Madness

Daimion Collins throws down a dunk during Big Blue Madness on Friday night at Rupp Arena.

Basketball is back in the Bluegrass.

The University of Kentucky men’s and women’s basketball teams were officially introduced during Big Blue Madness Friday night at Rupp Arena.

Kentucky forward and reigning college basketball Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe didn’t participate in an eight-minute-scrimmage. Tshiebwe had a minor procedure performed on his knee earlier this week.

Tshiebwe introduced Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari, who spoke briefly while being surrounded by his former Kentucky players.

“I really like my team,” Calipari said. “This is a group I’d say you’ll have fun watching.”

Illinois State transfer Antonio Reeves won the 3-point shooting contest, defeating teammates CJ Fredrick, Jacob Toppin and Chris Livingston. Toppin won the slam dunk competition.

Even with the absence of Tshiebwe, the fans were eager to see the Wildcats. Toni Davis said she hit the jackpot when she scored tickets for Big Blue Madness.

Davis, 30, of Winchester, was in attendance for the annual event for the second time in four years and was glad to be part of the crowd.

“It’s like winning the lottery,” said Davis, who sat on the last row of bleacher seats in Section 224 with her husband Nathan.

“We didn’t know we were going to be this high, but we’re grateful and thankful that we got them,” Toni said.

Nathan agreed.

“This is a great view,” he said. “This is the first time we are going to see what the team is going to be able to do this year.”

Toni waited for 45 minutes for tickets earlier this month and even had time to eat before getting the official notification from Ticketmaster.

“I went to Dairy Queen to get breakfast while I was waiting in tickets,” she said.

The couple not only got their first glimpse of the 2022-23 squad, but also are celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary.

“This is our big event of the weekend,” Toni said. “We love the entertainment and everybody is just so excited.”

Kentucky women’s coach Kyra Elzy arrived on a motorcycle with a motorcade before being introduced to the crowd. Former Kentucky Miss Basketball and Ryle standout Maddie Scherr did her own version of the “John Wall dance” during player introductions.