SOMERSET, Ky. -- The Union College men's basketball team unofficially opened their 2011-12 season on Tuesday night on a large stage, as they faced off with the Big Blue All-Stars, a traveling group of NBA players with ties to the Commonwealth.
The game was played in front of an overflow crowd at Pulaski County High School, and was also showed to a statewide television audience on the Wazoo Sports Network.
In the end, Union dropped the game 125-104, as current Sacramento King, and former Kentucky standout DeMarcus Cousins led the Big Blue All-Stars with 40 points. Regardless of the result, many lessons were learned by the young Bulldog team as they went toe-to-toe with some of the best basketball players in the world.
"We had a great time tonight" said head coach Sean Gillespie. "It was a great atmosphere in here. It was great to see where we're at, as we've only had 10 practices so far.
"The bottom line is, our players are going to remember this for as long as they live, and this was a great stage to show off our program and Union College."
In the first four minutes of action, the Big Blue All-Stars took control of the contest at the outset, racing out to a 19-7 lead. Union did tie things up right at the beginning of the game, as Ryan Young (Waynesburg, Ky.) broke away for a lay-in to make it 2-2 early on.
The Big Blue All-Stars then went on a 13-4 run over the next four minutes to take a 32-11 lead, then went on a 11-2 tear to open a 30-point lead at 43-13 with 7:22 left in the first half. The run continued for most of the half, as the Big Blue All-Stars led 61-39 at the break.
The squad was paced by Cousins who had 24 points in the first 20 minutes.
The lone bright spots for Union in the first half were made by Young, who had eight points, and freshman Tyler Wagner (Corbin, Ky.), who came off the bench and sank back-to-back three-pointers in his first action as a Bulldog, finishing the period with eight points, as well.
In the second half, Union came out with much more fire, outscoring the Big Blue All Stars 21-19 in the first six minutes of the period to cut the lead down to 80-60. The Big Blue All-Stars then put the game effectively out of reach over the next few minutes, eventually opening up a 93-68 lead.
The rest of the contest saw the All-Stars put on a show for the fans in attendance, notably by Morehead State alum Kenneth Faried (now a member of the Denver Nuggets) who finished off several punishing dunks, scoring 22 points on the night.
At the end of the night, Wagner continued his impressive play in the second half, scoring 18 points to lead the Bulldogs in a losing effort. Young finished with 14, while Brent Cork (Saginaw, Mich.) and Cody Miller (Barbourville, Ky.) each had 10 points to round out the Union double-digit scorers on the night.
Union also became the first team of the Big Blue All Stars' tour to break the 100-point barrier.
The Bulldogs officially open their season on Oct. 29 when they travel to Pikeville, the defending NAIA Division I National Champions. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.