to keep Eastern Kentuckians in their hearts.

“Please pray for for those affected by those floods,” he said.

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Keith Taylor
Keith Taylor is an award-winning journalist who has covered Kentucky athletics since 1995. He is the sports editor of Kentucky Today and his work appears in 12 daily newspapers as well as various weekly and web sites throughout the state. Reach him at Keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor 21.

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