WKU-UK alumni game provides Homecoming for former Toppers

WKU alum guard Courtney Lee makes an between-the-legs dunk late in the Big Red vs. Big Blue alumni in Diddle Arena on Tuesday night. The red team defeated the blue team 112-97.

Cole Claybourn

Tuesday night brought back plenty of memories for

those donning red in the “Big Red vs. Big Blue” alumni game at

Diddle Arena.

It was a chance for former WKU players to run through

the tunnel and onto the floor in front of fans one more time.

“I had butterflies the whole time — on my way over

here, getting dressed, then running out there,” former Topper and

current Houston Rocket Courtney Lee said. “Being under those bright

lights in Diddle, it felt good.”

It was a rare opportunity for fans to see past WKU

players square off against past Kentucky players in a charity game

that featured four NBA players and four starters from WKU’s 2008

Sweet 16 team.

Former Topper Ty Rogers organized the event to

benefit the WKU W-Club and Sharp Shooters Academy — a youth

foundation he and former Topper Anthony Winchester help


Once the game itself started, the product on the

floor resembled what fans might have seen during the 2008 season

from the Toppers.

Lee threw an alley-oop to Jeremy Evans early on in

the first quarter to set the tone for a game that featured a lot of

three-pointers and a lot of dunks — many of which came from


The red team led most of the way through the first

half until former UK player Bobby Perry made a dunk just before

half to give the blue team a 51-50 edge.

With the score close, the intensity picked up from

both sides. After a score, former UK player and current Rockets

teammate of Lee’s Chuck Hayes ran down the floor chanting “let’s


That’s when Lee caught fire— much like he did

throughout his career at WKU, where he left tied with Jim

McDaniels, who coached the red team, as the school’s all-time


Lee led all scorers with 36 points, including four

made three-pointers, thanks to some sideline motivation from


“He just told me to pick up the intensity,” Lee said.

“It was fun, but we wanted to win this game. It was a pride game at

the end of the day.”

Ravi Moss, who finished as the blue team’s leading

scorer with 34 points, decided to get in on the competitiveness as


After Rogers committed a hard foul, Moss ran up the

court pleading for an intentional foul.

“You all are getting some home cookin’,” Moss said,

jokingly, to the WKU fans as he laid on the scorers table.

Former UK star and 2011 NBA Lottery pick Brandon

Knight, who was scheduled to play for the blue team until he

suffered an ankle sprain in a charity game last night, coached the

blue team. He too tried his best at pleading with an official, to

which the official replied, “I’ve got a red towel in my back


After that, everything seemed to go right for the red

team, as Evans, who took a career-high three three-point shots in a

2007 game against Gonzaga during his college career, drained his

only three point attempt of the night.

“I always tell people I can shoot it, I just don’t,”

he said. “Some guys don’t jump as high as I do, so I just use that

to help the team. I rebound, they shoot.”

Then with about three minutes left to play, the game

turned into a slam dunk contest. Evans jumped from near the elbow

and dunked left-handed over Chuck Hayes with nearly his entire arm

above the rim before he finished the dunk.

The red team walked away with a 112-97 win over the

blue team. 

“In a game like this, that’s what they come to see —

excitement, having fun,” Lee said. “We just wanted to get out there

give (the fans) a good time.”

Rogers said he was thrilled with the way the event

came together after just a little more than two weeks of


“The greatest thing is that it seemed like a great

experience for these fans,” he said. “Being with the guys that we

were together with for four year — just being with them was a great

experience. We all had a pretty amazing feeling when we ran out of

that tunnel again. It kind of brings back all kinds of


One of those memories was Rogers’ buzzer-beater in

the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament which sent WKU past

Drake and eventually to the Sweet 16.

When asked if he and Tyrone Brazelton, who started

for the red team, would consider recreating “The Shot,” Rogers said

the idea of that had been brought up several times.

“I think I only need to shoot that one once,” he

said. “People need to remember that the right way.”

Winchester, along with several other players on the

red team, said they hope this type of an event becomes an annual

outing, be it against UK players or just players from Kentucky in


“This year, obviously with the lockout it helped,” he

said. “This is something we would love to do. If we could have an

event like this, it would be great every year to get everyone back

in town.”

Rogers didn’t say for certain whether or not he’d

personally organize other similar event, but said this one ranked

right up there with “The Shot” in his all-time memories at WKU.

“Not just playing in the game, but these last few

days getting to spend time with guys that we’ve been best friends

there,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about to me — bringing all

the guys back, even the guys that are older.”