DETROIT (AP) — A basketball world-record crowd of 78,129 watched No. 8 Kentucky beat No. 21 Michigan State 79-74 Saturday at Ford Field.
Gerald Fitch scored 25 points for the Wildcats, who never trailed, while Michigan State’s Paul Davis had 24.
The Wildcats (5-0) have won their first five games for the first time since 1992-93. The last time Michigan State (3-4) had a losing record was 1995-96, Tom Izzo’s first season as head coach.
Basketball’s previous attendance record was 75,000, set in 1951 when the Harlem Globetrotters played at Olympic Stadium in Berlin.
The NCAA attendance record was 68,112, set in 1990 at the Louisiana Superdome when Notre Dame played LSU. The NBA record is 62,046 from a Chicago-Atlanta game at the Georgia Dome in 1998.
Besides the 65,000 spectators the stadium holds for a Detroit Lions game, there were about 5,000 students — without seats — standing, jumping and lounging on the artificial turf.
Another 5,000 fans had seats on the floor, some paying as much as $500, as did hundreds of band members from both schools.
Others spent $8 for seats in the upper deck that were so far away jersey numbers could only be seen with binoculars.
In one end zone, students looked like they were at an outdoor concert.
Some sat behind Kentucky’s band and “The Izzone,” Michigan State’s student section, and could only see the heads and shoulders of the players despite the court being elevated on a 3-foot platform.
Others simply laid on their backs and watched the game on the videoboards.
The undersized Wildcats didn’t have much trouble scoring inside against Michigan State.
When they chose to shoot from the perimeter, the unique sight lines didn’t seem to bother them. Kentucky shot 60 percent.
When the Wildcats shot from the right wing in the first half, they saw daylight beyond the basket through a 65-foot high glass wall. In the second half, it was dark.
After trailing by 15 points in the first half and by 10 early in the second half, Michigan State pulled to 62-61 with 8:21 left.
Kentucky then built three six-point leads before Shannon Brown’s two free throws pulled the Spartans within two with 1:04 left.
Fitch’s two free throws with 21 seconds left and Brown’s 3-point miss sealed the win for the Wildcats.
Unlike basketball games at domes that have attracted 40,000-plus fans, the court was not tucked into an end zone and there was no curtain to cut off half the seats.
Players had to walk up three steps to get on the court, which Michigan State brought from East Lansing.
It’s not the first time the Spartans have set an attendance record.
Michigan State played Michigan in hockey two years ago at Spartan Stadium before 74,554, a world-record crowd for a hockey game.