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December 5, 2013
Baylor doubleheader pairs UK men's, women's teams
It didn't take much to convince Matthew Mitchell.
John Calipari had hatched an idea in the summer of 2012 -- a men's and women's basketball doubleheader with Kentucky taking on Baylor in both sports at the home of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys -- and his pitch to Mitchell was brief.
"He had the idea and he called me one afternoon and I agreed in about 15 seconds," Mitchell said. "There wasn't a lot of back-and-forth on it."
It was a no-brainer for Mitchell's women's team, a chance to play in a high-profile event at a neutral site against one of the sport's elite programs. And it gave him a chance to further align himself with the UK men's program, which has built "an incredible brand that's as recognizable as any sports brand in the world," Mitchell said.
"I just have always thought you're silly if you don't try to do everything you can to be a part of that," Mitchell said. "And then Cal is just so supportive and so creative and thinks about things like this. He didn't have to. He could have gone down there and done this on his own. He could have played the game on his own."
Instead, Calipari pitched that not only would the men's and women's teams play the same opponent on the same night in the same venue -- Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas -- but they'd travel together and spend time together in the process.
The result is a monster doubleheader of hoops.
The Kentucky women are ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press poll. Baylor is No. 9. The Wildcats are ranked No. 3 in the men's poll, and Baylor is No. 20.
"It's a lot of fun, it's very, very unique, it's very exciting, and we're just very appreciative to be a part of it," Mitchell said.
Calipari and Mitchell went as far as to try involving football coach Mark Stoops, who Calipari joked balked at the suggestion of playing Baylor or Notre Dame in a tripleheader and suggested basketball power Connecticut.
Even without the football Cats involved, the night is a big one for UK.
"This is not just about a basketball program, this athletic department," Calipari said.
"It's about a lot of athletes, from all the different sports. Anywhere we can come together and help each other, it's good."