Hours before losing at Robert Morris, Kentucky had to practice at a local high school

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Much has been made of the dramatic one-year dip of the Kentucky Wildcats’ basketball program, from a national champion to a first round departure from the NIT. While the emphasis in that final chapter has been focused on Kentucky’s poor play at Robert Morris -- which hosted the game because the Wildcats had already booked their own home arena -- perhaps it should start a bit earlier.

Kentucky stars peruse the halls of Moon Area High — Twitter
Kentucky stars peruse the halls of Moon Area High — Twitter

Like where the Wildcats had their final shootaround, for instance.

As brought to Prep Rally’s attention by MaxPreps, the Wildcats were forced to hold their pre-NIT practice Moon Township (Pa.) Moon Area High, the alma mater of one John Calipari. The Wildcats were pictured entering the school by students, all of whom were gawking at the top recruits in the class of 2012 just as those recruits were in turn staring at the trophies in the Moon Area hallways.

What happened next was a brief practice in the Moon Area gymnasium. What happened after that was more befitting the Moon Area varsity squad heading out to face off against a college team, as Robert Morris rolled to an early lead and then held off the Wildcats for an upset of epic proportions.

Naturally, Kentucky’s showing won’t necessarily encourage other top flight programs to make an impromptu pit stop at Moon Area. Then again, if Kentucky hadn’t assumed that it would be a shoo-in for the Big Dance, it probably would have enjoyed home comforts and a much more favorable build up to what should have been a relative stroll in the postseason park.

Either way, Moon Area can always claim to have played a small role in one of the biggest upsets in NIT history, with the Wildcats heading back to Kentucky stunned hours after nearby teens were starstruck to get a glimpse of them in the first place.

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