The Bluegrass Boys, a University of Kentucky alumni basketball team seeded No. 1 in The Basketball Tournament, lost its first-round game to a No. 16 seed and will not get a chance to collect on a $2 million prize that ultimately goes to the tournament winner.
A No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but that didn’t discourage the Jackson (Tenn.) Underdawgs, a group of guys who have “played together since middle school,” according to the event’s website. The Underdawgs pulled an 87-78 upset at the Shannon Center in Chicago to advance to a second-round Midwest Regional game on Sunday against Always A Brave, a Bradley University alumni team.
Former UK point guard Ramel Bradley led the short-handed Bluegrass Boys with 19 points and five rebounds in 32 minutes. With just seven players, fatigue was a factor down the stretch.
Former UK guard Kevin Galloway added 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Perry Stevenson had 11 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots.
The game was streamed live on Facebook, and the audio picked up some colorful language during the game — players talking trash, pleading their cases with officials, and conversing on the bench.
Bradley kept up a running dialogue throughout the game with anyone who would listen. After a cross-over dribble that caused his defender to slip and fall down, Bradley chirped, “I’m gonna put that on my IG (Instagram).” Later, during a Bluegrass Boys run, he told an opponent, “We’re coming back tomorrow.”
When Bluegrass Boys center Brian Williams, a former Tennessee player, was fouled attempting a fast-break layup and landed hard to the floor, a teammate objected, saying, “Hey, that’s a guy’s professional career you’re messing with.”
During a timeout, Bluegrass Boys Coach and former Kentucky standout Derek Anderson emphasized a mismatch his team was not exploiting. Pointing to 5-foot-4 Underdawgs guard Anthony Sampson, who played in college at Freed-Hardman University, Anderson begged ex-Cat Joe Crawford to “post up the little guy.”
Underdawgs General Manager Darius DeBerry said of the upset, “We wanted to put Jackson on the map. This means a lot for Jackson, Tenn.”
A replay of the game is available at Whistle Sports’ Facebook page.