Irish to Battle Kentucky

Irish to renew rivalry with Kentucky in Freedom Hall next December.

The following is a release courtesy Notre Dame athletics:

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame men's basketball team is scheduled to meet Kentucky at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday, Dec. 8 as part of the 2010 DIRECTV SEC/BIG EAST Invitational. The Irish will be making their first-ever appearance in the event.

The fourth-annual, two-night event, begins with the doubleheader on Dec. 2 at Freedom Hall as Arkansas is slated to take on Seton Hall at 7:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2. The Irish and Wildcats will tip-off the nightcap at approximately 9:30 p.m. (ET) in a game that will be televised on ESPN.

"We are excited to be part of this year's edition of the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational," Irish head coach Mike Brey says. "There certainly is a long history between Notre Dame and Kentucky at Freedom Hall. This will be great non-conference test for us in the month of December before heading into conference play. I am excited for our team that we will have the opportunity to play Kentucky in what I know will be a great college basketball atmosphere."

Three nights later on Saturday, Dec. 11, the brand new CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa., will play host to the second doubleheader of the challenge as Rutgers will take on Auburn on ESPN2, followed by Pittsburgh versus Tennessee on ESPN. Game times for these contests will be announced at a later date.

In addition to the Irish, the Pirates, Scarlet Knights and Panthers will all be making their first-ever appearances in the SEC/BIG EAST Invitational. Three of the SEC teams — Kentucky, Tennessee and Auburn — will play in the event for the second time.

The matchup between the Irish and Wildcats revisits a long tradition for the two storied programs at Freedom Hall. The two have met at the historic venue on 32 occasions with the first contest played in January 1937. The rivalry was held in Louisville every season from 1962-63 to 1987-88. Kentucky has a 23-9 advantage in games played at Freedom Hall. The Wildcats won the last meeting (78-69) against the Irish at Freedom Hall on Jan. 31, 1988.

Kentucky leads the overall series 41-18. In the most recent matchup on March 25, 2009 in the third round of the National Invitation Tournament, the Irish snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Wildcats with the 77-67 win at Notre Dame.

Five of the eight participating teams reached the postseason in 2009-10, with Kentucky and Tennessee advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight. Pittsburgh and Notre Dame also played in the NCAA Tournament, while Seton Hall played in the NIT.

Teams invited to participate in the DIRECTV SEC/BIG EAST Invitational are chosen by ESPN in consultation with the conferences and are based on geographic and competitive criteria.

The BIG EAST holds a 7-5 record in the first three years of the DIRECTV SEC/BIG EAST Invitational. The two conferences have combined to produce four of the last eight NCAA Men's Basketball Champions (Florida - 2007 and 2006; Connecticut - 2004; Syracuse - 2003) and seven of the last 15 national champions (Connecticut - 1999; Kentucky - 1998 and 1996).

Tickets for the 2010 DIRECTV SEC/BIG EAST Invitational are expected to go on sale in early fall. Top Stories