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November 24, 2010

Kentucky result not what UW fans had in mind

Editor's note: Jake Willard is a senior at the University of Washington who is interning for UDubSports.com this winter. He watched the Kentucky game on campus with Huskies fans and offered this perspective while watching the Huskies lose to Kentucky, 74-67, Tuesday night:

University of Washington fans got exactly what they had been waiting for since the beginning of the season: A chance to play Kentucky on the national stage.

Ever since Kentucky and coach John Calipari were able to put Terrence Jones in a Wildcats uniform after he previously publicly announced he was coming to Washington, Huskies fans have wanted nothing more than to take down Kentucky and get their revenge.

As a current UW student, I was excited to watch the game with my friends on campus, and have the opportunity to get a feel for just how much they dislike Kentucky. Before the game even started, anti-Calipari and anti-Jones sentiments were flying around the room.

Even though the school's two campuses are over 1,500 miles apart, the game felt like a matchup between two cross-state rivals.

The Huskies got off to a quick start, lifting the enthusiasm in the room, and getting the Huskies fans to start believing that the UW came to Maui with the intention of dominating the competition on its way to the championship.

Then, Kentucky went on its huge run to take a big lead on the Huskies. Kentucky's run was led by a freshman, Brandon Knight, who looked unstoppable as he tore his way through the veteran backcourt defense of Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton.

But the worst part for Huskies' fans was watching Terrence Jones dominate the UW on the boards.

Jones was so impressive on the boards during the game (he had 17 rebounds) that we had to make the rule that no one was allowed to mention how close he was to playing for the Huskies this season.

Jones was able to use his 6-foot-9, 230-pound frame to clean up the Wildcats' misses and create scoring opportunities. As much as it pained at least these Husky fans to say, Jones looked good, and he proved to be the difference in the game for Kentucky.

The Huskies were able to climb their way back into the game, and they even took the lead at halftime. But in the second half, Kentucky showed it had a sizable rebounding advantage over the Huskies.

Also, the officiating began to look a little suspect. Husky fans were outraged at the number of calls going in Kentucky's favor. One of my friends is completely convinced that all of Calipari's games are rigged in his favor. That may be an exaggeration, but it's clear that UW fans don't like coach Calipari and are willing to believe he's capable of any conspiracy, though that's clearly an emotional sentiment not based in reality.

Washington kept it close throughout, but eventually Kentucky pulled away for the win, much to the dismay of Husky fans back home. This game seemed to hurt more than just a typical loss, this was a blown opportunity to reverse the pain from losing Terrence Jones to Kentucky and prove that the Huskies were better off without him.

Instead, Tuesday night's loss only poured some salt on the wound for Husky fans, and added fuel to the fire of a strong dislike toward Kentucky.

After having a great day with classes canceled for a rare snow day on campus Tuesday, UW students capped their night off with disappointment after watching Terrence Jones and Kentucky hand the Huskies their first loss of the season.

This may have only been the second meeting ever between UW and Kentucky, but it's clear a rivalry does exist and the the only way Husky fans will get a chance for a little payback is if these schools meet up again.

Of course, that could happen.


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