Virus woes cancel Ohio St-Kentucky showdown, other games

National Sports

An empty Pauley Pavilion is seen before an NCAA college basketball game between UCLA and Alabama State Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. The game will not be played due to COVID-19 protocols. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Rising coronavirus concerns hit college basketball on Thursday, with officials calling off two Top 25 men’s games this weekend.

The game between No. 15 Ohio State and No. 21 Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas was canceled because of positive COVID-19 results within the Buckeyes program. Kentucky said the Wildcats were still scheduled to travel to Las Vegas to find a possible replacement game and are working with Classic officials to fill the void.

No. 4 UCLA is scheduled to play North Carolina in the same tournament on Saturday, though the Bruins had to cancel Wednesday’s home game against Alabama State due to COVID-19 protocols.

Bruins athletics director Martin Jarmond tweeted Thursday the school does “not have an update yet” on the status of the matchup with the Tar Heels. North Carolina spokesman Steve Kirschner said the team planned to travel to Las Vegas “with every intention of playing UCLA.”

On the East Coast, No. 16 Seton Hall canceled Saturday’s game against Iona in the Gotham Classic game at Madison Square Garden in New York because of COVID-19 issues within the Pirates’ program. The Big East school said the status of future games will be determined later.

The pandemic severely disrupted college sports in 2020, though this year’s football season largely came off without widespread scheduling problems. The basketball season that began in early November has now seen the number of postponements or outright cancellations grow in the past two weeks, with Tulane idling its program all week.

A men’s game at Northwestern on Saturday was canceled due to positive COVID-19 results within the DePaul program. Second-ranked Duke has scheduled a Saturday game with Loyola Maryland as a replacement for a canceled matchup with Cleveland State. The Vikings have paused team activities and also canceled a Tuesday game at Kent State due to positive tests.

On the women’s side, No. 19 Kentucky’s nonconference game against Morgan State on Friday night has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Bears’ program. The school said in a release that a makeup date was possible but has not been scheduled. The Wildcats (6-3) will host USC Upstate on Sunday.

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