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A Great Night of UK Basketball in the Chicken Hut

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Tonight at the Yum Center was yet another example of why when it comes to college basketball, there is no place in America quite like Kentucky. In their arch-rival’s arena, Kentucky fans nearly filled the place, watching the UK Legends fall to the Dominican Republic National team 91-86. It was another rather sloppily played game by the former UK stars, as two days worth of games, no training camp and a somewhat weakened lineup caught up to the boys in Blue. The Dominican team played its starters in the first half and reserves in the second, but the Kentucky players could never get closer than a one point deficit late. The game was entertaining, but the UK Pros were hindered by their inability to shoot from behind the arc, finishing 1-19 from three-point land in the loss.

But honestly, that is beside the point. What is much more important is to embrace what a great 48 hours it has been for Kentucky basketball. If you found your way into either Rupp Arena or the Yum! Center, then you know that these last 48 hours have embraced the best of what Kentucky basketball means. Think about what we saw:

FANS: Over the course of two nights, over 40,000 UK fans packed the two arenas to watch EXHIBITION BASKETBALL IN THE MIDDLE OF AUGUST! That is absolutely insane. Del Harris said that the game on Monday night was akin to a NBA playoff atmosphere and the game on Tuesday saw an opposing arena filled with their biggest rival’s colors. It was absolutely phenomenal to see. Plus both arenas were filled with a different type of fan from a normal game. I met many people who were watching UK play for either the first or second time live and who were excited to experience UK fandom in person. The raucous nature of the arenas suggested people thrilled to see the stars play, whether or not the game counted for anything.

THE FORMER PLAYERS: While Kentucky basketball has always been great, I have thought for some time that the program has dropped the ball on reaching out to its former players. Calipari has changed that. Seeing a guy like Keith Bogans, who had never been back to a UK basketball game since his playing days were over, once again in Blue and embraced by the fans, was phenomenal. Tayshaun Prince got the masses excited by hitting early threes, Rajon Rondo became part of the UK family again and Boogie/Wall/Bledsoe started the tradition of annual returns to their college home, all in games that fans were able to enjoy. Cousins told me before the game on Tuesday that spending time with Prince, Rondo, Bogans and Nazr was his favorite part of the whole experience and that he hoped it happened more often in the future. We want the players to love the events as much as we do, and reunions like this are how to make it happen. Calipari often talks about his players being a “family” and these games helped extend that family to those that played before he became the coach.

JOE B AND DENNY: Older UK fans would have never imagined that Denny Crum would get two loud ovations from UK fans in Rupp and Louisville. But it happened and he seemed genuinely touched by it. Joe B Hall, a coach who hasnt been on the sidelines since the mid-80s, became a cause for younger fans to rally behind and an entire new generation fell for the legendary homegrown Kentuckian. The two coaches had a blast interacting with the younger players and to the players credit, they completely embraced the former coaches. Watching their interactions was one of the highlights of the two games for me and the smiles on the coaches’ faces after the game Tuesday night were tremendous to see.

As far as the actual game tonight, it could have been played better. The UK players missed a lot of free throws and while they gave full effort, they were no match for a well-coached team that (a) had been in camp and in shape and (b) actually had offensive sets to run, rather than one-on-one basketball. It was actually a good lesson for a basketball fan, seeing that teams with some talent will beat players thrown together any day of the week. Simply running an offense and defense hides a lot, and showcases that when people say “X group of individuals could beat Y team”, they are usually going to be wrong.

Some quotes from the evening:

John Calipari: In the middle of August, over 40,000 people came and watched basketball over 2 nights. Only the University of Kentucky could do that.

Demarcus Cousins: When asked about the fact that the lights went out right before tipoff, Pitino probably had something to do with it….or they ain’t pay the light bill or something.

Denny Crum: Crum said that a late call against Brandon Knight was a “terrible call” and Calipari joked that if he said that, he would get in trouble with the SEC. Crum replied, I am not in any Cs”

And for me the oddest moment of the night came when Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher attempted to kill time while the lights were out in the Yum Center. He said that he loved the “International spirit” of the game and that he hoped the fans there would also come out for some International festival in Louisville in a few weeks. He said, “I hope people come see our Mexicans and Chinese and all of our other international flavor. Not his finest hour.

All in all, a great night and one that I hope can be repeated one day. Tomorrow on KSTV, we will have extended highlights of the Louisville game all show and then we will later put those packages up on KSR. In the interim, here are the FIRST AND SECOND HALF HIGHLIGHTS OF THE LEXINGTON GAMES, shot by our KSTV Cameras:

Article written by Matt Jones

40 Comments for A Great Night of UK Basketball in the Chicken Hut



  1. Clap Tom Clap Crean Clap
    12:11 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    Doin it right! (and first)



  2. Hurtt
    12:22 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    I was named ESPN recruiter of the year my first year at Loueyville! I’m a living god!

    BIGG HURTT



  3. UofL Fan
    12:25 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    All UK does is hire cheaters in football and runners for shoe companies

    oh wait…nevermind



  4. Jon Lowe
    12:30 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    Thanks for the videos Matt; How about them 6 hot girls to your left tonight at the Yum Yum center..Nice!!



  5. Peeloy Vargas
    12:43 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    If they had’ve let me play I would have peed all over those stinky Dominicans. Paging Humphrey Togart, over.

    Thanks,
    Peeloy Vargas



  6. tyson
    12:51 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    4. you beat me to it. Chip Crosby had the best seat in the Yum Center for the first half, sitting right next to them.

    Anthony Davis was in the stands two rows behind me. he had as many autograph and picture requests as any of the Pros and handled it very well. he didnt turn anyone down. seemed like a great kid.



  7. jason
    1:01 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    Cant wait to see the Vargas dunk from tonight.



  8. Jimmy Dykes Vocabulary
    1:03 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    That was an awesome environment and I got to see, of all things, Matt Jones sign a freaking basketball for a kid.



  9. JVice
    2:06 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    you sure they finished 1-19 from three? in the first 10 seconds of the highlights, Prince hits 2 treys



  10. Part Time Listener
    2:24 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    So there goes the theory anyone could have coached the UK Pro players to a winning season. Coach Cal made the former Louisville Players look good. Cal is the man!



  11. Calipari'sInYourEar
    2:44 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    I want to see Matt Jones sign a check.



  12. suckoffbbnhaters!!!
    3:44 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    Coach Cal is so far ahead of the rest of the college coaches that its almost not even funny, i mean seriously the man is awesome! 2 exhibition games in the middle of August and fans are 40,000+ deep= GOD I LOVE BBN!!



  13. BigBlueSkyDog
    6:03 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    It was a great night. Seeing Wall and Boogie back on the floor together was great. Rondo put on a great show with his slashing and passing. At the end you didn’t care that much about the scoreboard. Kentucky is the Mecca of college basketball and that was reaffirmed again last night. Buena suerte a los Domincanos. Hope to see you guys competing for a medal next year.



  14. MacGruber
    7:05 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    UoL = “Doing it the right way”



  15. EyewearMan
    7:06 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    Pro’s vs Jose’



  16. crackerhillbilly
    7:24 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    As a Louisville-based Cat fan this was my first time in the Chicken Hut. Nice arena, but far from the hype I’d been hearing.



  17. Brian
    7:25 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    I think it is so funny that this game only managed to draw 15,000 to the Yum! Center,Despite dropping prices to $5.00 a ticket on game day. I know it has to just kill Calipari that it wasn’t a sell out. Hell, He was on WHAS radio last week almost begging people to show up.
    I know U of K fans like to think they have this huge fan base in Jefferson County, well obviously they DON’T. It has been years since they sold out Freedom Hall for their annual game. Last season, they played a Top Ten Team (Notre Dame) an barely had 170000 there!! TOO FUNNY!!!!!!



  18. Brian
    7:27 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    That’s 17000 not 170000



  19. CARD FAN
    7:35 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    THAT IS SO FUNNY!!!!! THEY DROP THE TICKET PRICES TO $ 5.00 a TICKET AND STILL CAN’T SELL THE PLACE OUT!!!! NEXT TIME THEY SHOULD GIVE THE TICKETS AWAY FOR FREE, or EVEN BETTER PAY PEOPLE TO SHOW UP!!!!!!!



  20. awesometron
    7:39 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    #17 & #18

    It seems like you’re missing the big picture. There were a lot of people from Jefferson County that bought tickets for the game in Rupp before tickets for the Yum Center were announced. Drawing over 40,000 people in two nights to exhibition games is unbelievable.

    For any UofL fan that thinks because the Bucket wasn’t sold out that this was a failure, needs to readjust their flat bill and trim their line beard. UofL would NEVER come close to selling 15,000 tickets at Rupp for an exhibition game…never. Also, I find it hard to call coming to your rivals arena, bringing a laundry list of pros and making a bunch of money a failure.



  21. JOHN CALIPARI
    7:40 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    WA!! WA!! Shut up about not selling out the Yum Center!! I tried hard to sell the tickets, but I have failed almost as bad as I have failed to ever win a National Championship!!!!!!!!



  22. CatFan4444
    7:47 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    You’re still little brother Card fans. 2nd..always and forever. Sorry goobers.



  23. Matty Bangs
    7:50 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    Well, at least we filled the YUM! with BLue??????
    Felt like it anyway, wait maybe that was my pants.
    Go Cayuts Cal for PRez! HUHUHUHUHU



  24. bluesince66
    8:15 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    It amazes me ul fans feel this inferior. Didn’t ul have to former players on the Dominican team? Seems they weren’t being very supportive of one of their own that took them to their last final four in the past decade, surely they can remember that far back.



  25. Kidnut
    8:15 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    Sounds like a terrific night. Congratulations to Coach Cal and UK for taking the steps to bring former players back in.



  26. Wildcat 1nsight
    8:25 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    Actually, Recently UL has been little step brother, not even being the second best B-ball program in the state.



  27. DON
    8:27 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    Tard attendance rank, even with a new arena? I rest my case. LMAO!

    ..and a poor little UL child is born in the ghetto, IN THE GHETTTOOOOOO!

    LOL!



  28. ThatsAShame
    8:33 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    Looks like all the players involved had a great time. It’s nice to see UK players of the past few years enjoying themselves.



  29. The Good Doctor
    8:34 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    #20 The problem with your agruement is that it uses logic. Card fans never understand that.



  30. salty dog
    8:36 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    i can’t help thinking….a loss is a loss. and both of these losses stink.



  31. Mattcat68
    8:38 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    It was so much fun watching these former UK guys come back home and play together. I really hope they find a way to make this an annual event.



  32. Carl
    8:38 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    I was there, had a great time. The players were having fun. Didn’t matter who won. Calipari has Sosa hitting on his 3 pointers consistently, something he couldn’t do in college.
    BTW: Will the NCAA count these victories for Cal? just kidding….just kidding 🙂



  33. TX Cat Fan
    8:41 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    Small nitpick here: I went to see UK play Houston a few years back under BCG and Bogans and HAyes were both on the bunch… I had seats directly behind the UK bench and you could tell the team was lost.



  34. TomCreanHasTheClaps
    8:44 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    What #24 said.



  35. Legggooo
    9:09 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    #9 – the 1 for 19 was for the game in the YUM Center. Prince played in the first game at Rupp.



  36. Al's IndiCats
    9:15 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    LMAO at the line beards! Seriously you small minded little dirtbags didn’t fill up a high school gym for the former players and your bitching about 15,000 in the deep frier? I’m sure most of you Looserville fans would have been there but you couldn’t make it there because of your jobs, the fact is that the guy who weighed your aluminum cans probably cheated you out of your hard earned money! Maybe next semester you’ll learn multiplication, or your attention span will last longer the 15 seconds.



  37. Al's IndiCats
    9:18 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    Really?



  38. jefres
    10:45 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    sosa and garcia killing them lol kentucky legends my ass



  39. another girl
    10:46 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    i didn’t see any highlights with harrelson or knight…i got a glimpse of liggins from the first half video but that’s it…how’d the younger guys do?



  40. whoops
    11:22 am August 17, 2011 Permalink

    Louisville needs to remember that they will not be playing the all-star, one day of practice, out of shape team and their coach wont be in coaching the cats when the season starts, and cal is still undeafeded in Lex and Louisville.