An upset bug infecting college football all season long has proven to be contagious, spreading into the new college hoops season. The bug crept into Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky on Wednesday night and made almost 20,000 Kentucky fans sick as they watched tiny Gardner-Webb University, defeat the Wildcats 84-68 straight up in the second round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. The winner moves on to the advanced rounds, the loser goes home. Or as for Kentucky, they stay home. At tip-off, online sportsbook SBGglobal.com had Kentucky chalked in as a prohibitive 26-point favorite.
The tournament had been set up to send four top programs – No. 3 Memphis, Connecticut, Oklahoma and Kentucky to New York next week to play in the semifinals.
However, instead of the Wildcats, Gardner-Webb, which finished 9-21 last season and tied for seventh in the Atlantic Sun Conference, will play the winner of Thursday night's game between Buffalo and Connecticut.
This result will undoubtedly end any honeymoon period between the Kentucky faithful and head coach Billy Gillispie, brought in on April 6, 2007 as a replacement for Tubby Smith who had moved on to coach Minnesota.
Gardner-Webb University, a Baptist affiliated school, has an enrollment of about 4,000 and is located in Boiling Springs, N.C about 50 miles west of Charlotte.
Now it’s Gillispie’s turn to hear the booing and constant second guessing, something that automatically comes with the man sitting in the head coach’s job at Kentucky.
"Personally, I think everyone was looking forward to the New York trip, and no one really thought much of Gardner-Webb," said UK freshman Patrick Patterson. "I just think everyone was focused on New York and UConn, Oklahoma, Memphis, the teams up there. We really didn't bring it like we should have."
Throughout the post-game news conference Gillispie took blame for the loss.
"They just whipped us, and the guy that's to blame for that is me," he said. "No question about it, it's all on my shoulders. We just got our tails kicked."
"It's catastrophic, believe me," Gillispie continued. "It's not pretty at all. But it is over with, and you hope that you make a positive out of it and you gain something from it and you go on from here."
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