UNCASVILLE, CT - It was a bit of a strange experience, knowing that I was heading to Mohegan Sun with no intent of gambling or meeting up with any friends. Living in the area, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods have typically birthday destinations for friends who are turning or have recently turned 21. Traveling to the casino to do something other than partaking in the expected activities felt a little weird.
Once the game started, the feeling didn't quite go away.
Personally, I have no affiliation with either team. I have lived and gone to school in New England, and both Kentucky and Old Dominion rarely travel up north. I recently read Blayne Scofield's account of the Buffalo-Princeton game he attended, and share many of his feelings being an unbiased spectator (I doubt I could express such feelings nearly as eloquently).
On top of my relationship (or lack thereof) with each of the teams, the game experience was also strange. Attendance was sparse (I was one of five people sitting in my section), and a majority of the fans that were in attendance were rooting for Kentucky, despite the fact that the game was being played 800+ miles away from Lexington. It further reinforced the idea that those of us following this site are in the minority amongst college basketball fans. The PA announcer didn't help to make things any less uncomfortable, once exclaiming that a player had "no regard for human life" after throwing down an emphatic dunk.
The game itself played out in a way that was fitting for a game being played in a casino. As soon as you step into a casino, you know the odds are against you. Even the games with the best of odds for the visitor, like craps or blackjack, allow the house to hold the advantage.
It made sense, then, that the players for Kentucky wore their home white jerseys as they defeated Old Dominion 62-52, in front of a crowd where most were rooting for the house to win.
The Monarchs caught fire to start and got out to an early lead. Kent Bazemore was brilliant defensively, outmuscling and outworking the Wildcats on various occasions. Likewise, Chris Cooper looked like the best all-around big man on the court, scoring in traffic in the post, and commanding the boards.
But the game never ends when you want it to. You always end up giving that money back.
The house took its money back with about 90 seconds left in the first half, and despite pulling to within one point late in the second half, Old Dominion couldn't complete the comeback.
In a last ditch effort to try to take some sort of win home with me, I sat down at a slot machine on my way back to my car. But just like the Monarchs I had just watched, I couldn't get the best of the house. It really does always win.
KENTUCKY 62, OLD DOMINION 52 11/20/2011
OLD DOMINION 3-2 (0-0) -- C. Brown 8-14 6-6 23; N. Wright 4-10 1-2 9; K. Bazemore 2-11 5-6 10; C. Cooper 7-17 3-6 17; M. De Lancey 0-6 0-0 0; T. Iliadis 4-9 0-0 11; D. Batten 0-0 2-3 2; B. Key 1-2 0-0 3; J. Pimentel 0-0 0-0 0; A. Larsen 0-1 0-0 0; S. Rogers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-56 11-17 52. KENTUCKY 4-0 (0-0) -- T. Jones 3-9 0-0 6; M. Kidd-Gilchrist 6-13 0-2 13; D. Lamb 2-7 2-3 8; M. Teague 3-5 0-1 6; D. Miller 4-8 5-5 13; A. Davis 4-6 3-5 11; K. Wiltjer 1-4 0-1 3; E. Vargas 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 24-53 10-17 62.
Three-point goals: ODU 5-15 (K. Bazemore 1-6; M. De Lancey 0-1; T. Iliadis 3-5; A. Larsen 0-1; B. Key 1-2), UK 4-13 (D. Miller 0-3; D. Lamb 2-5; M. Kidd-Gilchrist 1-2; M. Teague 0-1; K. Wiltjer 1-2); Rebounds: ODU 31 (C. Cooper 12), UK 41 (A. Davis 9); Assists: ODU 8 (K. Bazemore 2), UK 10 (D. Miller 5); Total Fouls -- ODU 19, UK 17; Fouled Out: ODU-None; UK-A. Davis.