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Kentucky college basketball championships: Complete history

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8:21 pm, June 24, 2020

Kentucky's college basketball championships

Kentucky has won eight NCAA men's Division I college basketball championships:

  • 2012 (defeated Kansas, 67-59)
  • 1998 (defeated Utah, 78-69)
  • 1996 (defeated Syracuse, 76-67)
  • 1978 (defeated Duke, 94-88)
  • 1958 (defeated Seattle, 84-72)
  • 1951 (defeated Kansas State, 68-58)
  • 1949 (defeated Oklahoma A&M, 46-36)
  • 1948 (defeated Baylor, 58-42)

The following is a season-by-season look at each of these championships, including stats, rosters, full-game replays and a game-by-game recap of each season.

We begin with the 1947-48 season. Six years after losing in the regional final, which served as the Final Four back then, the Wildcats won their first-ever national championship in the 18th season of Adolph Rupp's tenure at Kentucky.

Here's everything you need to know about Kentucky's first national championship team.

Coach: Adolph Rupp
Conference: SEC
Record: 36-3 (9-0)
Conference Finish: 1st

12:39 pm, June 25, 2020

Kentucky's roster from the 1947-48 season

player position
Alex Groza Center
Ralph Beard Guard
Wallace Jones Forward
James Line Forward
Kenneth Rollins Guard
Cliff Barker Forward
Dale Barnstable Forward
Joe Holland Forward
Jack Parkinson Guard
Jim Jordan Forward
Walter Hirsch Forward
Albert Cummins Guard
John Strogh Guard
Garland Townes Guard
Roger Day Forward
Dutch Campbell Center
Robert Henne Guard
Bill Smither Guard

 

1:22 pm, June 25, 2020

Kentucky's player stats from the 1947-48 season

player points per game
Alex Groza 12.5
Ralph Beard 12.5
Wallace Jones 9.3
James Line 7.0
Kenneth Rollins 6.6
Cliff Barker 6.5
Dale Barnstable 4.6
Joe Holland 3.7
Jack Parkinson 3.3
Walter Hirsch 2.8
Albert Cummins 1.9
Jim Jordan 1.5
Garland Townes 1.5
Roger Day 1.5
Bill Smither 1.4
Robert Henne 1.2
Dutch Campbell 1.1
John Strogh 0.9

 

1:26 pm, June 25, 2020

The 1948 NCAA tournament bracket

Kentucky won its first-ever national championship in 1948 as the Wildcats knocked off Baylor 58-42 inside Madison Square Garden. Holy Cross and Kansas State also made the Final Four, with the Crusaders winning the third-place game.

The Wildcats would also win the national championship in 1949, becoming just the second men's basketball team to win back-to-back titles.

Just eight teams qualified for the 1948 NCAA tournament. Kentucky's Alex Groza was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player and he led all scorers in the tournament with 54 points in three games. Groza scored a game-high 14 points in the national championship game.

1948 NCAA tournament: Bracket

Click or tap here for a printable bracket.

1:27 pm, June 25, 2020

Kentucky's complete 1947-48 schedule breakdown

Nov. 29, 1947 – Kentucky 80, Indiana Central 41

"Before an all-student crowd of 3,500, Adolph Rupp's Wildcats, touted by many to be his best team yet, went through the same old story as they raced up and down the boards of the ancient gym to completely overpower the visitors," wrote The Courier-Journal's Jimmy Brown. "It was a typical opening game for the Cats. They started out erratically, allowing the Greyhounds to hold them in check for the first five minutes. But once they got their bearings they were off to the races."

Dec. 1, 1947 – Kentucky 80, Fort Knox 41

"Coach Adolph Rupp again used all 19 players on his Kentucky squad but he sent in veterans Cliff Barker and Joe Holland to start at the forward posts," reported the AP. "They replaced Jim Lane and Dale Barnstable, last year substitutes who had started against Indiana Central. Kentucky rolled up a 20-2 lead within the first six minutes."

Dec. 5, 1947 – Kentucky 72, Tulsa 18

"Kentuckys [sic] basketball regulars ran up a 41-5 halftime lead and let the all-Freshman third team finish off a 72-18 victory over Tulsa here last night," reported the AP. "The Wildcats established their superiority at the outset, scoring sixteen points before Tulsa could register a single point from the free throw line. Tulsa was held to a lone field goal in the first half, which came when the game was fourteen minutes old, and collected only six for the night."

Dec. 6, 1947 – Kentucky 71, Tulsa 22

"Kentucky overpowered a smaller and outmanned Tulsa university quintet 71 to 22 here tonight for its second win over the Golden Hurricane and its fourth in as many starts this season," reported the AP. "The Wildcats dogged the Oklahomans continuously, seldom allowing the visitors an open shot. And the Tulsa players, unwilling to fire recklessly, killed a lot of time trying to penetrate the tight defense."

Dec. 10, 1947 – Kentucky 74, DePaul 50

"DePaul's George Leddy sank a free throw on a foul by Kentucky's Ralph Beard early in the game to give the Chicagoans a 1-0 lead. That was the only time they were ahead during the contest," reported the AP. "Beard, the five foot-eleven Wildcat whiz, hit the baskets for seventeen points to lead his mates in the scoring department."

Dec. 13, 1947 – Kentucky 67, Cincinnati 31

"With the Cincinnatians turning on a surprising offensive that kept them on even terms until half of the first period had elapsed, Adolph Rupp's cagers were extended for the first time this season," wrote The Courier-Journal's Jimmy Brown. "They had to turn on full power to down the pesky Bearcats. In winning the Wildcats may have suffered a devastating blow. Ralph Beard, speedy all-America guard from Louisville, was carried from the floor with an injured leg, suffered in a collision under the Kentucky basket shortly after the start of the second half."

Dec. 17, 1947 – Kentucky 79, Xavier 37

"With All-American Ralph Beard out of the lineup, the Wildcats – Samsons of the hardwood – continued to flex their muscles by overpowering Xavier 79-37," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "Although Beard-less, the Wildcats still showed razor-sharpness. They completely outclassed the invading Musketeers with a flaming attack that scorched the basket in the first half. During that incendiary half, the Cats hit for an awesome 57.1 per cent [sic] of their shots."

Dec. 20, 1947 – Temple 60, Kentucky 59

"A field goal by Nelson Bobb with ninety seconds to play shattered the Kentucky university basketball invincibility myth last night as an inspired Temple quintet whipped the Wildcats, 60 to 59, before an amazed doubleheader crowd of 8,623 at Convention Hall," wrote the Messenger-Inquirer's Ralph Bernstein. "Bobb's field goal ended Kentucky's unbeaten string at seven and marked the second time in the past three years that an owl quintet put the finish to a wave of victories by Coach Adolph Rupp's court team. In the 1945-46 season Rupp brought a great team into Convention Hall only to fall before Josh Cody's Temple club."

Dec. 23, 1947 – Kentucky 52, St. John's 40

"The Kentucky win was accomplished with less difficulty than the score indicates," reported the AP. "It was Kentucky's fourth victory in five games with St. John's and St. John's fifth consecutive defeat in the Garden. Steady Kenny Rollins in his second year as U.K. captain showed the way along the scoring path last night with 16 points."

Jan. 2, 1948 – Kentucky 65, Creighton 23

"Kentucky's Wildcats went on the prowl last night for the first time this year after a long holiday vacation and chased a floundering flock of Blue Jays all over the Armory basketball floor," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "The 'Cats pawed most of the time with Creighton's baffled Blue Jays, just as they were supposed to do, in pouncing along to a 65-23 victory."

Jan. 3, 1948 – Kentucky 98, Western Ontario 41

"Everyone scored here tonight but ol' Adolph himself as Rupp's Kentucky Raiders equaled their old scoring mark by lambasting Western Ontario 98-41 in a whirlwind breeze," reported The Courier-Journal. "Actually, from the very beginning, it was quite apparent to the 2,800 persons present in Alumni Gym that the game would be an exhibition and not a contest."

Jan. 5, 1948 – Kentucky 67, Miami (OH) 53

"Kentucky's basketball famed Wildcats had to do more than just snarl and bare their highly touted fangs to win here tonight," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "The Wildcats instead were forced to call on all their stamina, drive and cunning to scamper away with a 67-53 triumph over a scrapping band."

Jan. 10, 1948 – Kentucky 47, Michigan State 45

"Kentucky's Wildcats won their 12th basketball game in 13 starts by outstripping Michigan State, 47 to 45, before a record Spartan crowd of 14,967 fans here tonight," reported the AP. "Kentucky's margin was achieved at the free throw line. The Wildcats sank 15 of 22 chances while Michigan State dropped in only 11 of 27."

Jan. 12, 1948 – Kentucky 79, Ohio 57

"Ohio U. paced by Dick Shrider's 24-point shooting, led twice in the first half, and the score was tied four other times, but the once-beaten Cats were ahead, 35-25, at halftime," reported the AP. "After the Ohioans pulled within six points, Al Groza and Jim Line sparked a Kentucky rally which put the Wildcats in front, 54-34, with seven minutes of final half played."

Jan. 17, 1948 – Kentucky 65, Tennessee 54

"Kentucky's sharpshooting Wildcats got their first taste of Southeastern Conference competition here tonight and it wasn't a sweet bon-bon Tennessee dished up to be gulped down with easy relish," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "The Volunteers mixed some unsavory and anxious moments in the dish before the Wildcats could get down to the dessert, a hard-earned 65-54 victory. Led by six-foot-seven Alex Groza, who played his customary magnificent floor game as well as pouring in 16 points to be the Wildcats' high scorer, Kentucky caught fire in the second half."

Jan. 19, 1948 – Kentucky 71, Georgia Tech 56

"An underdog Georgia Tech squad kept Kentucky on the jump most of the game, but the Wildcats slowly pulled away for their 15th victory of the season and their second win in the Southeastern conference race," reported the AP. "High point man of the game was Colin Anderson, Tech guard, with 19. Ralph Beard paced Kentucky with 16 points."

Jan. 20, 1948 – Kentucky 88, Georgia 51

"With Tennessee and Georgia Tech thoroughly masticated, the Wildcats invaded this smoky little barn-like gym and convinced 3,000 extremely partisan Bulldog fans that their press clippings are all true," reported The Courier-Journal. "Off their usual form against both Tennessee and Tech, the Kentuckians regained lost prestige with their Baron Adolph Rupp by displaying a burning offense and an air-tight defense."

Jan. 24, 1948 – Kentucky 70, Cincinnati 43

"Kentucky piled up a 19-7 lead in the first five minutes of play, during which time the Bearcats were held to a single field goal," reported the AP. "At intermission, the Wildcats were in command, 38-20. Cincinnati could connect from the field only twice in the first ten minutes of play and just five times in the entire first half, but the Bearcats made good on ten of fourteen free throws."

Jan. 31, 1948 – Kentucky 68, DePaul 51

"Kentucky's well-balanced attack held to a 32-27 halftime margin, nullified a 23-point performance by De Paul's [sic] 6-foot, 8-inch center, Ed Mikan, who played rings around Kentucky's heralded Alex Groza," reported the AP. "The Wildcat center collected only three points, all in the first half. Dale Barnstable led the Wildcats with 17 points, closely followed by Ralph Beard with 16 and Wallace Jones with 15."

Feb. 2, 1948 – Notre Dame 64, Kentucky 55

"The Notre Dame-Kentucky game was a hard fought contest, with the lead changing 12 times in the first half," reported the AP. "The score was tied eight times before Notre Dame managed to move ahead 34 to 32 at half-time. Kevin O'Shea of Notre Dame and Kentucky's Alex Groza put on a scoring match with O'Shea coming out ahead. He dropped in 25 points and Groza picked up a total of 23."

Feb. 5, 1948 – Kentucky 41, Alabama 31

"The Kentucky basketball team found Alabama's Tide a tough opponent last night but the Wildcats poured on 11 points in the final five minutes to win their Southeastern Conference tussle, 41-31," reported the AP. "The game had been nip and tuck up to that point. Alabama held a 15-12 lead two minutes before halftime. Baskets from the field by Ralph Beard and Kenny Rollins and a free throw by Alex Groza gave the Wildcats a margin of 17-15 at the intermission, however."

Feb. 7, 1948 – Kentucky 69, Washington University of St. Louis 39

"The biggest crowd ever to see a basketball contest in this Mississippi River community, 4,537 non-partisans, didn't have many words to say as Baron Adolph Rupp's raiders awestruck them," reported The Courier-Journal. "Strictly speaking, it was far from being a brilliant Kentucky victory, the Wildcats' 20th in 22 starts. It was a pure and simple case of Kentucky having entirely too much finesse for the Washington quintet."

Feb. 9, 1948 – Kentucky 82, Vanderbilt 51

"Kentucky's Ralph Beard started the scoring with a free throw in the first ten seconds of play and the sharp-shooting Wildcats were never headed or threatened," reported the AP. "The Wildcats racked up 11 points before Mike Craig connected for the first Vanderbilt two-pointer. At the end of eight minutes of play, the Kentuckians held a 16-4 lead and at the half the score was 37-23."

Feb. 14, 1948 – Kentucky 69, Tennessee 42

"Kentucky's iron-fisted mastery over Tennessee here tonight made for an unexciting basketball game," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "But the oddities that happened as the Wildcats clubbed the Vols 69-42 kept the crowd alternately entertained, thrilled and amused." The game was remembered for Ralph Beard's first-half buzzer-beater. "The buzzer-beater is still one of the longest shots (52.5 feet) in UK history," according to the Kentucky men's basketball media guide.

Feb. 16, 1948 – Kentucky 63, Alabama 33

"Alabama used the slow break here tonight in an attempt to dam up the potential scoring power of Kentucky, but it was the Wildcats who reduced the Crimson Tide to a mere trickle," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "Aggressive, sparkling Cliff Barker found the weak spot in the Alabama barrier. Once it was cracked , the Wildcats gushed through with a waterfall of baskets in the second half to sweep away the Tide 63-33."

Feb. 20, 1948 – Kentucky 79, Vanderbilt 43

"If Georgia Tech's Engineers don't show up for their game here tomorrow night, it's because they're heeding the storm warnings raised last night," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "Vanderbilt's Commodores sailed head on into that hurricane, a tempest that could only be stilled by Kentucky's Coach Adolph Rupp himself. His Wildcats inundated the Commodores 79-43 as it was. But if he hadn't yanked his first team after 11 minutes of play, and his second line after five minutes of the second half, the Wildcats probably would have smashed their high point record of 98 points for a single game."

Feb. 21, 1948 – Kentucky 78, Georgia Tech 54

"Wallace Jones unloosed a barrage of timely set shots to carry Kentucky over the hump before the Wildcats shook off a scrappy Georgia Tech five and captured a 78-54 Southeastern Conference basketball victory here tonight," reported the AP. "Tech stayed in the game until the final half as its towering center, Jim Nolan, poured on bucket after bucket for the Yellow Jackets. He finished with 32 points."

Feb. 24, 1948 – Kentucky 58, Temple 38

"Kentucky's Ralph Beard and Wah Wah Jones snared the night's scoring honors with 12 points apiece," reported the AP. "Big Alex Groza tallied 11. The Wildcats got off to a slow start, but Temple did, too. However, once Adolph Rupp's charges hit their stride they amazed and thrilled the capacity crowd of 7,800 with the rapidity and accuracy of their shots."

Feb. 28, 1948 – Kentucky 59, Xavier 37

"Kentucky, winner of the last four (SEC) tournaments and nine of the last 14, is a heavy favorite to retain the title," reported the AP, before the start of the 1948 SEC tournament. "The Wildcats meet Florida in the final game of the opening day's four-game program."

March 4, 1948 – (SEC tournament) Kentucky 87, Florida 31

"Kentucky's first string combination was left intact only a little more than ten minutes," reported the AP. "The second team was in charge after 14 minutes. Even so, the Wildcats piled up a 48-12 lead in the first half against badly outclassed Florida."

March 5, 1948 – (SEC tournament) Kentucky 63, LSU 47

"Kentucky went out front in handy fashion and was substantially ahead most of the way, but the Bayou Bengals pulled to within eight points of their lead late in the game," reported the AP.

March 6, 1948 – (SEC tournament) Kentucky 70, Tennessee 47

March 6, 1948 – (SEC tournament) Kentucky 54, Georgia Tech 43

"Kentucky was extended the limit tonight by a Georgia Tech team that lost sixteen games in regular season play before pulling away in the closing minutes to capture its fifth straight Southeastern conference basketball championship, 54-43," reported the AP. "The spirited Engineers fought Kentucky on even terms most of the way, sharing a 41-41 tie with seven minutes to play and trailing by a lone point 42-43, with five minutes to go. Kentucky's heavy ammunition opened up at that point and the Wildcats soon were safely on top."

March 18, 1948 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 76, Columbia 53

"The opening contest was a hard-driving affair a bit on the rough side. The scoring stars of both teams went out in the second half on personal fouls," reported the AP. "'Wah Wah' Jones, Kentucky's point-making ace, was ejected about midway the last half after ringing in twenty-one points. Walter Budko, who set a new individual scoring record at Columbia this year, went out shortly afterwards, after tallying seventeen. Columbia held its own for the first eight minutes before Kentucky, taking advantage of its superior height and experience, started pulling away steadily."

March 20, 1948 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 60, Holy Cross 52

"Kentucky assumed the lead early and led almost all the way," reported the AP. "The Southeastern Conference champions were sparked by big Alex Groza and All-American Ralph Beard. Groza, a 6-7 ball of fire, racked up 23 points and played a terrific game at the backboards. Beard, who connected on his first four set shot attempts in the first half, was the Wildcats' steadying influence as well as their playmaker."

March 23, 1948 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 58, Baylor 42

"Behind the Fabulous Five of Ralph Beard, Wah Wah Jones, Alex Groza, Kenny Rollins and Cliff Barker, the 1947-48 Kentucky men's basketball team went 36-3 en route to win the school's first national championship," according to the Kentucky men's basketball media guide. "Alex Groza and Ralph Beard combined for 26 points and the Wildcats' defense held the Bears to 16 first-half points to capture UK's first NCAA title."

1:28 pm, June 25, 2020

1947-48 Kentucky player honors, awards

Ralph Beard

  • 1948 consensus First Team All-American
  • 1948 SEC First Team All-Tournament

Alex Groza

  • 1948 Second Team All-American
  • 1948 Final Four Most Outstanding Player
  • 1948 All-Tournament Team
  • 1948 NCAA Regional MVP
  • 1948 All-Regional Team
  • 1948 SEC Second Team All-Tournament

Wah Wah Jones

  • 1948 Third Team All-American
  • 1948 SEC First Team All-Tournament

Ken Rollins

  • 1948 SEC First Team All-Tournament

Cliff Barker

  • 1948 SEC Second Team All-Tournament
6:45 pm, June 25, 2020

Kentucky players drafted into the Basketball Association of America

1948 BAA Draft

  • No. 22 – Joe Holland, Baltimore Bullets
  • No. 47 – Kenny Rollins, Fort Wayne Pistons
  • No. 111 – Jack Parkinson, Washington Capitols

1949 BAA Draft

  • No. 4 – Alex Groza, Indianapolis Olympians
  • No. 10 – Wah Wah Jones, Washington Capitols
  • No. 14 – Ralph Beard, Chicago Stags
  • No. 35 – Cliff Barker, Washington Capitols

1950 NBA Draft

  • No. 41 – Jim Line, Indianapolis Olympians
  • No. 74 – Dale Barnstable, Boston Celtics
6:57 pm, June 25, 2020

1948-49 Kentucky Wildcats Quick Facts

Kentucky won its first-ever men's basketball national championship in 1948 and in 1949, the Wildcats became just the second program to win back-to-back national championships. Despite having three players drafted in the 1948 BAA Draft, the Wildcats returned their top three scorers — Alex Groza, Ralph Beard and Wah Wah Jones — who then led Kentucky in its repeat effort.

Here's everything you need to know about the 1948-49 Wildcats.

Coach: Adolph Rupp
Conference: SEC
Record: 32-2 (13-0)
Conference Finish: 1st
Conference Tournament Finish: Conference champion

7:27 pm, June 25, 2020

Kentucky's roster turnover before the 1948-49 season

After the 1948 season, Kentucky lost the following players:

  • Kenny Rollins, guard, 6.6 ppg
  • Joe Holland, forward, 3.7 ppg
  • Jack Parkinson, guard, 3.3 ppg
  • Albert Cummins, guard, 1.9 ppg
  • Jim Jordan, forward, 1.5 ppg
  • Bill Smither, guard, 1.4 ppg
  • Dutch Campbell, center, 1.1 ppg
  • John Strogh, guard, 0.9 ppg

The Wildcats enrolled the following players in the fall of 1948:

  • Johnny Stough, guard
  • Al Bruno, forward
7:54 pm, June 25, 2020

Here is Kentucky's roster from the 1948-49 season

player position
Alex Groza Center
Ralph Beard Guard
Wallace Jones Forward
Cliff Barker Guard
Dale Barnstable Forward
James Line Forward
Walter Hirsch Forward
Roger Day Forward
Johnny Stough Guard
Garland Townes Guard
Al Bruno Forward
Robert Henne Guard

 

12:14 pm, June 26, 2020

Kentucky's player stats from the 1948-49 season

player games FG FGA FG% FT% points
Alex Groza 34 7.6 18.0 .423 .726 20.5
Ralph Beard 34 4.2 14.1 .299 .713 10.9
Wallace Jones 32 4.1 13.8 .295 .653 9.7
Cliff Barker 34 2.8 9.3 .298 .682 7.3
Dale Barnstable 34 2.5 9.1 .272 .719 6.1
James Line 31 2.3 6.3 .359 .843 5.9
Walter Hirsch 34 2.0 6.1 .321 .688 4.6
Roger Day 19 1.1 2.1 .538 .529 2.7
Al Bruno 9 1.0 3.3 .300 .667 2.2
Garland Townes 16 0.6 3.0 .208 .550 1.9
Johnny Stough 25 0.5 2.2 .232 .857 1.5
Robert Henne 9 0.2 2.1 .105 .429 0.8

 

12:21 pm, June 26, 2020

Kentucky's AP Top 25 poll rankings from 1948-49

12:23 pm, June 26, 2020

The 1949 NCAA tournament bracket

Kentucky won its second national title in a row in 1949 as the Wildcats defeated Oklahoma State 46-36 in the national championship. Kentucky's Alex Groza scored 25 of the Wildcats' 46 points. No other player in the game scored more than 12. Groza was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player and he was the tournament's leading scorer with 82 points.

Illinois and Oregon State both made their first Final Four appearance in 1949. Just eight teams qualified for the 1949 NCAA tournament, which meant that a team had to win just three games to win the national championship.

The national third-place game between Illinois and Oregon State marked the 100th game in NCAA tournament history.

1949 NCAA tournament: Bracket

Click or tap here for a printable bracket.

12:24 pm, June 26, 2020

Kentucky's complete 1948-49 schedule breakdown

Nov. 29, 1948 – Kentucky 74, Indiana Central 38

"Kentucky's Wildcats clicking with the precision that carried them to the national collegiate basketball throne last season, opened 1948-49 play tonight with a 74-38 victory over Indiana Central," reported the AP. "The Wildcats started moving soon after the opening whistle and had a 33-14 lead to grow on at halftime."

Dec. 8, 1948 – Kentucky 67, DePaul 36

"Held in check during the first half by the De Paul [sic] Demons, Coach Adolph Rupp's Wildcats put on a scorching exhibition in the final canto to the delight of 7,800 fans," reported the AP. "Kentucky led at halftime 20-13. Led by Ralph Beard in the scoring department and by the tricky passing of Sophomore Walter Hirsch, Kentucky set a devastating pace in the first ten minutes of the second half, racing the Demons off the boards and hitting the basket with uncanny accuracy."

Dec. 10, 1948 – Kentucky 81, Tulsa 27

"The victory was No. 66 without a defeat on the Wildcats home floor," reported the AP. "Big Alex Groza, Kentucky pivot-man, rained 23 points through the hoops as the Wildcats moved at will. Coach Adolph Rupp's riifle-eyed raider gave the visitors all but six of their points in the first half."

Dec. 13, 1948 – Kentucky 76, Arkansas 39

"The rangy Razorbacks dogged the favored Kentuckians at the outset with a zone defense and had a 7-7 deadlock after five minutes," reported the AP. "Kentucky unloosed a lethal spurt at this point and stayed safely ahead thereafter. The halftime score was 40-19."

Dec. 16, 1948 – Kentucky 51, Holy Cross 48

"There's no doubt that any basketball team which defeats Kentucky's National Collegiate champions will have to be a top of the bottle aggregation, specially when the Wildcats from the Blue Grass region have such operatives as Wah Wah Jones, Alex Groza and Ralph Beard," reported the AP. "The Wildcats took Holy Cross 51-48 last night as the great Jones and the skillful Groza scored more points in the first half than did the entire Holy Cross five."

Dec. 18, 1948 – Kentucky 57, St. John's 30

"The cage cyclone that ripped into this territory from the Bluegrass completed its devastation of the East here tonight by wrecking the unbeaten record of another basketball team," reported The Courier-Journal. "Kentucky this time blew St. John's from the ranks of the unbeaten, sweeping to an easy 57-30 triumph."

Dec. 22, 1948 – Kentucky 51, Tulane 47

"A surprised capacity crowd of 7,450 persons never saw the Wildcats in the lead during the first 15 minutes of play," reported the AP. "They came to life with five minutes of the period remaining, however, take the lead at 19-18, and by the halftime intermission had increased their advantage too 30-22. Kentucky had increased its lead to 14 points, 44-30, after six minutes of the second half had gone, but at that point Tulane began to whittle Kentucky's lead."

Dec. 29, 1948 – Kentucky 78, Tulane 47

"The loss was the first for Coach Cliiff Wells on his 'home' court in 29 contests, and only his fourth in the three years since he left Logansport, Ind., for the college job here," wrote The Courier-Journal's Earl Ruby. "Playing with blinding speed, the Wildcats controlled the ball through Alex Groza's brilliant rebounds, and stole the ball game with a sensational shooting percentage of 42.2"

Dec. 30, 1948 – Saint Louis 42, Kentucky 40

"A hectic night of basketball in which St. Louis toppled Kentucky's Wildcats from the unbeaten ranks left Western Kentucky's Hilltoppers as the Blue Grass state's only undefeated cage team today," reported the AP. "The St. Louis Billikens beat Kentucky's National Collegiate champions, 42-40, in closing moments of their Sugar Bowl championship thriller in New Orleans."

Jan. 11, 1949 – Kentucky 63, Bowling Green 61

"The Wildcats were handicapped throughout more than half the game by the absence of center Alex Groza," reported The Courier-Journal. "He spent the greater part of the game on the bench because of personal fouls. However, Ralph Beard came through with an amazing display of long-range accuracy to score 20 points and pace the Wildcats to their ninth victory of the season against one loss."

Jan. 15, 1949 – Kentucky 66, Tennessee 51

"The Wildcats, playing their second regularly-scheduled Southeastern Conference game, built up a 37-15 lead in the first half," reported the AP. "Btu the Vols caught fire with the start of the last period and scored 17 points in the first 10 minutes. They were spurred by the ball-hawking of Bert Keenan, newly-converted to forward. Midway of the stanza Kentucky held onto a 14-point lead and rode out the Tennessee rally in a fast finish."

Jan. 17, 1949 – Kentucky 56, Georgia Tech 45

"(Georgia) Tech could give a close game only during the first ten minutes, and at one time shocked nearly everyone of the 1,800 fans in the small, stuffy gym," reported the AP. "Kentucky's Ralph Beard, guard, and Alex Groza, center, got most of Kentucky's first ten points, while Tech could score but four. However, Melvin Dold and Colin Anderson began stealing the ball from the Wildcats and put tech ahead 11-10 after eight minutes of playing."

Jan. 22, 1949 – Kentucky 56, DePaul 45

"Strange as it may seem, the biggest Stadium mob of the season was loudly pro-Kentucky here in the heart of DePaul territory," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "The hospitable Chicagoans – fiercely booing decisions against Kentucky and generously applauding nifty shots by the Wildcats – were particularly appreciative of U.K.'s Mutt and Jeff Combination. Mr. Mutt — six-foot, eight Alex Groza — and Mr. Jeff — five-foot, 10.5-inch Ralph Beard — combined for 34 of Kentucky's points."

Jan. 29, 1949 – Kentucky 62, Notre Dame 38

"The issue never was in doubt after the smooth-working Wildcats took a 10-point lead midway of the first half," reported the AP. "When the teams reached the rest stop, Kentucky boasted a 33-16 bulge. Kentucky, second ranking nationally in the Associated Press poll, made a strong bid for the top spot by smacking the Fighting Irish for their worst defeat of the season. The Irish bowed to DePaul by 21 points."

Jan. 31, 1949 – Kentucky 72, Vanderbilt 50

"The Commodores were able to keep abreast of the Kentuckians for a little more than 10 minutes and then the fade began," reported the AP. "Led by (Alex) Groza's top offensive effort in S.E.C. competition, the Wildcats outplayed the locals with ease. Bill Joe Adcock, Vanderbilt's high-scoring forward who led the league last season, turned in his best performance of the current campaign, bucketing 22 points."

Feb. 2, 1949 – Kentucky 56, Alabama 40

"Big Alex Groza led Kentucky to a 56-40 victory over Alabama here tonight for the Wildcats' fifty-second straight win over Southeastern conference foes," reported the AP. "The six-foot seven-inch Kentucky center counted 23 points on seven baskets from the field and nine successful foul tries. He also dominated play under the basket and generally was responsible for Kentucky's relatively easy triumph."

Feb. 3, 1949 – Kentucky 75, Ole Miss 45

"The Kentuckians, paced by lanky Alex Groza, got off to a six-point lead within seconds and never fell behind," reported the AP. "By halftime, the score was 40 to 19 and it was apparent Mississippi was hopelessly outclassed. This was the sixteenth win of the season for the Wildcats, who were voted the country's top team in the Associated Press poll of sports writers and sportscasters this week."

Feb. 5, 1949 – Kentucky 62, Bradley 52

"Appropriately, the trilled was the first college basketball game to be played in Owensboro Memorial Recreation Center, itself an exciting, new, $630,000 structure." wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "Alex Groza completely captivated the jamed [sic] World War II memorial with a spectacular exhibition. He scored 30 dazzling points, and coupled with his fiery aggressiveness under the baskets, he had fans – and the opposition — gasping in disbelieving awe."

Feb. 8, 1949 – Kentucky 71, Tennessee 56

"The Kentucky Wildcats withstood a Tennessee attack in the final half that brought the Volunteers within six points of the Ruppmen with about five minutes to play; then the Cats went on to register a 71 to 56 final victory," reported the AP. "Big Alex Groza was the star of the night as he tossed in 34 points. This tied an all-time record of Kentucky and at the same time sat a new SEC record."

Feb. 12, 1949 – Kentucky 96, Xavier 50

"Kentucky hit an amazing 44.9 per cent [sic] of its shots to roll with unexpected ease over Xavier 96-50 in a basketball game here tonight," reported the AP. "Kentucky moved into a 10-point lead in the first seven minutes of the tilt and coasted in. The victory was Kentucky's 71st in a row at home and its 18th of the season against one loss."

Feb. 14, 1949 – Kentucky 74, Alabama 32

"The Kentucky game, played at Lexington, saw Wildcat reserves in action during most of the second half," reported the AP. "Gene Palmer of Alabama led his teammates with eight points."

Feb. 16, 1949 – Kentucky 85, Ole Miss 31

"Although it was a rout, as expected, you had the feeling most Wildcat fans left alumni gym somewhat disappointed," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "Most had come to see one of two things: 1. Alex Groza recapture the Southeastern Conference scoring record. He had it with 34 points until Billy Joe Adcock of Vanderbilt surpassed even that with 36 the other night. 2. Kentucky smash its own home floor scoring record of 98, achieved last season over Western Ontario. Neither of these came to pass."

Feb. 19, 1949 – Kentucky 78, Georgia Tech 32

"Alex Groza again led the Wildcats scoring attack. He hooped in 26 points to threaten the S.E.C. individual game scoring record before he was removed with four and one half minutes to go," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "Combining with Wallace 'Wah-Wah' Jones, Alex helped the Wildcats to forge in front. Georgia Tech, fighting fiercely at the game's outset, grabbed a quick 2-0 advantage. The Engineers still held a two-point lead after the first five minutes of play – 9-7."

Feb. 21, 1949 – Kentucky 95, Georgia 40

"Kentucky's Alex Groza grabbed the Southeastern Conference single game basketball scoring record again last night as the Wildcats crushed Georgia, 95-40," reported the AP. "Groza sank 38 points to better the old mark of 36 held by Bill Joe Adcock of Vanderbilt ... Groza, six-foot-seven Wildcats center and captain, set an individual SEC scoring mark two weeks ago when he plunked in 34 points against Tennessee. His record stood until last week when Adcock scored 36 points against Mississippi State."

Feb. 24, 1949 – Kentucky 51, Xavier 40

"Kentucky's Wildcats, No. 1 basketball team in the nation, had to fight from behind in the last nine minutes to lick an underdog Xavier university quintet, 51 to 40," reported the AP. "A crowd of 13,000 – the biggest ever to see a basketball game in Cincinnati – packed the new Cincinnati Garden to see the Wildcats get the scare of their lives against a team they had beaten, 96 to 50, only two weeks ago. So hard-pressed were the Kentuckians that four of the regulars had to go the full 40-minute route. Only six players saw action for Kentucky."

Feb. 26, 1949 – Kentucky 70, Vanderbilt 37

"To cap the record-making, Kentucky guard Cliff Barker sank an amazing 65-foot field goal, from near Vanderbilt's free throw line, just as the game ended. It was measured after the game. It probably was one of the longest goals of all time in collegiate basketball," reported the AP. "(Alex) Groza scored twenty-three points to boost his season's total to 508 points, four more than Lonnie (Country) Graham scored for Mississippi State when he set the record in 1938."

March 3, 1949 (SEC tournament) – Kentucky 73, Florida 36

"Kentucky won with all the ease it was supposed to," reported The Advocate-Messenger. "The Wildcats with the starters going only about a third of the way, flattened Florida, 73-36. Nothing at all happened to change the pre-tourney opinion of dopesters that figure the defending champs to cakewalk to their sixth straight S.E.C. title. Only disappointment of the opening round was Alex Groza's withdrawal from Kentucky's lineup when he had a tournament scoring record all but clinched, Groza amassed 22 points while playing just 12 minutes."

March 4, 1949 (SEC tournament) – Kentucky 70, Auburn 39

"Kentucky opened up its big guns at the outset of the second half after being held comparatively close part of the way in the first half," reported the AP. "Coming back after intermission with a 33-19 bulge, the Wildcats scored 10 points in two minutes and ran their lead to 59-27 with 10 minutes to play. Alex Groza played just over half of the game, but amassed 19 points, best offensive effort for the Wildcats."

March 5, 1949 (SEC tournament) – Kentucky 83, Tennessee 44

March 5, 1949 (SEC tournament) – Kentucky 68, Tulane 52

"Alexander 'The Great' Groza set two more scoring records last night as Kentucky captured its 11th Southeastern Conference title by subduing scrappy Tulane 68-52," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "Al made his last appearance on a Kentucky court a dramatically memorable one by scoring 37 points at the Armory. That smashed the old tournament single game record of 31 established by Joe Bill Adcock of L.S.U. in 1946. And his four-game tournament total of 94 points was 20 points better than the tournament total mark amassed by Bonnie 'Country' Graham of Mississippi in 1938."

March 14, 1949 (NIT) Loyola Chicago 67, Kentucky 56

"It was Kentucky's first defeat since the nation's No. 1 quintet bowed to St. Louis, 42-40, last Dec. 30. Kentucky had won twenty-one games since and brought a 29-1 record in the Garden meet," wrote The Owensboro Messenger's Will Grimsley. "It was Loyola's 24th victory of the year against five defeats and the Ramblers second of the tourney. They routed CCNY, 62-47, last Saturday. Thus, the Chicago lads, who got into the tourney as an afterthought when the field was icnreased from eight teams to twelve, ruined Kentucky's hopes for a basketball double slam. Kentucky still has a chance to defend its NCAA title."

March 21, 1949 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 85, Villanova 72

"Having shaken off the nightmare of their upset at the hands of Loyola of Chicago in the National Invitation quarter finals last week, Coach Adolph Rupp's marauders showed their old time awe-inspiring power and finesse last night to defeat a tough Villanova team, 85 to 72, in a game that broke three NCAA records," reported the U.P. "The Kentuckian's triumph was no pushover, chiefly because of a brilliant 30-point scoring job by Paul Arizin, the Philadelphians' slick-shooting, six-foot-three center. But whenever Villanova threatened to make a battle of it Rupp's men came up with all the gains necessary to win."

March 22, 1949 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 76, Illinois 47

"The Illini took a 2-0 lead, but Kentucky quickly wiped it out," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "Thereafter, the Cats steadily increased their margin. They were out front with a comfortable 39-22 lead at the intermission. It was no contest from that point on. Alex Groza with 27 points was high for U.K., but again, as last night, Jim Line rose from the obscurity of the bench to draw the plaudits of a Madison Square Garden crowd of 15,126. The mob was inclined to believe he is the greatest left-hander since Carl Hubbell. He dropped his lazy push shot through the netting for 15 points."

March 26, 1949 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 46, Oklahoma State 36

"With Alex Groza as chief gunner, piling in 25 points, Kentucky remained National Collegiate basketball champion tonight by crushing Oklahoma A.&M., 46-36," reported the AP. "Big Alex was a scoring wildman before a howling crowd of 12,500. The 6-foot-7 senior center wound up his college career by winning unanimous selection as the 'Player of the Tournament.' Sports writers, awed by his display of scoring, voted him the honor without a dissent. It took Kentucky all of a minute and a half to score and three more minutes to overtake the Aggies at 5-all. Then Big Alex put the defending N.C.A.A. champions in front at 7-5 and A.&M. never caught up."

1:58 pm, June 29, 2020

Kentucky 1948-49 individual player awards, honors

Alex Groza

  • 1949 Final Four Most Outstanding Player
  • 1949 consensus First Team All-American

Ralph Beard

  • 1949 consensus First Team All-American

Wallace Jones

  • 1949 consensus Second Team All-American