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Kentucky men’s and women’s basketball hosts 2023 Big Blue Madness

Travis Fannon
Kentucky head coach John Calipari greets Demarcus Cousins on stage during Big Blue Madness on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

Kentucky men’s and women’s basketball hosted the 2023 edition of Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023.

The event kicked off with the women’s side of things, seeing the players have their entrances to the songs of their choosing after some early fan contests.

UK then played a video package celebrating 50 years of the women’s basketball program, which was then highlighted as prior coaches Sue Feamster, Sharon Fanning, Bernadette Maddox, Mickie DeMoss and Matthew Mitchell ceremoniously passed a torch to current head coach Kyra Elzy.

Kentucky womens basketball former coaches pass the torch to Kyra Elzy during Big Blue Madness on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff (Travis Fannon)

The women were then split into two teams with the BLUE team being represented by Amiya Jenkins, Zennia Thomas, Janae Walker, Saniah Tyler and Maddie Scherr while the WHITE team was represented by Brooklynn Miles, Cassidy Rowe, Emma King, Jordy Griggs and Eniyah Russell. Ajae Petty was present in a WHITE jersey and Nyah Leveretter was in a BLUE jersey, despite neither participating in the competitions.

The WHITE team won a shooting competition to warm up for the 3-point contest.

Scherr was the eventual winner of the women’s 3-point contest, scoring 18 points in the first round, leading to a final against King, who notched 17 in the first round. Rowe and Tyler were eliminated in the first round with 15 and five respectively.

In the finals, Scherr scored 15 points, which was enough to defeat King’s 13 for the victory.

The actual exhibition would be a lopsided affair with the BLUE team earning a 20-6 victory on the back of nine points, all from beyond the arc, from Jenkins. Thomas also recorded a highlight of her own, notching a block to go along with her four points.

In the intermission between the men’s and women’s events, both the UK dance and cheer teams performed routines on the court.

With seats filling up for the men’s portion, UK highlighted players from Kentucky history all in attendance, including Tyler Ulis, Marquis Teague, Dominique Hawkins, Jeff Sheppard and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

UK then debuted a video package to the tune of “Dream On” by Aerosmith before the men’s players made their entrances on stage.

With all the players out on the court, DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins made his entrance before introducing head coach John Calipari as the “GOAT” and telling fans to “put some respect on his name.”

Kentucky Wildcats legend DeMarcus Cousins strikes a pose during Big Blue Madness on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023, inside Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

With all the players and Calipari on the court, another video package, this time featuring former Wildcats currently in the NBA who were unable to attend the event, played. It featured the likes of Tyrese Maxey, Malik Monk, Karl Anthony-Towns, Anthony Davis, John Wall, Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, PJ Washington and Oscar Tshiebwe, the last of which promised UK fans that “No. 9 is ahead of us.”

Up next was the men’s 3-point contest, which was won by Antonio Reeves, making him the second Wildcat in UK history to win back-to-back 3-point contests.

Reeves won round one with 26 points, being met by Reed Sheppard in the final, who notched 21 in round one. Tre Mitchell, D.J. Wagner and Justin Edwards were all eliminated in round one with 20, 17 and 15 respectively.

In the finals, Reeves reigned supreme with 20 points, beating out Sheppard’s 18.

Kicking off the dunk contest, Jordan Burks and Joey Hart were set to face off before Edwards threw his hat in the ring as well.

Hart was picked as the winner by the fans in attendance, making him the third unique trophy winner of the night.

Finally, it was time for the men’s exhibition contest between the BLUE (Mitchell, Hart, Robert Dillingham, Brennan Canada and Sheppard) and WHITE (Reeves, Wagner, Burks, Edwards and Walker Horn) teams. Zvonimir Ivišić, Grant Darbyshire, Kareem Watkins, Ugonna Onyenso, Adou Thiero and Aaron Bradshaw all did not compete.

In the end, after the score was not kept for half the exhibition, the WHITE team was successful 29-24.

The event was then concluded with a fan vote deciding the men’s and women’s MVPs with Reeves and Scherr winning their respective awards.

Calipari thanked the fans in attendance for making the trip before attempting to sell them on the Blue-White game at Northern Kentucky next Saturday, promising the debut of “Big Z.”

The Blue-White game will tip off at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 21, from Truist Arena on the campus of NKU.

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Cole Parke, Sports Editor

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