No. 15 Ohio State vs. No. 21 Kentucky Canceled Due to Buckeyes' COVID-19 Outbreak

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 16, 2021

Ohio State forward Zed Key is seen during an NCAA college basketball game against Wisconsin in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. Ohio State won 73-55. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
AP Photo/Paul Vernon

Ohio State University announced Thursday that its scheduled men's basketball game against Kentucky on Saturday has been canceled because of positive COVID-19 tests within the Buckeyes program.

The clash between No. 15 Ohio State and No. 21 Kentucky would have been part of the CBS Sports Classic at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

No. 4 UCLA and North Carolina are currently scheduled to play Saturday in the other CBS Sports Classic game. However, the Bruins' game against Alabama State on Wednesday was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols, as head coach Mick Cronin had been previously ruled out for the contest because of protocols.

Stadium's Jeff Goodman and Fox 56's Nicole Hutchison reported the Wildcats and Tar Heels may wind up facing off:

Jeff Goodman @GoodmanHoops

Everything trending to Kentucky playing North Carolina Saturday in Las Vegas, sources told <a href="https://twitter.com/Stadium?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Stadium</a>.

Nicole Hutchison FOX 56 @nhutchisontv

<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BREAKING?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BREAKING</a>: <a href="https://twitter.com/KentuckyMBB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KentuckyMBB</a> is planning to play <a href="https://twitter.com/UNC_Basketball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UNC_Basketball</a> after their matchup against Ohio State was cancelled due to COVID issue inside the Buckeyes program, per sources. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BBN?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BBN</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/FOX56News?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@FOX56News</a>

Regarding the COVID-19 outbreak within the program, Ohio State said the following in a statement:

"The safety and well-being of the student-athletes, coaches, staff and Ohio State community is the highest priority. All team related activities have been suspended and the players and staff will continue to be tested according to Ohio State protocols in consultation with the Big Ten Conference."

Ohio State also noted the "status of future games is to be determined."

The Buckeyes are off to an 8-2 start this season and have a 2-0 mark in Big Ten play, tying them with Michigan State and Illinois atop the conference.

Ohio State would have entered the game against Kentucky on a four-game winning streak, including victories over then-No. 1 Duke and then-No. 22 Wisconsin.

The Buckeyes are led by 2020-21 First Team All-Big Ten coaches selection E.J. Liddell, who is averaging 20.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 2.7 assists per game.

Kentucky has also been playing well with a 7-2 record, although it lost its most recent game 66-62 to Notre Dame on the heels of a seven-game winning streak.

After head coach John Calipari's team disappointed with a 9-16 record and missed the NCAA tournament last season, it is looking the part of a tourney team.

Junior Oscar Tshiebwe has been the star for the Wildcats with 16.3 points, 14.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per contest.

Ohio State's next scheduled game is home against UT Martin on Dec. 21, while Kentucky is slated to play next on Dec. 22 against Louisville at home.