Kentucky will play at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas for the first time Friday night. Wildcats coach John Calipari is hoping his team ends up having two more games there in April.
Third-ranked Kentucky will take on No. 20 Baylor in the inaugural???Big 12-SEC???Challenge, giving both teams a look at the site of the 2014 Final Four.
"We aren't going to have 80,000 (fans) there but my hope is that because of the games that are being played there, everybody is ranked, it's going to be a terrific environment," Calipari said. "I haven't been in the building but everybody tells me it's just ridiculous. They are moving the court to one side, but the court will be raised, so it will be like that kind of environment. I am excited."
Though it's certainly the biggest venue the Wildcats (7-1) have played in this season, they're getting used to playing neutral-site games. This will be Kentucky's third of 2013-14 and second in a row.
The Wildcats knocked off Providence 79-65 at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on Sunday. James Young scored a team-high 18 points while Willie Cauley-Stein had 15 points, nine blocked shots - giving him 16 in the past two games - and eight rebounds.
The win marked the end of freshman Julius Randle's career-opening seven-game streak of double-doubles, which tied Jim Andrews' run in 1971-72 for the most by a Kentucky player to start a season. Randle, averaging 18.1 points and 12.5 rebounds, had 12 and eight against the Friars.
Randle will look to get back on track in a familiar setting, as he's a Dallas native. He said he's been to AT&T Stadium before, and that many of the Baylor players he'll be facing were teammates or opponents of his during high school and AAU games.
"I'm very familiar with their guys," Randle said. "They're a really good team. They can shoot the ball and have some long, athletic bigs. It should be a good challenge for us."
The 6-foot-9 Randle and 7-foot Cauley-Stein could dominate down low Friday. The Wildcats are averaging 46.8 rebounds, among the best marks in the country, and Randle's 37 offensive boards rank in the top 10.
Baylor, however, also has size in Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin. The 6-9 Jefferson leads the team with 13.5 points and 8.8 rebounds a game, while the 7-1 Austin is averaging 3.3 blocks.
The Bears (7-1) complement their inside game with proficient long-range shooting, as they've made 44.4 from 3-point range, ninth best in the country.
Brady Heslip has led the way by making 52.0 percent from beyond the arc. Twenty-six of his 31 made field goals on the season are 3-pointers.
Haslip and Rico Gathers paced the Bears with 17 points apiece in a 104-59 rout of Hardin-Simmons on Sunday. Jefferson added 16 points and 10 rebounds in just 22 minutes as he geared up for a matchup Baylor has been looking forward to.
"It's a big game on our schedule. We've been waiting on it all year," Jefferson said. "But we've been doing pretty well as a team, not to overlook all of the games that were before this game coming up. Now, the main focus is on the big game."
Kentucky and Baylor will be meeting for the third time in as many seasons. The Wildcats won 82-70 in the regional final of the 2012 NCAA tournament, and the Bears exacted some revenge Dec. 1, 2012, with a 64-55 victory at Rupp Arena. That snapped Kentucky's 54-game home winning streak.
Kentucky has taken seven of eight all-time meetings with Baylor.