February 23, 2013
Digger Phelps grabbed the microphone at 8:50 a.m. and addressed the Kentucky crowd, all alone at the center of Rupp Arena.
"Listen to me," Phelps said, an early acknowledgment of the inevitable.
A chorus of boos greeted him.
"Kentucky fans don't forget. They also didn't let up.
I don't think Digger minds a few boos," Jay Bilas said.
Phelps was unavailable for comment after the show.
The phrase Phelps used a year ago to admonish fans when GameDay went to Vanderbilt was turned on him Saturday. He tried to get on their good side from the start, telling the fans that they would be the reason UK "took a step toward a (tournament) bid."
Nice sentiment, but it wouldn't be enough for the 15,087 fans at Rupp Arena (the largest crowd of the year and the second-largest of all time, behind UK's 22,144 from 2010).
Multiple fans used the catchphrase on their shirts or on signs. A "Listen to me" chant sprung up from the crowd during taping. Host Rece Davis even led off the show with, "Listen to me -- when it comes to fan passion, Big Blue Nation, you are the best." Fans took advantage of quiet moments to heckle him (like the one from the top deck who screamed "Jay Bilas, you're awesome! Digger -- you still suck!") Phelps, at one point, blew kisses to the crowd while they chanted at him, seemingly embracing the villain role.
"I said, he'll have them eating out of his hand in about five minutes," Rece Davis said. "And he pretty much did. Digger is awesome with the crowd. He's got great respect for Kentucky and this place. He gives us a lot of energy in terms of being able to work with the crowd. He had fun with it. He enjoys it. He's great."
So Kentucky fans made the most of GameDay returning to Rupp Arena.
They made Digger listen to them.