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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)
Checking in on why the Wildcats and Hokies did not play this month, plus checking in on Tubby Smith.
Kentucky deputy athletic director DeWayne Peevy shed some light Tuesday on why the Wildcats did not end up playing the Virginia Tech men's basketball team earlier this month.
Hokies coach Buzz Williams said two weekends ago that Tech had signed a contract to play Kentucky at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 8. Williams said that game was canceled "without us knowing," so Tech filled the hole last spring with last weekend's Boardwalk Classic game with Washington in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Peevy said Tuesday that there was no contract.
"We never got to a point of a contract," Peevy said. "Definitely a verbal agreement, headed to produce a contract."
The Wildcats instead played Seton Hall — a New Jersey school from the Big East Conference — at the Garden on Dec. 8.
Peevy said it was Kentucky's decision to call off the game with the Hokies.
"We elected to get out of the game and book Seton Hall," Peevy said. "Because it hadn't gotten finalized [with Tech], there was an opportunity to play a different opponent.
"It was a thing that the Garden was looking for as far as [attendance] numbers. But also from a [UK coaching] staff standpoint, we were playing so many ACC schools this year, with us playing Duke and North Carolina, that once the opportunity came to play another team other than Virginia Tech, ... they were in agreement with that as well."
Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweeted last April that Kentucky and Seton Hall were finalizing an agreement to play in December at the Garden.
"I thought the [Tech and UK] staffs had already talked, but they hadn't," Peevy said. "At that point, we hadn't even agreed to a game with Seton Hall."
Seton Hall wound up winning the game with Kentucky, 84-83.
"There were a lot of Seton Hall fans there," Peevy said.
The Hokies lost at Kentucky last season; that was a one-shot deal.
Tubby Smith back at High Point
Tubby Smith has been a head men's basketball coach in the Southeastern Conference, the Big Ten and the Big 12.
But Smith is no longer in a major conference. He is no longer at a big-name school. He is in his first season steering his alma mater, Big South member High Point in North Carolina.
Smith is 67 years old. He could be enjoying retirement right now. So what is he doing at High Point?
"My wife, she said, 'Tubby, you've been a good husband, a good provider. We're set for the rest of our lives financially. The grandkids, we're going to send them to school.' She said, 'Don't forget the great-grandkids. Take your ass back to North Carolina,'" Smith cracked a few months ago at Big South media day at a Charlotte, North Carolina, hotel.
Smith, who steered Kentucky to the 1998 NCAA title, has High Point off to a 6-5 start.
He has guided five schools to the NCAA Tournament — Tulsa, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota and Texas Tech. Smith was fired by American Athletic Conference member Memphis last March after only two seasons at that school.
Smith took the High Point job after consulting with friends in the business such as Cliff Ellis, the coach at former Big South member Coastal Carolina.
"He said, 'Tubby, you'll love it. It's a slow pace. ... You're going to a small town in North Carolina. It's a bus league. You're going to be on buses,'" Smith said.
"I don't know if I'm looking forward to it. I've been driving more than I've driven in a lot of years. ... I was out in Vegas [to recruit], I was having to drive myself around. I haven't done that in years. My eyesight is not the best it's been."
Smith, who grew up in Maryland, graduated from High Point in 1973.
"I've got a lot of friends here," Smith said. "I've come to North Carolina every year since I graduated, spent time with friends."
Smith's wife is also a High Point graduate. They met when she was a freshman at the school and he was a senior.
"She was ready to come back, to maybe slow down," Smith said. "It's pretty intense at most major colleges."
Smith's son G.G. is his associate head coach.
"It's been an unbelievable help, because I've been at a certain level. He was at Loyola (of Maryland). ... He was at Armstrong Atlantic. He was at ... Johns Hopkins," Smith said. "So he understands why, 'Dad, we should be over there watching these kids on this court. These are the kids we have a chance to recruit.'"
Smith replaced Scott Cherry, who steered High Point for nine years. The Panthers have never made the NCAAs since moving up to Division I in 1999.
Smith has won 603 games as a Division I head coach.
"I still have the energy," he said. "I'm still fired up, because I've got a great group of kids at High Point. And coaching at my alma mater, that's really inspiring."
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