- Just one day after being tabbed the No. 1 team in America, the Kentucky Wildcats suffered a brutal 67-64 loss to the Evansville Purple Aces at Rupp Arena.
- As if to add insult to injury, Kentucky paid $US90,000 for the mid-major program to travel to Lexington for the game.
- The Purple Aces are not an exceptional mid-major program by any means. They finished last season with an 11-21 record and came into Tuesday night’s matchup as 25-point underdogs.
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Losing to an unranked opponent right after being voted the top team in the country is rough, and doing so on your home floor is rougher.
But even rougher still is losing to an unranked opponent on your home floor after paying that team to play the game.
Just one day after being tabbed the No. 1 team in America, the Kentucky Wildcats suffered a brutal 67-64 loss to the Evansville Purple Aces at Rupp Arena. The loss marks perhaps the biggest college basketball upset since the Virginia Cavaliers – the No. 1 overall seed in the 2018 NCAA tournament – lost to the 16-seed UMBC Retrievers in the opening round of March Madness.
To make matters worse for John Calipari’s squad, the program paid a whopping $US90,000 to host Evansville – a mid-major Division I school that plays in the Missouri Valley Conference. According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, it is fairly customary for Blue Bloods and the like to pay top dollar for its early-season competition. The Purple Aces received the same amount of money to play Illinois and Xavier last year.
But in the cases of the Fighting Illini and the Musketeers, the payment came in exchange for a win.
“That’s kind of the going market when the bigger schools are paying,” Spencer said. “They’re right around $US80,000 to $US90,000, though some of them will actually run up to $US100,000 if they have a bigger stadium and really need a very specific date. It wasn’t super generous; it was right in the ballpark and we utilise that money for the most part to cover our operating costs.”
The Purple Aces are not an exceptional mid-major program by any means. They finished last season with an 11-21 record and came into Tuesday night’s matchup as 25-point underdogs.
Still, a handful of veteran players led Evansville to victory in Lexington, while Kentucky sported a roster filled with young, inexperienced talent. Though the Wildcats will almost certainly take a serious hit in next week’s AP Poll, growing pains are very much par for the course within Calipari’s one-and-done system.
evansville basketball is back pic.twitter.com/yT933bIZ8R
— Harry Lyles Jr. (@harrylylesjr) November 13, 2019
Kentucky does not face a ranked opponent until mid-December and will try its hand against two Power Five opponents – the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Utah Utes – the week prior.
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