The highlight of the day was Zvonimir Ivisic making his college debut after being ruled eligible by the NCAA. He then went off for 13 points, five rebounds, three blocks, two steals, and two assists in a 105-96 win over the Dawgs.
Making the game even more special was the 1983-84 Final Four team being honored at halftime of the game, and one former player had some fun banter about the team and John Calipari.
While at Kentucky, Sam Bowie wore No. 31, and that number has since been retired. During his time here, Bowie came close to winning a national title after Kentucky went on to lose to Georgetown in the ‘84 Final Four.
When Bowie was talking during halftime to the fans, he mentioned how he wanted to be called Big Z due to the performance Ivisic was having, but also jokingly mentioned that this year Kentucky needed to win the NCAA Championship, and if they didn’t, it was due to John Calipari.
“Based on the roster we have with Coach Calipari, I don’t know if he’s ever been blamed for anything, but if we don’t win a championship this year, it’s his fault.”
"I used to be known around the Commonwealth as 'Big Bo' but (now) I want to be known as Big Z... Thank you on behalf of the 84 team!"— UK Sports Network (@UKSportsNetwork) January 21, 2024
- Sam Bowie pic.twitter.com/2IGOJniQNs
As for Calipari, he knew the joke was coming and was fine with Bowie saying it.
“He told me he was going to say that,” Calipari told the media after the game. “I said, go ahead, everybody else is throwing darts, you might as well be in there, too. If he watched the second half, I don’t think he would be saying it.”
Although Bowie was joking, many fans are ready to see Kentucky bring home No. 9 after the last time they won it all was during the 2011-12 season with Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and others.
So far this season, Kentucky is now 14-3 and 4-1 in the SEC. They are also ranked No. 6 in the new AP and Coaches Polls.