Remembering the 2004 Season – Road Warriors

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The 2004 Kentucky game is one of my all-time favorite memories as a student. We did end up losing that game, and it was perhaps the biggest heartbreaker of the Stansbury era outside of losing to Butler in ’03 or in 2010 to UK in the SEC Tournament, but the electric atmosphere in the Hump and around that game is something I’ll never forget.

Christmas break had finally ended so school was back to session on a Monday. The UK game was on Tuesday. MSU had advanced to #20 in the polls, and being undefeated you knew the excitement was there. Then I went to get my student ticket (back then you went to the Bryan Building every Monday to get your tickets for the home games for that week). The ticket window opened at 8:00 – I got there at 8:00. The line was at least two football fields long. I was standing adjacent to the Sanderson Center and the Hump and was in line.

With all the excitement, and with it just being the first day of class, that line was incredible. It was cold too. Somehow I ended up with a ticket. And the next 36 hours would be spent thinking about nothing but the possibilities in this huge game (remember, at this time our football team had just gone 2-10 and college basketball was a very popular sport).

Keeping in mind the lines of Monday morning, my friends and I got to the game four hours early to make sure we had a good seat. The gates didn’t open until 1.5 hours prior to tip-off, so we were very cold for a while. We were also just a handful of people away from the door to get in the Hump. Once those doors opened it was a mad dash to get to the best seats. We didn’t quite get mid-court but they were pretty solid seats no doubt.

It was one of the first white outs I can remember MSU ever having. The entire place was white – and loud. Real loud.

Kentucky got out to an 18 point 1st half lead. It looked like the 12-0 start was just a mirage, but then the Dawgs came charging back. With two minutes remaining in the game we had a 64-63 lead.

Both teams traded buckets and it was 66-65 MSU. Frazier came to the line with a chance to extend the lead with :31 left, but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Roberts got the rebound but he too missed the free throw. Kentucky got the ball back and everyone’s heart was in their throat.

With :02.5 left, UK was set to inbound the ball near their bench. Cliff Hawkins lobbed it to Chuck Hayes near the rim but Roberts got a hand on it. For a split second it seemed like State had held on defense until Erick Daniels charged in with a buzzer-beating tip-in. Oh, the humanity.

The Hump went from it’s highest volume ever to complete silence in 2.5 seconds. It was a sickening feeling. But despite the agony of that close defeat, Bulldog nation knew this team was for real.