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Title: MARSHALL KENTUCKY

Marshall’s Eric Smith, right, drives the ball around Kentucky’s Kelenna Azubuike during a 2003 game between the Wildcats and Thundering Herd. Marshall is scheduled to visit Kentucky on Dec. 29 in Lexington.

Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.

These opinions are hotter than the weather.

n It’s finally official.

Marshall University is going to play the University of Kentucky during the 2020-21 men’s basketball season on December 29 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Thundering Herd needed one more non-conference game for its schedule and the “need” just so happened to be for a “buy game.” Marshall usually plays three “buy games” per season. In 2019-20, for example, the Herd played at Notre Dame, at the University of Florida and in the Cleveland Classic vs. Duquesne.

Until the University of Kentucky game was finalized, Marshall had two “buy games” scheduled for the 2020-21 season. There’s a game at Xavier, which is expected to yield $90,000 and also a game at Virginia Tech with a similar payout.

Now, the Herd’s non-conference schedule is all booked up, thanks to coach John Calipari’s Wildcats.

It makes dollars, not to mention sense, considering Marshall’s series with Kentucky dates all the way back to 1914. On Jan. 21 of that year, MU’s Boyd Chambers coached Marshall to a 46-6 loss vs. the Wildcats.

They played again in 1922 with UK taking a 34-12 decision. Then, there were 42-26 and 46-16 losses in 1930 and ’31, respectively. That era finished up with a 57-23 loss to UK in 1932 in a game played at Ashland, Kentucky, followed by a 48-26 loss in ’33 both under coach Tom Dandelet.

Then, the series took a 54-year hiatus.

It resumed in 1988 when Kentucky defeated coach Rick Huckabay’s Herd, 91-78, in the UK Invitational Tournament (UKIT), despite John Taft’s 29 points. Next, in 1994, Dwight Freeman’s MU squad got hammered, 116-75, by the fifth-ranked ‘Cats.

Next came, perhaps, the most entertaining game in the series. In 1995, new MU coach Billy Donovan led the Herd to an exciting 118-99 loss to No. 4 UK behind the play of point guard Jason Williams.

After a seven-year respite in the series, it resumed on Dec. 1, 2003 with coach Ron Jirsa’s Thundering Herd losing, 89-76, to the fourth-ranked Wildcats. Next, there was another hiatus – eight years this time – until Tom Herrion coached Marshall to an 82-54 loss to Kentucky.

Now, the UK-Marshall series will resume — again.

Just don’t expect the Thundering Herd to be a regular non-conference fixture on Kentucky’s schedule. That’s not going to happen. Nor, probably, should it.

But every now and then? It’s fun to take on the “big boys.” It provides Marshall with a very accurate measuring stick.

Mark this date on the calendar, Herd fans.

n Just when we thought ESPN couldn’t make any worse decisions …

The sports television network found a way to out-worse itself.

The Basketball Tournament game between Herd That (an alumni team from Marshall University) and the Peoria All-Stars on Sunday afternoon was the clincher.

The game actually started at 2 p.m., except for one caveat. ESPN deemed the doubles corn hole competition as being more important – I’m not making this up, folks — and shifted basketball to ESPNews or the ESPN App.

That’s when the next problem arrived. The ESPN App didn’t work on cell phones or televisions and lots of folks don’t have ESPNews.

So, instead, we stewed. And cursed. And stewed. And cursed some more.

The acronym known as ESPN is now a full-fledged profanity.

The telecast of the game finally began with Herd That holding a 15-10 lead. My lip still wasn’t uncurled by then, however.

Doubles corn hole, indeed.

Somewhere there is an ESPN producer that has a bean bag with my name on it aimed right for his corn hole of a head.

OK, I feel better now.