The University of Kentucky hosted ESPN for its weekly “College GameDay” show in advance of Saturday night’s basketball showdown between the fourth-ranked Wildcats and No. 2 Kansas in Rupp Arena.
UK fans packed into one side of the lower arena for the TV presentation, conducted on a stage on the Rupp Arena floor, on Saturday morning. Doors opened at 9 a.m., and the show began at 11. UK officials estimated the crowd at 4,000. For comparison, some previous “GameDay” appearances in Rupp drew crowds of 22,144 (2010) and 15,087 (2013).
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Kentucky Coach John Calipari paid a visit to the set for a nine-minute segment, joining ESPN personalities Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Jay Williams and Seth Greenberg. The “GameDay” show included a feature on UK freshman Malik Monk.
“He’s probably got more of a green light than some of the other guys had,” Calipari said of Monk, the team’s leading scorer. “He is a unique athlete. He’s special in that his mind is quick. He can react to stuff quick. He’s got an energy and a spirit about him.”
The fans got a jolt early when analyst Jay Williams said Monk and De’Aaron Fox would someday be considered the best backcourt combination in Kentucky basketball history.
Saturday marked the first “College GameDay” appearance in Rupp Arena since the 2013-14 season.
Kentucky will not have to wait long for another game involving “GameDay.” The ESPN show will originate from Gainesville, Fla., next Saturday. UK plays at Florida that evening.