Early this evening I went to see something that had not happened in just over a hundred years. Crosstown potential rivals Transylvania University, of which I am an alum, met the steeped in tradition University of Kentucky on the basketball court. Obviously I went to support Transy, but still I have always enjoyed Wildcat basketball. And clearly, as one might expect in this match-up, I fully expected Transy to be short on the size front, outgunned speed and ability, and just generally at a much lower level of competition – hence the nature of the exhibition game.
A little bit of background is probably in order. The teams, back around the turn of the previous century regular met on the basketball floor. This of course was when Transy was around one hundred twenty and UK was an almost brand new baby to the scene. There is a lot more history there, like how the law school at UK was founded primarily around the found books from the Transy law-school and a few other things, but lets talk basketball history. The two teams, prior to last night, had met fifteen times, with an exactly (and amazing to any modern UK fan) even split of seven games each and tie. In that era, one noted win by Transy was forty something to two final score. No, that is a not a typing error and you probably read it correctly. That all ended in 1911, the last time the teams met until this evening.
Clearly, the basketball programs of the two schools have had clearly distinct paths since the last meeting. UK is probably the most noted basketball program at the collegiate level, and if not they certainly are top four. Transy on the other hand, occasionally as a good year and will make a run at things in the spring, but let’s be clear – we are not even talking NCAA here. I fully expected a doubling up on Transy by UK in the score department, which is what happened. However, a couple of things of note about the game really stood out.
First, was the fact that there was a lot of Crimson (Transylvania’s color) scattered throughout the epicenter of UK blue at Rupp Arena. Even more impressive was that UK fans cheered fairly loudly when Transylvania was announced and the starting line-up took the floor. That was truly a nice thing and much appreciated by the players, who have probably never been on such a big stage (excluding maybe a run in a state tournament) and likely never will again.
Second up was the awesome start that the Transy team got off to in the game. Four to zero at one point, than eleven to four. And even at around the midway point of the first half a respectable twenty-one to twenty-two. From there, UK went on a run though and the Transy team, who clearly came to play started to show a bit of how much they had played above their level. As the UK team started to wake up, Transy dropped off that peak just a little bit and the game went on to a major blowout as everyone expected. But that first ten minutes, you have to give the Transy team a big atta-boy for the way they played.
And in the end, most Transylvania basketball supporters love a good UK team too. Ã‚Â Fully realizing the TU team was outmatched, most left happy seeing the start of what promises to be an awesome UK season as well.
** – Image is Transylvania Logo.