Well it is time for our first match report in the UK Basketball "Greatest Player Tournament" and boy was it a doozy. Anthony Epps and Richie Farmer....two Kentucky school boy legends battled it out on the hardwood in a game that will be remembered by all. The fictional recap is below and the results of the actual voting totals is at the bottom of the page.
Rupp Arena, Lexington
The first match of the much anticipated attempt to find the Greatest Kentucky basketball player in history got underway tonight in front of a capacity crowd this evening, and it lived up to its billing. In one corner was Anthony Epps....he of the 24 inch pythons and notoriously clutch shooting. Epps is best remembered for his crucial shot to send the 1997 Kentucky team into overtime in the Championship game against Arizona and his supporters packed Rupp Arena to show that Marion County loves its homies. In the other corner was Richie Farmer, fresh off his 300th consecutive made free throw in warmups, sporting a thick black moustache, a buzzcut that showed no signs of ending and a Kentucky Department of Agriculture hat that seemed a bit inhibiting. Packing Rupp Arena were the many legions of folks from the Clay County hollers, filing the rafters with pro-Richie paraphenalia and stopping only occasionally to go to the concession stands and attempt to purchase lottery tickets.
The Rupp Arena venue was picked due to it being the site of both players' state championship victories. Each player was allowed one "coach" for the game and both brought back memories with their selections. Epps brought out Elton Scott, who gave a pre-game speech to the crowd where he expressed his admiration for Epps and promised that contrary to what many assume, he is not bitter about how his college career turned out. While yes, some thought he was better than Anthony in high school and he ended up at Louisville, having a non-descript career and quickly forgotten while Anthony ended up the starting point guard for the best team in Kentucky and maybe college basketball history, Elton is still happy.....he had a great psychology 101 class at Louisville and that made it all worthwhile.
Richie brought out the legendary Bobby Keith, who after stumbling onto the court, immediately punched Elton Scott in the face, picked up a chair and hurled it down the court and yelled at Richie, "you are no Russ Chadwell, thats for damn sure." He was immediately escorted off the premises.
The game itself lived up to the hype with each player showcasing the skills that led them into this elite tournament. Anthony Epps came out swinging early....driving to the basket with his head down, muscling into Richie's doughy chest and converting two three point plays the old fashioned way, as Richie sucked air early. But in classic Farmer style, he slowly lulled Epps to sleep, keeping the game within reach until he could get the three pointers to fall. Epps went into the half with a 32-25 lead, but with Farmer having only hit one three pointer, the Clay County fans who were not outside smoking, knew that a comeback would soon ensue.
The second half was all Farmer, as he put on a show in Rupp that unfortunately turned Anthony Epps into the 2006 version of Allan Houston. Farmer hit five consecutive three pointers from a variety of angles in the middle of the second half, stopping after the fifth one in order to trim his moustache. Epps, looking frustrated, began to try and outphysical Farmer, drawing two offensive fouls that caused former Coach Rick Pitino watching in the crowd to instinctively tell Tony Delk to please learn the point guard position so he could take him out. As the game drew to a close, Farmer became tired, but found a second burst of energy when John Pelphrey threw him a can of Skoal, which allowed Farmer to get the "second wind" that he needed. Epps was forced to foul late, and Farmer nailed the free throws, preserving a somewhat surprising 74-67 win.
After the game, Farmer got on the house microphone and told the fans it was the best feeling he had since the Cats beat "Ale-S-U" and he curiously reminded all of the fans to support Kentucky's farmers. He exited to loud bursts of applause, while Epps exited through the back door, once again underappreciated for his efforts. After the game, the Post-game call in shows lit up with calls asking why Farmer did not get to play more during the game, comments that completely baffled the hosts.
Richie Farmer with the victory, moved to the second round where he will face Dan Issel in a matchup that caused Farmer to comment, "well it aint always who is the biggest or the fastest......ah who am I kidding, he is going to slaughter me....but remember that our Kentucky farmers slaughter hogs as well and that should be supported.
Here are the final ballot picks:
Matt Jones ---- Kentucky Sports Radio Richie Farmer
Larry Vaught ---- Danville Advocate Richie Farmer
Steve John ------ Kentucky Sports Report Anthony Epps
Duncan Cavanah ---- KSR Radio guru Anthony Epps
Chris Mosley ---- Ky Basketball expert Richie Farmer
Fan Selections ---- Richie Farmer