DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most beloved and polarizing figures in the newest era of Kentucky basketball. Boogie, as he is affectionately known to all of Big Blue Nation, was one of the first to follow John Calipari from Memphis to the Blue Grass when Cal was hired back on April 1, 2009. Cousins was the #1 center and the #2 overall player in the 2009 class according to Rivals. His talent was not in question, but there were tales of personality issues that made some Kentucky fans a little wary.
But soon as he arrived on campus, DeMarcus Cousins began endearing himself to Kentucky fans. His reputation as a hot-headed troublemaker was transformed into that of a fun-loving, larger than life kid. Pictures such as the one below became the identity of Boogie during his stay in Lexington:
But as the season progressed we saw flashes of his temper and there were instances in which we saw Cousins sulking on the bench after a stern scolding from John Calipari. That temper finally flared up when the Louisville Cardinals made their way into Rupp Arena in one of the most volatile and fierce games in the history of the series.
There were stories of Louisville players being disrespectful before the ball was even tipped. One rumor that floated around was that Cousins went to shake the hands of a few Cardinal players during warm ups and was refused.
We don’t know if that was true or not, but what we do know is that Rick Pitino had coached his team to try and rough up the athletically superior Wildcats as a ploy in order to try and steal a game. Louisville’s Reginald Delk and Kentucky’s Eric Bledsoe almost came to blows on the sidelines early in the game as Delk was playing defense that borderlined on assault.
Things finally boiled over as Cousins and Jared Swopshire wrestled for a loose ball in a now infamous exchange:
Kentucky fans maintain that Swopshire hit Cousins in the groin area during the melee and that Boogie was just reacting to the low-blow. Louisville fans maintain that Cousins was just being malicious and should have been kicked out of the game. The refs could not decide either way, so fouls were assessed, nobody was kicked out, and Kentucky went on to convincingly defeat the Cards in the first Dream Game game of the Calipari era.
Cousins had a monster game with 18 points and 18 rebounds as Louisville’s big men had no answers for an impassioned and clearly angry Boogie.
Afterwards, the opinion on Cousins was now solidified: Kentucky fans loved him while every other fan base in the country despised him.