Kentucky basketball is rich in tradition as everyone knows. One of those traditions is the Texas Roadhouse Countdown to Tipoff pre-game show. Big Blue Nation tuned in for years to listen to Dave Baker and the legendary Oscar Combs get everyone ready to watch the Cats.
Dave gives you that energy and enthusiasm no matter what he’s doing. It doesn’t matter if he’s hosting the pre-game show, calling a football game or doing television work, he’s a true pro. I haven’t officially met him yet, but I did see him the other day when he walked past us at the UT-Martin game. He was on his phone, but still threw up a friendly wave.
You also knew what you were going to get from Oscar when you tuned in before each game. Oscar is from the mountains of southeastern Kentucky (Perry County) and he’s proud of it. Everyone who heard Oscar could relate to him, he was very easy to listen to. Those of us from the mountains (I’m from Harlan County) felt that connection even more.
I had the honor of meeting Oscar for the first time at the Kentucky-Louisville game at Commonwealth Stadium in 2015 when Freddie Maggard introduced me to him. He was just as fun to listen to in person as he always had been on the radio. His knowledge of Kentucky sports history is unmatched, as we all know.
When he announced that he was leaving the UK Radio Network this summer everyone knew that his replacement would have huge shoes to fill.
It’s safe to say that former UK guard Rex Chapman has stepped in and made the transition a smooth one. Those of us that remember his game at UK and in the NBA know that he brought it. He brings his perspective as a former player right to the pre-game show. He tells it like it is. If a guy isn’t defending or rebounding well Rex won’t hesitate to point it out. Being a native of Owensboro, his Kentucky roots run deep as well.
Another thing Rex brings to the table is his wide range knowledge from the music of his era.
Prior to either the Stephen F. Austin or Canisius (one of the two) game Rex had Rick Astley on his mind so you know what he was belting out from time to time throughout the show: yep.
There really is no gray area with this song. You either like it or you don’t.
I’m not a fan.
Being a kid in the 80’s caused me to get burned out on this song years ago. It was still funny hearing Rex sing it and even funnier hearing him try to pull Dave into joining him.
The song of the evening for the Michigan State game was put on a tee for Rex. Spartans’ guard Lourawls Nairn made it easy for Rex to kick it old school, really old school.
Rex showed off the pipes once again and Dave, like most everyone listening, could do nothing but laugh. The game turned out to be more of a Dead End Street for Nairn and Michigan State, but that’s another Lou Rawls song for another day.
Other artists and songs from King Rex’s wheelhouse that have made it onto the pre-game show are, of course, Michael Jackson.
The King of Pop was huge when Rex was the King of Lexington, no surprise to see him being heard for the first of probably many times on the pre-game show. I’ll go out on a pretty secure limb and predict that we’ll hear some Janet Jackson at some point too.
Rex also hit us with some classic Michael McDonald and referenced Regulate by Warren G and the late Nate Dogg, who sampled McDonald’s tune in 1994.
You can never, ever go wrong with Michael McDonald. It’s amazing how much entertaining radio has come our way and we’re only nine games into the season. Rex’s music game is strong. Like many fans of the show, I’ve even tweeted in a few for requests for him.
— Vinny Hardy (@VinnyHardy) November 23, 2016
Rex has proven that he has the lower register to hit those low, deep songs with ease. I know DeBarge is in his wheelhouse and they also did several songs that would let us know how his falsetto game is. Can he really get up there and hit a high note or two for everybody?
He just might surprise us and climb the octave ladder. Even if he didn’t it would still be awesome to hear him try it on the show. We’ve already gotten a season’s worth of great stuff from Rex and Dave and we’re just getting started. The next chance to hear the fellas will be Sunday afternoon when the Cats take on Hofstra in Brooklyn. You won’t want to miss it!