The crowd was more than four times larger than any Nick Mayo had ever played before in Maine, and his Eastern Kentucky men’s basketball team took a loss, but playing against the University of Kentucky at Rupp Arena on national television was a thrill.

“It was definitely different than anything I’d seen in Maine. It was fun. It was exciting,” said Mayo, who graduated from Messalonskee High School in June. “Most of the crowd was cheering the UK, but it was still a cool experience.”

The announced attendance at Rupp Arena for Wednesday’s game was 22,544, just under the capacity of 23,500. Kentucky, the No. 5 ranked team in the nation, won, 88-67. The game was televised on ESPN2.

A freshman forward for Eastern Kentucky, Mayo started and played 25 minutes, scoring nine points with three rebounds.

“It got pretty loud at the start of the game, during their introductions. They shoot off fireworks,” Mayo said. “During the game, when we were close, it got quiet.”

Mayo was a key to Eastern Kentucky’s 10-0 run early in the second half, helping cut a 16-point deficit to six. Mayo’s 3-pointer with 18:19 left in the second half pulled the Colonels to within eight points of the Wildcats, 52-44. Approximately 30 seconds later, Mayo sprinted down the court, getting behind Kentucky’s defense for a transition layup, cutting Eastern Kentucky’s deficit to 52-46.

“We were just getting stops and we were able to execute our offense,” Mayo said. “We gave a good fight.”

Mayo, who’s started all 10 of Eastern Kentucky’s games, averages 11.9 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Mayo’s field goal percentage, .602 (50 for 83) tops the team, is third in the Ohio Valley Conference, and is 38th best in the nation. The Colonels (7-3) are in Huntington, West Virginia for a game Saturday night at Marshall.

“We’ve had a couple tough losses but it’s going well,” Mayo said.

Eastern Kentucky is scheduled to appear on national television three more times in the regular season. The Colonels will be on ESPNU on Dec. 21 when they play at West Virginia. CBS Sports Network will broadcast EKU’s game at Eastern Illinois on Jan. 14. A Feb. 11 game at Morehead State also is scheduled for CBS Sports Network.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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