Monday night Kentucky coach John Calipari brought former UK players back together once again in Rupp Arena to raise over 1 million dollars for local charities. The alumni suited up in blue and white uniforms and played their game in front of nearly 20,000 fans including current UK players and recruits.
John Wall and his triple double ( 40points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) led to Blue team to a 111-95 victory over the White team. Wall was joined by Ramon Harris, DeAndre Liggins, Josh Harrellson, Perry Stevenson, Jared Prickett and Patrick Patterson.
Brandon Knight lead the White team in scoring with 30 points. The White team consisted of Knight, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, and Randolph Morris.
The game wasn’t a lob fest as many would expect but rather showcased two match ups, Wall vs. Knight and Kidd-Gilchrist vs. Liggins. Right from the tip it seemed as Kidd-Gilchrist and Liggins (whom
never played together at UK) had a personal vendetta against each other, playing pressure defense and demanding the ball on offense in hope to break their defender. Kidd-Gilchrist made his way to the hoop several times scoring 26 points, while Liggins mainly settled for permitter jumpers which he surprisingly hit most the night, this being something Kentucky fans weren’t used to seeing from Liggins except for his corner 3 that sealed the Elite 8 victory over North Carolina circa 2011.
When Liggins or Kidd-Gilchrist didn’t have the ball you could bet that it was in the hands of Brandon Knight or John Wall. Prior to the game Knight told Wall that he wouldn’t let him get 40pts which Wall obviously took as a personal challenge. Wall showed off his improved jumper, spin moves, and cross overs doing his best Kyrie Iriving impression a la this years NBA rising stars game (sorry Brandon Knight, but it had to be said). Not to be outdone, Knight played his usual game consisting of great ball handling and outstanding perimeter shooting.
This years game while full of star power seemed to have lacked the energy and enthusiasm of last years alumni game. The most exciting moment (based on crowd reaction) was a half court buzzer beater thrown up by Anthony Davis to send the game to half time. For the sake of time the game clock was never stopped on a dead ball until 6 minutes were left in the game and Coach Cal made his way to the scorers table to grab the mic and announce to the former players to take this seriously and play some ball for the rest of the game. Immediately we saw Patrick Patterson and Terrence Jones begin fighting for position on the block, and more defense for just a few short minutes.
Two players who suited up and had planned on playing but couldn’t because of contract negotiations were DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe who took on coaching roles and participated in a few other unplanned activities like a t-shirt toss and manning a camera on the baseline.
All in all the game achieved exactly what John Calipari wanted it to; raise a ton of money for charity and show recruits that if you come play for Kentucky (even only for one year) you will have a fan base who will forever cheer you on and making you a Big Blue Legend.
Other players in attendance but not playing: Joe Crawford, Kenny Walker, Nerlens Noel.