World-record crowd sees 'Cats/Spartans

Updated: December 13, 2003, 7:38 PM ET
Associated Press

DETROIT -- A basketball world-record crowd of 78,129 attended Kentucky's (No. 2 ESPN/USA Today; No/ 8 AP) 79-74 victory over Michigan State (No. 20 ESPN/USA Today; No. 21 AP) on Saturday at Ford Field.

The sport's previous attendance record was 75,000, set in 1951 when the Harlem Globetrotters played at Olympic Stadium in Berlin.

The NCAA attendance record is 68,112, set in 1990 at the Louisiana Superdome when Notre Dame played LSU. The NBA record is 62,046 for a Chicago-Atlanta game at the Georgia Dome in 1998.

Ford Field is home to the NFL's Detroit Lions.

Mike Mackalus, a junior at Michigan State majoring in hospitality business, was wrapped up in the hoopla while sitting in the "Izzone," the Spartans' student cheering section that was behind one basket and blocked the view of many.

"It's so cool to see an event like this with close to 80,000 people and the energy that's here," Mackalus said. "I may never see anything like this in my whole life."

Lauren Cassidy, a sophomore education major at Michigan State, arrived at Ford Field more than four hours before the scheduled 4 p.m. tipoff.

"I got here at 11:45 to get the best spot to stand. And we're breaking the world attendance record. That's awesome," she said.

Carry Conklin didn't mind sitting behind the "Izzone."

"I can only see the players from the waist up. That's OK though. It's the experience that matters today," the senior advertising major said. "Besides we can always watch it on the big screen TV."

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press