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
Record: 36-3 (9-0)
Conference Finish: 1st
Kentucky's roster from the 1947-48 season
Kentucky's player stats from the 1947-48 season
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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
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."
1947-48 Kentucky player honors, awards
- 1948 consensus First Team All-American
- 1948 SEC First Team All-Tournament
- 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
- 1948 SEC First Team All-Tournament
- 1948 SEC Second Team All-Tournament
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
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
Record: 32-2 (13-0)
Conference Finish: 1st
Conference Tournament Finish: Conference champion
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
Here is Kentucky's roster from the 1948-49 season
Kentucky's player stats from the 1948-49 season
Kentucky's AP Top 25 poll rankings from 1948-49
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
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."
Kentucky 1948-49 individual player awards, honors
- 1949 Final Four Most Outstanding Player
- 1949 consensus First Team All-American
- 1949 consensus First Team All-American
- 1949 consensus Second Team All-American
Kentucky players drafted into the BAA and NBA
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
1950-51 Kentucky Wildcats Quick Facts
After becoming the second men's basketball program to win back-to-back national championships, the Wildcats became the first team to win three championships in four years as they followed up their 1948 and 1949 titles with one in 1951, led by a new cast of players: Bill Spivey, Shelby Linville, Bobby Watson and Frank Ramsey.
Here's everything you need to know about the 1950-51 Wildcats.
Coach: Adolph Rupp
Record: 32-2 (14-0)
Conference Finish: 1st
Conference Tournament Finish: Lost in conference tournament championship
Kentucky's roster turnover before the 1950-51 season
Kentucky went 25-5 (11-2 SEC) in the 1950 season in the season following the Wildcats' second straight national championship. The 'Cats won the SEC regular season championship and conference tournament title but they lost 89-50 to CCNY in the first round of the 1950 NIT before CCNY went on to win the NCAA tournament.
After the season, Kentucky lost the following players from its roster:
- James Line, forward: 13.1 ppg
- Dale Barnstable, guard: 6.0 ppg
- Leonard Pearson, guard: 3.0 ppg
- Reed Morgan, forward: 1.9 ppg
- Garland Townes, guard: 1.3 ppg
- Roger Day, forward: 1.3 ppg
- Arlan King, forward: 1.1 ppg
- Walter Whittaker, guard: 0.8 ppg
Kentucky added the following players to its varsity roster in the fall of 1950:
- Frank Ramsey, guard
- Cliff Hagan, forward
- Lou Tsioropoulos, forward
- Dwight Price, forward
Here is Kentucky's roster from the 1950-51 season
Kentucky's player stats from the 1950-51 season
Kentucky's AP Top 25 poll rankings from 1950-51
The 1951 NCAA tournament bracket
Kentucky won its third national championship with a 68-58 win against Kansas State in the title game.
This year's tournament was the first to have 16 teams, as the size doubled. Kentucky's Bill Spivey took Most Outstanding Player honors.
1951 NCAA tournament: Bracket
Kentucky's complete 1950-51 schedule breakdown
Dec. 1, 1950 – Kentucky 73, West Texas A&M 43
"The Wildcats, who had captured 84 in a row in historic Alumni Gym, thrashed a big but slow and inept West Texas State, 73-43," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "This opening game of the Wildcats' 1950-'51 season was the first in the new multi-million dollar coliseum. And the crowd of 10,000 which it attracted is the biggest ever to see a regular season's basketball game in the state. But even that mark is expected to be shattered next Saturday when the Wildcats formally dedicate their magnificent building against Purdue. Scoring was well apportioned among the Wildcats tonight, with 7-foot Bill Spivey taking honors with 18."
Dec. 9, 1950 – Kentucky 70, Purdue 52
"The Wildcats notched victory No. 86 straight on the home floor against a good, well-coached and plucky but outmanned Purdue," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "Purdue made a close basketball game of it for 10 minutes, grabbing 3-0 and 7-3 leads before the Wildcats matched Purdue speed and surpassed the Boilermakers in sharpshooting."
Dec. 12, 1950 – Kentucky 67, Xavier 56
"Seven-foot Bill Spivey tallied 23 points for Kentucky against Xavier, making 16 during the first half," reported the AP. "However, Xavier held Kentucky to a two-point edge at halftime after the lead had changed hands four times. A 10-point Wildcat barrage early in the second half gave Kentucky a lead Xavier was unable to overcome."
Dec. 14, 1950 – Kentucky 85, Florida 37
"Coach Adolp Rupp's Wildcats began pulling away before five minutes were gone in the tilt and took a 24-8 margin midway of the initial half," reported the AP. "They extended this to a 58-16 advantage at halftime. Rupp pulled his first string from the contest five minutes before the midway point and it never saw action during the remainder of the game."
Dec. 16, 1950 – Kentucky 68, Kansas 39
"Seven-foot Bill Spivey turned in a masterful performance here tonight as unbeaten Kentucky blasted Kansas from the nation's basketball elite with an astounding 68-39 victory before a crowd of 13,000," wrote The Owensboro Messenger's Bill Hudson. "It was evident from the start that Spivey had Clyde Lovellette, the fabulous Kansas skyscraper, bottled in a jug and the stopper in his hand. The giant Kentuckian, meanwhile, was scoring freely and wound up with 22 big points."
Dec. 23, 1950 – Kentucky 43, No. 13 St. John's 37
"It was not until midway in the second half that the Wildcats could open up the furiously fought even contest and forge to any decent sized lead," reported the AP. "St. John's, a nine-point underdog, stunned a horde of Kentucky holiday rooters by battling their way to a 19-16 lead early in the second half after holding the Wildcats even at intermission."
Dec. 30, 1950 – Kentucky 69, Syracuse 59
"Kentucky trailed for 22 minutes, then rallied in the second half to defeat Syracuse 69-59 and win consolation honors in the Sugar Bowl basketball tournament," reported the AP. "In the first half of the Kentucky-Syracuse game, it appeared that Kentucky, the nation's number one quintet going into this tourney, would go down to its second straight defeat in two nights."
Jan. 5, 1951 – Kentucky 79, Auburn 35
"(Adolph) Rupp sent his reserves into the tilt during the entire last eight minutes but the victory margin continued to mount," reported the AP. "The Auburn five could scrape together only three field goals and seven charity tosses during the entire first half while the Cats' total climbed to 41."
Jan. 8, 1951 - Kentucky 63, DePaul 55
"Kentucky pulled through to a 63-55 basketball victory over DePaul at Memorial Coliseum here last night although the Chicago cagers were never far behind and threatened at several times to dump Coach Adolph Rupp's Wildcats," reported the AP. "Kentucky jumped into a 10-0 lead at the end of the first four minutes of play and led throughout but never by a very large margin."
Jan. 13, 1951 – Kentucky 65, Alabama 48
"Alabama played a deliberate game at the outset, hoping to control the ball and keep Kentucky's scoring opportunities at a minimum," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "Kentucky, however, hopped to a 10-4 lead, with (Bobby) Watson accruing six of those points from in close. But for the rest of the half, 'Bama doggedly stuck with the sluggish, poor passing Wildcats, who by now were playing Alabama's game. At intermission it was 27-20, Kentucky."
Jan. 15, 1951 – Kentucky 69, Notre Dame 44
"The Wildcats rolled up a 16-point lead before Notre Dame found the basket," reported the AP. "After that the Irish rallied to the attack and climbed to within three points of Kentucky at halftime, 29-26. Soon after the second half began, however, Kentucky achieved a 13-poinot margin and was 20 points in the lead midway in the half."
Jan. 20, 1951 – Kentucky 70, Tennessee 45
"Kentucky's Wildcats won satisfying revenge from its number one Southeastern conference basketball rival here tonight by handing Tennessee a 70 to 45 defeat," reported the AP. "It was Tennessee whose upset victory had snapped a 44-game conference winning streak for the Wildcats last year. Despite its comfortable ranking as number two team in the nation, the Kentucky quintet went on the floor in top playing form, took an early lead and was never threatened."
Jan. 22, 1951 – Kentucky 82, Georgia Tech 61
"Tech's 61 points were the most scored against Kentucky this season but they weren't near enough," reported the AP. "Kentucky's shooting aim was 39.6 per cent [sic] accurate. Neither five regarded defense as anything to worry about. Coach Adolph Rupp of Kentucky said his quint played very well offensively but that its defensive performance was the worst of the season."
Jan. 27, 1951 – Kentucky 74, Vanderbilt 49
"Capt. Walt Hirsch paced Kentucky with 17 points, but two Owensboro, Ky., boys, Bobby Watson and Cliff Hagan, really poured it on," reported the AP. "The diminutive Watson hit four field goals in the first six minutes, while his towering mates held Vanderbilt to none. Then sub Bob White, a Commodore midget, hit one but the Wildcats were off to a 13-4 lead. Watson scored 16 points."
Jan. 29, 1951 – Kentucky 104, Tulane 68
"Records set by Kentucky were for most points scored by SEC team, 104, and most field goals, 43," reported the UP. "Records set by both clubs were total points scored , 172, and field goals by both teams, 70. The Wildcats were red-hot all of the way as they opened up in a 24-10 lead before the game was seven minutes old and swept to a 61-37 halftime lead."
Jan. 31, 1951 – Kentucky 81, LSU 59
"Seven-foot Bill Spivey sparked the Southeastern Conference leaders with 24 points," reported the AP. "Bobby Watson pitched in with 21 points. Mostly on long field goals. Kentucky ranks No. 1 nationally in this week's Associated Press poll."
Feb. 2, 1951 – Kentucky 80, Mississippi State 60
"Kentucky's basketball team defeated Mississippi State 80-60 in a game at Starkville, Miss.," reported The Courier-Journal. "But just how the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll achieved its victory was unknown outside Starkville. Wire and telephone communication facilities there, were knocked out by ice and snow, and there had been no contact with the city for two days. Road conditions were deplorable."
Feb. 3, 1951 – Kentucky 86, Ole Miss 39
"Scoring was well divided as the Wildcats, unchallenged on their five-game road trip, captured their 18th victory in 19 games," reported the AP. "It was their 10th win against no losses in Southeastern Conference play. Despite the fact that Ole Miss attempted to play a slowed-down, possession type of game, Bobby Watson of Owensboro and Frank Ramsey of nearby Madisonville chipped in 20 points each."
Feb. 9, 1951 – Kentucky 75, Georgia Tech 42
"Led by the long-range sniping of diminutive Bobby Watson and the under-the-boards work of aggressive Shelby Linville, Bill Spivey and 'Skippy' Whitaker, the Cats coasted to their 19th win of the season and their 11th straight victory in conference competition," reported The Courier-Journal. "The victory over Coach Roy McArthur's cagers represented the Rupp Raiders' 93rd consecutive home court triumph and bettered by 11 points the margin of defeat inflicted on Tech in their first meeting of the current campaign at Atlanta."
Feb. 13, 1951 – Kentucky 78, Xavier 51
"In the Kentucky-Xavier game (Bill) Spivey had 39 points with a minute left," reported the AP. "He and Xavier's Gene Smith tangled under the basket. A personal foul was called on Smith and a technical foul on Spivey. Spivey missed the free throw but with five seconds remaining tallied one of two free throws on Smith's fifth personal for the 40th point. Kentucky led 36-22 at the half and had a shooting percentage of 27.7 to Xavier's 24.1"
Feb. 17, 1951 – Kentucky 86, Tennessee 61
"The big man, Bill Spivey, once against was the big show," reported The Courier-Journal. "The 7-footer led the Wildcats to their 95th straight triumph on the home floor by scoring 29 points before he left with five minutes of playing time remaining. And he hit 'em the hard way – with hook shots, pushed and spins, mostly."
Feb. 19, 1951 – Kentucky 60, DePaul 57
"Kentucky's Wildcats had a tough time last night with the Blue Demons of DePaul in Chicago but finally eked out a 60-57 decision in the final moments of play," wrote the Middlesboro Daily News' Julian Pitzer. "The Cats now have but two games left, both at home, and should win each handily."
Feb. 23, 1951 – Kentucky 88, Georgia 41
"Coach Adolph Rupp cleared the bench tonight as a sharpening Kentucky routed Georgia 88-41 before 9,000 spectators," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "All the Wildcats except one managed to break into the scoring column. The big scorer was Capt. Walter Hirsch. The speedy, tricky Hirsch dumped in 21 points before he left with 12 minutes to play."
Feb. 24, 1951 – Kentucky 89, Vanderbilt 57
"The Southeastern Conference basketball record book, virtually a chronicle of Wildcat hardwood feats, received four more entries under the name of Kentucky here tonight," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "Blending charity with a sharp effort, the Wildcats raced over Vanderbilt 89-57 before a standing room only crowd of 13,500. And it taking their 14th loop victory, the Kentuckians set a new record of S.E.C. triumphs without a defeat."
March 1, 1951 (SEC tournament) – Kentucky 92, Mississippi State 70
"Mississippi State wasn't supposed to extend Kentucky. But the crackshot Maroons didn't refer to the dope book as they piled up the most points scored against Kentucky this season and helped the Wildcats set a number of tournament scoring records," reported the AP. "The two-team output of 162 points shaded the old one-game mark placed in the books last year when Tennessee edged Louisiana State, 81-79. State hugged close to the pace in a free-scoring first half but let the Wildcats pull away in the fading stages to lead at the half by 48-32."
March 2, 1951 (SEC tournament) – Kentucky 84, Auburn 54
"Kentucky's Wildcats started cold against Auburn and played sluggishly as compared to their customary performance, but after warming up to their task held the Plainsmen comfortably off the pace," wrote The Messenger's Kyle Vance. "Soph Star Cliff Hagan led the Wildcat attack for the second straight night, canning 25 points. Seven-footer Bill Spivey returned to the lineup after a one-game absence due to tonsilitis and scored 23."
March 3, 1951 (SEC tournament) – Kentucky 82, Georgia Tech 56
March 3, 1951 (SEC tournament) – Vanderbilt 61, Kentucky 57
"Vanderbilt crumbled Kentucky's basketball castle tonight in a spectacular upset, 61-57, in the finals of the Southeastern Conference tournament," reported the AP. "The Vandy Commodores thus reversed two one-sided losses to the nation's number one basketball power during the season to pull what probably will go down as this season's prime upset. They wrapped knots in the Wildcats' usually prolific scoring machine and came through with a sharp attack of their own to lead much of the way and always come back when the Kentuckians got on top."
March 13, 1951 – Kentucky 97, Loyola Chicago 61
"Kentucky's tune-up for the NCAA title playoffs resulted in a 97-61 victory over Loyola of Chicago in their post-season basketball game here last night," reported the AP. "It was the 28th triumph of the season for the nationally top ranking Kentucky. It has lost only two games, to St. Louis and Vanderbilt."
March 20, 1951 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 79, Louisville 68
"High-scoring Kentucky won as expected last night against Louisville 79-68, but was given the battle of its life until the last eight minutes," reported the AP. "The Wildcats then rallied to win going away."
March 22, 1951 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 59, No. 9 St. John's 43
"'We made a couple of mechanical mistakes and errors of judgment in the first half but otherwise we didn't play too poorly,' (Adolph) Rupp said. 'One exception is Bill Spivey. He didn't play his usual game at all and one of the fouls he drew was just stupid.' The seven-foot Spivey, Kentucky's All-American center, scored only 12 points. Wildcat guards Bobby Watson and Frank Ramsey took up the slack," reported The Courier-Journal.
March 24, 1951 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 76, No. 5 Illinois 74
"Shelby Linville's nerve-stabbing goal in the last 18 seconds gave mighty Kentucky a close-shave 76-74 victory over Illinois tonight in the eastern finals of the NCAA basketball tournament," reported the AP. "The nation's No. 1 team and heavy title favorite thus qualified to meet the winner of tonight's game between Kansas State and Oklahoma A&M at Kansas City for the championship."
March 27, 1951 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 68, No. 4 Kansas State 58
"The Kentucky Wildcats are the national college basketball champions," reported the UP. "Voted the nation's No. 1 team at the end of the regular season, the ball-hawks from the Bluegrass put the title under lock and key last night with a tremendously impressive 68 to 58 victory over Kansas State in the final round of the NCAA tournament. It was the third NCAA title for Kentucky in four years – and Kentucky is the only school to win it three times."
Kentucky's 1950-51 individual player awards, honors
- 1951 Final Four Most Outstanding Player
- 1951 consensus First Team All-American
- 1951 Third Team All-American
Kentucky players drafted into the NBA
1952 NBA Draft
- No. 45 – Skippy Whitaker, Indianapolis Olympians
- No. 56 – Bobby Watson, Milwaukee Hawks
1953 NBA Draft
- No. 7 – Frank Ramsey, Boston Celtics
- No. 13 – Cliff Hagan, Boston Celtics
- No. 24 – Lou Tsioropoulos, Boston Celtics
1957-58 Kentucky Wildcats Quick Facts
Seven years after its last national title, Kentucky won the NCAA tournament again, marking its fourth title in 11 years. From the start of the NCAA tournament in 1939 through 1958, no other men's basketball program had more than two national championships (Indiana, Oklahoma A&M and San Francisco) — half as many as Kentucky.
Here's everything you need to know about Kentucky's 1958 national championship team.
Coach: Adolph Rupp
Record: 23-6 (12-2)
Conference Finish: 1st
Kentucky's roster turnover before the 1957-58 season
In the 1956-57 season, Kentucky went 23-5 (12-2 SEC), winning the conference and advancing to the Mideast Regional final, where the Wildcats lost to Michigan State. After the season, Kentucky lost the following players:
- Garry Calvert, 5-11, guard: 15.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg
- Ray Mills, 6-4, forward: 4.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg
- John Brewer, 6-3, forward: 3.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg
- John Hardwich, 6-3, forward: 0.7 ppg, 0.7 rpg
- Jay Bayless, 6-4, forward: 0.0 ppg, 0.5 rpg
The Wildcats then added the following players to their varsity roster in the fall of 1957:
- Phil Johnson, 6-5, center
- Don Mills, 6-7, center
- Lowell Hughes, 6-0, guard
- Abe Collinsworth, 6-3, guard
Kentucky's roster from the 1957-58 season
|Billy Ray Cassady||Sr.||Guard||6-2|
Kentucky's player stats from the 1957-58 season
|Bill Ray Cassady||14||1.1||2.5||.429||.667||2.4||0.7|
Kentucky's AP Top 25 poll rankings from 1957-58
The 1958 NCAA tournament bracket
The 1958 NCAA tournament finished with Kentucky earning its fourth national title. The Wildcats got by Seattle and Elgin Baylor in the final, 84-72.
Baylor picked up Most Outstanding Player honors. Kansas State and Temple also made the Final Four.
1958 NCAA tournament: Bracket
Kentucky's complete 1957-58 schedule breakdown
Dec. 2, 1957 – Kentucky 78, Duke 74
"Kentucky had to claw and scratch to outlast Duke, 78-74, in its basketball opener Monday night after falling behind with only two minutes left to play," reported the AP. "A goal and three successive foul shots by Vernon Hatton provided Kentucky's victory margin after a basket by Bucky Allen that sent Duke ahead for the only time in the last half. Duke refused to play dead after three times falling behind by nine points, twice in the first half and again midway in the last."
Dec. 4, 1957 – Kentucky 61, Ohio State 54
"After erecting a tight defense around Ohio State's 6-foot-6 center Frank Howard, the winners unleashed their scoring punch: Vernon Hatton and John Crigler," reported the AP. "Hatton came through with 20 points and Crigler notched 22, most of them during the crucial second half when the lead changed hands eight times and was tied five times. Howard was held to seven points."
Dec. 7, 1957 – Kentucky 85, Temple 83 (3OT)
"Vernon Hatton's incredible, 47-foot field goal with one second left in the first overtime and his six points in the third overtime gave courageous Kentucky a heart-pounding 85-83 victory over valiant Temple here Saturday night," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "This throbber – which will be recorded among basketball's all-time classics – was an uphill struggle for the Wildcats virtually all the tense 55 minutes."
Dec. 9, 1957 – Maryland 71, Kentucky 62
"Maryland's come-back kids taught Kentucky's Wildcats a lesson in scoring last night as they upset Kentucky 71-62," reported the AP. "Maryland, paced by John Nacincik with 20 points, trailed 54-50 with 9:23 remaining in the game. But they tied the score for the 19th time at 56-all and went ahead to stay. The Wildcats, ranked third in the nation in this week's Associated Press poll, were tied up for the rest of the half by Maryland defenses."
Dec. 14, 1957 – Kentucky 73, No. 9 Saint Louis 60
"The more experienced and smoother Kentucky club was led by Adrian Smith, a clever six-foot guard who tossed in 21 points," reported the AP. "Johnny Cox pumped in 19 for the Wildcats and Vern Hatton, the club's leading scorer, had 16."
Dec. 16, 1957 – SMU 65, Kentucky 64
"Southern Methodist is the first Southwest Conference team ever to lick the Wildcats," reported the AP. "SMU did it with more accurate shooting and a freeze in the fading minutes. Lanky Rick Herrscher led the Mustang scoring with 22 points. Kentucky had a height advantage and pretty well controlled the backboards, but the Wildcat field goal average was only .391 compared to SMU's .482."
Dec. 20, 1957 – No. 8 West Virginia 77, Kentucky 70
"Shooting like hungry squirrel hunters, the Mountaineers bagged a 19-point lead and then fought off a blazing Kentucky rally for a 77-70 victory here Friday night," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "The triumph sent the Mountaineers into Saturday night's final round of the University of Kentucky Invitational Tournament against North Carolina ... There wasn't much the Cats could do, either, against the rifle-like shooting of the invaders the first half. They hit on 50 per cent [sic] of their shots."
Dec. 21, 1957 – Kentucky 78, No. 10 Minnesota 58
"Except for a 2-1 lead by Minnesota – which now has lost its second game in five outings, both in this tourney – Kentucky led all the way," reported The Courier-Journal. "The Wildcats, sparked by Vernon Hatton's 21 points and Adrian Smith's 19, barged to a 23-15 lead after 10 minutes of play and fronted the Gophers 38-25 at the halftime."
Dec. 23, 1957 – Kentucky 92, Utah State 64
"Willing but outmanned, the Aggies managed to stay even for 10 minutes wit a Kentucky that mentally appeared to be giving its Yule gift list a last-minute check," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "During this time, the hustling and keen-shooting Aggies trailed by just one points at 22-21. Indeed, they managed to cut a 10-4 U.K. lead and go ahead 14-13 as the Wildcats were filled with little more spirit than the Christmas variety."
Dec. 30, 1957 – Kentucky 75, Loyola Chicago 42
"Inflicting the third defeat against five victories upon the outclassed Ramblers, Kentucky turned in a keen defensive effort," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "That, plus a poor shooting Loyola which sank just 20.3 per cent [sic] of its shots, resulted in the Wildcats holding a foe to the lowest amount of points for the season."
Jan. 4, 1958 – Kentucky 76, Georgia Tech 60
"The Ramblin' Wrecks of Georgia Tech rambled with Kentucky for 15 minutes and then got piled up in the wreckage of a 76-60 defeated here Saturday night," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "Thus the Wildcats got off to a fast – although sloppy – start toward their 18th undisputed Southeastern Conference championship in their first league effort of the season. Georgia Tech playing a controlled offense and not wasting shots, managed to stay with Kentucky for 15 minutes. The Wildcats led here by just four points at 29-25."
Jan. 6, 1958 – Kentucky 86, Vanderbilt 81
"Kentucky, ninth in the nation, edged Vanderbilt 86-81 in a close contest," reported the AP. "Earl Adkins, a substitute, scored 25 points for the Wildcats. Jim Henry had 24 for Vanderbilt."
Jan. 11, 1958 – Kentucky 97, LSU 52
"Slashing through riddled Louisiana State's defense for driving layups, the Wildcats sped to a 59-31 halftime lead en route to an easy 97-52 victory," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "This allowed (Adolph Rupp) some moments of recklessness. For, in substituting lavishly this second chapter before an assemblage of 11,300, he went so far as to have centers Ed Beck, 6-7, and Don Mills, 6-8, in the game at the same time briefly. All told, he employed 14 players. It was that kind of a contest – using the word loosely, of course – as Kentucky annexed its third victory against no defeats in Southeastern Conference play."
Jan. 13, 1958 – Kentucky 86, Tulane 50
"U.K.'s clinging defense, though, was the big factor, forcing the Greenies to fire off balance as Kentucky annexed its 11th triumph in 14 games overall," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "Now 2-2 in the leageu and 7-6 for the season, Tulane was in the ball game just six minutes. The Greenies were tied with the Wildcats 9-9 after that span."
Jan. 18, 1958 – Kentucky 77, No. 13 Tennessee 68
"Kentucky's Cox' Army – Johnny Cox – shelled Tennessee with 30 points as the Wildcats conquered the battling Volunteers 77-68 here Saturday night," wrote The Courier-Journal's Larry Boeck. "As in all good Armies, though defense was also essential and the supply lines of rebounding must be maintained. The hustling, hard-working Wildcats provided all of this – for some 30-minutes, anyway – in an outstanding team effort."
Jan. 27, 1958 – Georgia Tech 71, Kentucky 52
"Georgia Tech ruined Kentucky's perfect Southeastern Conference record Monday night with a 71-52 basketball victory over the Wildcats," reported the AP. "After going out at halftime trailing 31-33, Tech came back in the second half and with 12 minutes left led Kentucky 47-41. The Yellow Jackets continued to press the Wildcats and on numerous occasions stole the ball."
Jan. 29, 1958 – Kentucky 74, Georgia 55
"The Kentucky Wildcats moved behind the shooting of co-captain Vernon Hatton and reserve Earl Adkins tonight to whip Georgia 74-55 and regain first place in the Southeastern Conference basketball race," reported the AP. "It was the sixth SEC victory against one loss for Kentucky."
Jan. 31, 1958 – Kentucky 78, Florida 56
"A hometown product for University of Kentucky, Vernon Hatton gave a magnificent away-from-home performance in leading the Wildcats to a 78-56 lashing of Florida here Friday night," reported The Courier-Journal. "The Lexington guard set a season high for Wildcats in points with 35 and in field goals with 16 in igniting a 49-point second-half explosion by the Kentuckians. That pulled the Cats away from a slimmish 29-20 halftime lead and allowed them to cruise to their 14th victory in 18 games."
Feb. 8, 1956 – Kentucky 96, Ole Miss 65
"Kentucky raced to a 15-point advantage in less than 10 minutes and pulled up with a comfortable 57-34 advantage at the half as the Wildcats hit an even 50 per cent [sic] of their goal attempts to this point," reported the AP. "Ole Miss never had the lead. After gaining a 3-3 deadlock they were out-scored 16-2 in one stretch to fall far off the pace."
Feb. 10, 1958 – Kentucky 72, No. 17 Mississippi State 62
"Last night's victory came after the Wildcats stalled for the final eight minutes, connecting on 12 of 17 free throw attempts they netted on Mississippi State's desperate fouling," reported the AP. "Adrian Smith sparked the freeze play, getting 10 of his 11 points on free throws in the final minutes."
Feb. 15, 1958 – Loyola Chicago 57, Kentucky 56
"Art McZier wheeled in a 15-foot shot after taking an out-of-bounds pass in the last second of action Saturday night and boosted Loyola of Chicago to a 57-56 upset of Kentucky in the opener of a Chicago Stadium basketball doubleheader," reported the AP. "Loyola defeated Kentucky for the first time since 1949, and avenged a 75-42 trouncing at Lexington earlier in the season."
Feb. 17, 1958 – Kentucky 65, Vanderbilt 61
"The lead changed hands eleven times, and not until the final six minutes did Kentucky eke out a five-point lead," reported the AP. "Even then, the Commodores twice came within two points before Vernon Hatton scored the Wildcats' final two points on free throws with 19 seconds left."
Feb. 22, 1958 – Kentucky 45, Alabama 43 (OT)
"John Crigler's long field goal with two seconds left gave Kentucky a 45-43 victory over Alabama in an overtime Southeastern Conference basketball game Saturday night," reported the AP. "Kentucky had to come from behind to defeat the fired-up Alabama team playing without its suspended scoring star, Jack Kubiszyn."
Feb. 24, 1958 – Auburn 64, Kentucky 63
"It's still Kentucky by a nose in the race for the Southeastern Conference basketball championship," reported the AP. "But Auburn is coming up so far there may be a last minute tie. The Wildcats have one more game to go and they need just one more victory to clinch their 18th SEC title. They are 11-2 in conference play and a victory over Tennessee Saturday night will do it."
March 1, 1958 – Kentucky 77, Tennessee 66
"Adrian Smith, subbing for Earl Adkins, pumped in 18 points to pace Kentucky's attack," reported the AP. "Runner-up for the Wildcats was John Crigler, with 16 ... Kentucky got off to a running start in the first half, Tennessee catching up only once to knot the count at 11-all after 7.5 minutes. Kentucky then moved ahead again, holding a nine-point lead at one point during the first half, 31-22."
March 14, 1958 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 94, Miami (OH) 70
"Kentucky, seeking an unprecedented fourth NCAA title, had this game under control by the middle of the first half but it wasn't until the late stages that the Wildcats made it decisive," reported the AP. "The halftime score was 50-35 and the Wildcats led by 10 to 18 points until the closing minutes when they attained their greatest margin."
March 15, 1958 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 89, No. 8 Notre Dame 56
"Kentucky, driving hard and screening well on offense while containing Notre Dame's high-low double post offense, gained the lead for keeps at 5-3," wrote the Messenger-Inquirer's Tom Duncan. "The Wildcats, after leading 43-31 at halftime, turned the game into a runaway midway the last half. After an exchange left it 50-38, (Vernon) Hatton, who scored 26, hit twice and Kentucky was on its way to a 63-42 margin with 9:41 to go."
March 21, 1958 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 61, No. 5 Temple 60
"Temple led by 4 points at 59 to 55 after erasing a seven-point U.K. first-half lead and a five-point Wildcat early second-half margin," reported The Courier-Journal. "Then, with the count 59 to 55, Temple, but with Kentucky still fighting hard, Coach Harry Litwack of the Owls jumped from the bench, stretched out both hands, palms upward, in a slow-down signal, and Temple went into a stall. This was its undoing."
March 22, 1958 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 84, No. 18 Seattle 72
"Kentucky's fourth championship is an extension of the Wildcats' own NCAA record," reported the AP. "No other school has won more than two. The Wildcats, all the way back to the top level of national powers, also hold NCAA records for appearances with 10, for games won with 20, and most consecutive victories in tournament play with 12. ...With eight minutes to go in the half and Seattle leading 29-18, Kentucky began its second comeback within 24 hours. It was (Vernon) Hatton and (Johnny) Cox, Cox and Hatton, with a point or two from Johnny Crigler now and then, as the Wildcats pulled to within three points at halftime 39-36. But try as they would, they couldn't catch up until the infractions kept (Elgin) Baylor from playing his usual game. Kentucky, finishing with a 23-6 record – the same as Seattle – solved the Chieftains' hurried zone with little trouble, thanks to Cox's dead-eye one handers from the outside."
Kentucky players drafted into the NBA
1958 NBA Draft
- No. 10 – Vernon Hatton, Cincinnati Royals
- No. 28 – Johnny Cox, New York Knicks
- No. 86 – Adrian Smith, Cincinnati Royals
1959 NBA Draft
- No. 30 – Johnny Cox, New York Knicks
1960 NBA Draft
- No. 96 – Don Mills, Cincinnati Royals
1977-78 Kentucky Wildcats Quick Facts
Twenty years after Adolph Rupp's last national championship at Kentucky, the Wildcats claimed their fifth national championship after beating five teams ranked in the top 20 of the final AP poll during the 1978 NCAA tournament. Kentucky, coached by Joe B. Hall and led by a core group of seniors, was ranked No. 1 in the country almost the entire season and lost just twice — both times on the road and once in overtime.
Here's everything you need to know about Kentucky's 1978 national championship team.
Coach: Joe B. Hall
Record: 30-2 (16-2)
Conference Finish: 1st
Kentucky's roster turnover before the 1977-78 season
In the 1976-77 season, Kentucky went 26-4 (16-2 SEC) under fifth-year head coach Joe B. Hall, winning the conference and advancing to the East Regional final in the NCAA tournament, where the Wildcats lost to North Carolina.
- Larry Johnson, 6-3, guard: 10.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg
- Merion Haskins, 6-4, forward: 1.5 ppg, 1.2 rpg
In the fall of 1977, Kentucky added the following players to its roster:
- Chuck Aleksinas, 6-11, center
- LaVon Williams, 6-7, forward
- Fred Cowan, 6-8, forward
- Scott Courts, 6-10, center
- Chris Gettelfinger, 6-2, guard
Kentucky's roster from the 1977-78 season
Kentucky's player stats from the 1977-78 season
Kentucky's AP Top 25 poll rankings from 1977-78
The 1978 NCAA tournament bracket
In 1978, Kentucky won its fifth national championship, denying Duke its first title in the national final. The Wildcats were led by Jack Givens, who won Most Outstanding Player after scoring 41 points in the title game.
This was college basketball's first postseason to feature seeding of any kind and the final tournament to have 32 teams in it. By 1979, the entire bracket was seeded and the field expanded to 40 teams before increasing again to 48 in 1980.
The 1978 NCAA tournament marked Notre Dame's first trip to the Final Four. Arkansas was the fourth national semifinalist.
1978 NCAA tournament: Bracket
Kentucky's complete 1977-78 schedule breakdown
Nov. 26, 1977 – Kentucky 110, SMU 86
"All (Kyle) Macy did in his debut was hit seven of 15 from the floor, score 16 points, pass for 10 assists, play solid defense and provide the kind of leadership the Wildcats need to fulfill their role as one of the nation's top teams," wrote The Courier-Journal's Billy Reed. "He hit a jumper from the deep corner to put UK over the 100-point mark and got a standing ovation from the crowd of 23,472 when coach Joe Hall took him out moments later."
Dec. 5, 1977 – Kentucky 78, Indiana 64
"Jack Givens scored 22 points and Rick Robey added 20 as top-ranked Kentucky out-muscled Indiana 78-64 in a college basketball game Monday night," reported the AP. "Kentucky took the lead for good when Dwane Casey scored on a driving layup to make it 24-22 with 4:05 remaining in the first half."
Dec. 10, 1977 – Kentucky 73, No. 19 Kansas 66
"Kyle Macy canned 15 points and Mike Phillips added 14 more to spark a second-half surge that carried No. 1 Kentucky to a 73-66 victory over No. 19 Kansas Saturday night," reported the AP. "Kentucky, 3-0, overcame an early Kansas lead to post a 36-33 halftime advantage and then quickly mounted a nine-point bulge after intermission."
Dec. 12, 1977 – Kentucky 84, South Carolina 65
"Rick Robey, who led all scorers with 19 points and who keyed a scoring spurt midway through the second half, said the dedication for (Adolph) Rupp was an emotional factor," reported the UPI. "'Although none of us actually played for him, we all knew what he meant to this program,' Robey said."
Dec. 16, 1977 – Kentucky 114, Portland State 88
"Senior forward Jack Givens scored 26 points to lead top-ranked Kentucky to a 114-88 victory over a Freeman Williams-led Portland State in the University of Kentucky Invitational Tournament Friday night," reported the UPI. "The Wildcats, now 5-0, will meet St. John's in Saturday night's championship final."
Dec. 17, 1977 – Kentucky 102, St. John's 72
"The victory was Kentucky's sixth in a row this year and gave the Cats their 18th title in the 25th renewal of this tournament," reported the AP. "Kentucky settled the game late in the first half, using a 20-6 surge over the final 5:52 to build a 46-28 halftime bulge. The Wildcats outscored St. John's 8-0 to open the second half and from there on it was only a question of the margin."
Dec. 23, 1977 – Kentucky 104, Iona 65
"When James Lee comes off the bench as the University of Kentucky's sixth man, the fans expect something exciting to happen," reported the Messenger-Inquirer. "The fans in Rupp Arena saw their expectations turn to reality Friday night as Lee led a first-half blitz that broke open a tight game and led to a 104-65 Wildcat rout of Iona. Lee scored 17 points, nine in the first half, and another substitute, freshmen center Chuck Aleksinas, chipped in with 12 points as Kentucky Coach Joe Hall went to his bench early to cancel out a lethargic start by the regulars."
Dec. 31, 1977 – Kentucky 73, No. 4 Notre Dame 68
"Guard Kyle Macy dropped in three clutch baskets and two free throws in the closing minutes Saturday afternoon to rally top-ranked Kentucky to a tense 73-68 college basketball victory over Notre Dame," reported the AP. "Macy, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, helped Kentucky, 8-0, overcome a 66-63 Notre Dame (lead) with a pair of 20-foot bombs and a baseline jumper as the Wildcats handed Notre Dame its second loss in nine starts."
Jan. 2, 1978 – Kentucky 72, Vanderbilt 59
"'We played like I thought we would and hoped we wouldn't,' said Kentucky coach Joe Hall after the top-ranked Wildcats' troubling 72-59 Southeastern conference basketball victory over Vanderbilt. 'We were flat, but that doesn't speak well of Vandy and I don't want to do that,' Hall said. 'They played a good game.'"
Jan. 7, 1978 – Kentucky 86, Florida 67
"In running its record to 10-0 in all games and 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference it is heavily favored to win, Kentucky played like a season team is supposed to when it comes to a place like Alligator Alley," wrote The Courier-Journal's Billy Reed. "Unruffled and professional, in other words. Even when Florida was still in striking distance in the second half, and the crowd was going stark-raving mad, the veteran Wildcats kept their cool."
Jan. 9, 1978 – Kentucky 101, Auburn 77
"Auburn Coach Bob Davis says the shellacking Kentucky gave his Tigers has convinced him that the Wildcats deserve their ranking as the No. 1 college basketball team in the country," reported the AP. "'They are certainly the No. 1 team in the country, there's no doubt in my mind,' Davis said Monday night after Kentucky blew the Tigers off the court before a sellout crowd in Memorial Stadium."
Jan. 14, 1978 – Kentucky 96, LSU 76
"Mike Phillips scored 18 of his 23 points in the first half Saturday afternoon to lead top-ranked Kentucky to a 96-76 rout of Louisiana State in a Southeastern Conference basketball game," reported the AP. "Phillips, a 6-foot-10 senior center, hit all seven of his first half field goal attempts and added four free throws as Kentucky, 12-0, settled the outcome by waltzing to a 55-28 halftime lead."
Jan. 16, 1978 – Kentucky 76, Ole Miss 56
"Mississippi, with precision first-half passing, seemed on the verge of unraveling the mystery of Kentucky's 1-3-1 zone defense in their Southeastern Conference battle, but the top-ranked Wildcats showed Rebel Coach Bob Weltlich that they had seen it all before," reported the AP. "'First and foremost, Kentucky doesn't allow things to bother them,' Weltlich said following the Wildcats' 76-56 victory Monday night."
Jan. 21, 1978 – Kentucky 75, Mississippi State 65
"Down 23 points at one time in the second half, Mississippi State closed within six, 69-63, with 1:08 left in the game, mostly on the long-range baskets of freshman Greg Grim," reported the AP. "Grim scored 15 points in the last nine minutes of the game. But Kentucky put the game away with six straight free throws by Kyle Macy, Jay Shidler and Truman Claytor, and increased its record to 14-0 overall and 6-0 in the SEC."
Jan. 23, 1978 – Alabama 78, Kentucky 62
"Bama executed it well, using a full-court press all the way, causing Kentucky to commit numerous offensive fouls and turnovers at critical points in the match," reported the AP. "Kentucky led at 8-6 early in the game, but the Tide hit 13 unanswered points in a row midway in the first half to take a 19-8 lead. The game was tied four times in the early stages. The Cats cut the lead down to three points with five minutes left in the half, but Kent Looney's jumper at the buzzer sent Alabama into intermission with a 41-32 advantage."
Jan. 30, 1978 – Kentucky 90, Georgia 73
"Kentucky...was a devastating machine early in the Georgia game, bolting to a 37-14 lead after 12:42 had elapsed," reported the AP. "'I thought I was at the Battle of the Bulge in that first 12 minutes,' said Coach John Guthrie of Georgia. 'One time one of their players ran over to the bench and started guarding me. I don't think I've ever seen a team play as well as thy did in the first 10 or 12 minutes.'"
Feb. 4, 1978 – Kentucky 88, Florida 61
"John Lotz is not a man of many words, being the kind of guy you tell the secret to the H-bomb to with no worry it would pass from his lips," wrote The Courier-Journal's Paul Borden. "Naturally, then, after his Florida basketball team fell apart before Kentucky's second-half blitz and lost 88-61 here last night, Lotz didn't have much to say. 'I don't know,' the coach replied when asked what happened the final half when Kentucky compiled its 27-point winning margin. 'There's not much I can say.'"
Feb. 6, 1978 – Kentucky 104, Auburn 81
"There are not enough words left to describe James Lee," reported The Advocate-Messenger. "Kentucky's 'Super Sub' played like an All-American for the pros. He hit from the outside, played defense, got the rebounds, handled the basketball and did whatever coach Joe Hall asked of him. He hit 10 of 17 shots from field and all five of his free throws to lead Kentucky with 25 points in only 27 minutes of action."
Feb. 11, 1978 – LSU 95, Kentucky 94 (OT)
"LSU lost its last chance to win in regulation when Willie Sims' forced jumper missed at the buzzer – some of the LSU fans conceded the UK would win in the extra period by getting up and heading for the exits," reported The Courier-Journal. "After all, didn't LSU have all those starters out? And, having earned a reprieve from their second execution of the season, didn't UK figure to pull it out? Well, that's not how it looked to some guys named Willie Sims, Jody Hultberg, Floyd Bailey and Riich Mattick. They have spent most of LSU's games this season sitting on the bench. Last night, though, they made the most of their opportunity to be heroes. The game had all kinds of turning points and big plays, but here's the stretch that finally turned the momentum in LSU's favor: Trailing 89-88, LSU took the lead on Hultberg's jumper from the side with 1:40 left in overtime."
Feb. 13, 1978 – Kentucky 64, Ole Miss 52
"The Wildcats, avenging a weekend loss to Louisiana State University, took a commanding 17 point lead in the second half," reported the UPI. "But with 7:27 remaining, the Rebels fought back to pull within seven points. The game with nip-and-tuck until the last 56 seconds with Ole Miss forced to foul to get the ball and Kentucky got five of six free throws to ice their 10th Southeastern Conference victory against two losses."
Feb. 15, 1978 – Kentucky 90, Tennessee 77
"Third-ranked Kentucky got 18 points from Rick Robey and strong performances from a pair of reserves as the Wildcats defeated Tennessee 90-77 in a Southeastern Conference basketball game Wednesday night," reported the AP. "The victory, which snapped a six-game losing streak to Tennessee, boosted Kentucky's record to 19-2 overall and 11-2 in the SEC."
Feb. 18, 1978 – Kentucky 58, Mississippi State 56
"'To beat Mississippi State twice is quite an accomplishment,' said (Joe) Hall, whose team won by 10 points a month ago at Starkville. 'Right now they look like the toughest team we'll have to face in the conference,'" reported The Courier-Journal.
Feb. 20, 1978 – Kentucky 97, Alabama 84
"The Wildcats atoned for a 78-62 mauling earlier in the season at Tuscaloosa, Ala., by scathing the Crimson Tide with 67 percent shooting and amassing a 47-31 halftime lead that was too much to overcome," reported the AP. "With Jack Givens scoring 10 of his 22 points in a decisive 18-3 first-half outburst, the Wildcats finally put away the scrappy Tide, mathematically eliminating them from the Southeastern Conference title chase."
Feb. 25, 1978 – Kentucky 68, Tennessee 57
"Behind Jack Givens' 18 points, second-ranked Kentucky clinched a share of its 31st Southeastern Conference basketball championship with a 68-57 regionally televised victory over Tennessee Saturday," reported the AP. "Mike Phillips added 13 points for the Wildcats in their first victory against the Vols on Tennessee's home court since the late Adolph Rupp retired in 1972."
Feb. 27, 1978 – Kentucky 78, Georgia 67
"The Wildcats laid an outright claim on their 31st Southeastern Conference basketball championship Monday night by building a 19-point forst half lead and holding on for a 78-67 triumph over Georgia," reported the AP. "'This was as good as we expected to play,' (Joe) Hall said."
March 4, 1978 – Kentucky 92, UNLV 70
"Rick Robey scored 26 points and Jack Givens added 22 as top-ranked Kentucky used a 9-0 run midway through the second half to begin a 92-70 rout of Nevada-Las Vegas Saturday afternoon," reported the AP. "Kentucky's deciding burst came with 6:15 remaining in the nationally televised game when two Givens free throws gave Kentucky a 72-62 lead."
March 6, 1978 – Kentucky 78, Vanderbilt 68
"Wildcat Coach Joe Hall said, 'I was disappointed in the type of game we played,'" reported the AP. "'Our defense was not a good effort and I think it was bad that we played this way in preparation for the tournament.'"
March 11, 1978 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 85, No. 13 Florida State 76
"Top-ranked Kentucky ripped off 14 straight points to come from behind and defeat Florida State 85-76," reported the AP. "Truman Claytor, who led Kentucky with 16 points, scored a layup during the Wildcat streak, while teammate Kyle Macy, who scored 14, hit two long jump shots. The Southeastern Conference champion Wildcats trailed 53-48 midway in the second half when they began their spurt, which put them ahead 62-53 with just under seven minutes left."
March 16, 1978 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 91, No. 19 Miami (OH) 69
"(Joe) Hall said, 'Our shooting (62 percent) in the first half was a big factor in the game but I also thought our defense was real good,'" reported The Advocate-Messenger. "'I think we showed tonight that we are back in the tourney frame of mind and with this kind of effort I believe we can play with anybody in the country.'"
March 18, 1978 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 52, No. 4 Michigan State 49
"Kyle Macy scored 18 points and sparked a late second-half comeback drive that brought top-ranked Kentucky a 52-49 basketball victory over Michigan State Saturday in the finals of the NCAA Mideast Regionals," reported the AP. "Macy, a sophomore transfer student from Purdue, scored nine points – all put two of them coming at the foul line – in the last 6:16 of the game as the Wildcats moved into the NCAA semifinals next Saturday in St. Louis."
March 25, 1978 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 64, No. 5 Arkansas 59
"Jack Givens scored 23 points, including a key breakaway layup in the last two minutes, helping topranked [sic] Kentucky hold off the game but foul-plagued Arkansas Razorbacks 64-59 Saturday in the semifinals of the NCAA basketball championships," reported the AP. "The Widlcats, 29-2, advanced to Monday night's title game against Duke, 27-6, which earlier beat Notre Dame 90-86 before a roaring crowd of 18,721 at the Checkerdome. Givens, a straight-shooting, muscular senior forward, was the key for the Southeastern Conference champion."
March 27, 1978 (NCAA tournament) – Kentucky 94, No. 7 Duke 88
"Jack Givens ended his college basketball career for Kentucky in style," reported the UPI. "The 6-foot-4 senior forward scored 41 points in Kentucky's 94-88 victory over Duke in Monday's NCAA championship game. He was voted the most outstanding player in the tournament. 'It was my night,' said a smiling Givens. 'Everything I was shooting was falling in, so I kept shooting. The guys gave me the ball when I was open. Without those guys looking for me, I wouldn't have been anything.'"
Kentucky's 1977-78 individual player awards, honors
- 1978 Final Four Most Outstanding Player
- 1978 Helms Foundation Player of the Year
- 1978 consensus Second Team All-American
- 1978 SEC Male Athlete of the Year
- 1978 consensus Second Team All-American
- 1978 Third Team All-SEC
Kentucky players drafted into the NBA
1978 NBA Draft
- No. 3 – Rick Robey, Indiana Pacers
- No. 16 – Jack Givens, Atlanta Hawks
- No. 39 – James Lee, Seattle SuperSonics
- No. 45 – Mike Phillips, New Jersey Nets
1979 NBA Draft
- No. 22 – Kyle Macy, Phoenix Suns
- No. 111 – Truman Claytor, Detroit Pistons
1980 NBA Draft
- No. 101 – LaVon Williams, Cleveland Cavaliers
- No. 183 – Jay Shidler, Chicago Bulls
1981 NBA Draft
- No. 127 – Fred Cowan, Houston Rockets
Kentucky's 1995-96 Quick Facts
Kentucky nearly went another 20 years before its next national championship, after it had won in 1958 and 1978. The Wildcats were ranked No. 1 in the preseason AP poll, never fell outside the top five in the poll and rattled off 27 wins in a row as part of a 34-2 campaign.
Here's everything you need to know about the Wildcats' 1996 championship team.
Coach: Rick Pitino
Record: 34-2 (16-0 SEC)
Conference Finish: 1st
Conference Tournament Finish: Lost in conference championship game
NCAA Tournament Seed: No. 1 seed
NCAA Tournament Region: Midwest Region
Kentucky's roster turnover before the 1995-96 season
In the 1994-95 season, Kentucky went 28-5 (14-2 SEC), winning the conference and earning a No. 1 seed, which culminated in an Elite Eight appearance, where the Wildcats lost to No. 2 seed North Carolina. Kentucky lost the following players after the 1995 season:
- Rodrick Rhodes, 6-6, forward: 12.9 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.6 rpg
- Andre Riddick, 6-9, center: 4.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg
- Chris Harrison, 6-1, guard: 3.3 ppg, 0.6 apg
- Scott Padgett, 6-9, forward: 2.0 ppg, 1.2 rpg
Kentucky added the following players to its roster in the fall of 1995:
- Ron Mercer, 6-7, forward
- Wayne Turner, 6-2, guard
- Nazr Mohammed, 6-10, center
- Oliver Simmons, 6-8, forward
- Jason Lathrem, 6-8, forward
Kentucky's 1995-96 roster
Here are Kentucky's player stats from the 1995-96 season
Scroll to the right to view the complete Kentucky stats.
Here's where Kentucky was ranked in the AP Top 25 poll
The 1996 NCAA tournament bracket
The 1996 NCAA tournament saw Kentucky march to the national title with a win against Syracuse in the final. The Wildcats won their games by 38, 24, 31, 20, 7 and 9 points.
Mississippi State and UMass also reached the Final Four, but the Minutemen's appearance in the national semifinals was later vacated. In one notable upset, No. 13 seed Princeton upset defending national champion No. 4 UCLA in the first round.
1996 NCAA tournament: Bracket
Kentucky's complete 1995-96 schedule breakdown
Nov. 24, 1995 – Kentucky 96, No. 14 Maryland 84
"Top-ranked Kentucky had a rough start and wasn't all that smooth near the finish, but the Wildcats opened the season Friday night with a 96-84 victory over No. 14 Maryland in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic," reported the AP. "The start didn't look much better for the Wildcats, who trailed 20-9 5:10 into the game. Then came the familiar swarming defense that ended the Terrapins' easy baskets on length-of-the-court passes."
Nov. 28, 1995 – No. 5 UMass 92, Kentucky 82
"Marcus Camby, a preseason All-American, proved to be more than just a slick shooter," reported the AP. "The 6-foot-11 junior was also an intimidator. Camby scored 32 points, 16 in each half, blocked five shots and pulled down nine rebounds as No. 5 Massachusetts opened its season with a 92-82 victory over No. 1 Kentucky in the Great Eight basketball festival Tuesday night. 'We were intimidated by Marcus Camby out there tonight, looking for him to block all our shots,' Kentucky coach Rick Pitino said."
Dec. 2, 1995 – Kentucky 89, Indiana 82
"Kentucky eliminated one early-season problem Saturday when it got a quick start and shot out to a 20-7 lead on Indiana," wrote the Messenger-Inquirer's Rich Suwanski. "In their two previous games, the Cats fell behind by double digits and played catch up all night. 'We came out and played with a lot of emotion,' said UK's Antoine Walker."
Dec. 6, 1995 – Kentucky 74, Green Bay 62
"Every time the Wildcats would build a lead, in would come fresh troops and the resultant lull gave an out-manned Phoenix time to recover its ground," wrote The Paducah Sun's Steve Millizer. "But the continuous wave of fresh bodies also wore the Phoenix down and left it open when Kentucky needed a surge to open up the lead. There are definite attractions and distractions to all these experiments, but who can blame (Rick) Pitino when he has so many buttons to push."
Dec. 9, 1995 – Kentucky 83, No. 16 Georgia Tech 60
"Fifth-ranked Kentucky got the lift it needed from No. 16 Georgia Tech. 'Every team needs to have great competition,' said forward Antoine Walker, who scored four points along with Wayne Turner in a 12-0 spurt that sparked Kentucky to an 83-60 victory Saturday night," reported the AP. "'It was good for us to play well, especially as a team.' Kentucky (4-1) was coming off a lackluster 74-62 victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay that brought harsh criticism from coach Rick Pitino for poor defensive play."
Dec. 16, 1995 – Kentucky 96, Morehead State 32
"'We were just so much more talented at every position,' said Kentucky coach Rick Pitino, trying mightily to keep a straight face and sound diplomatic. 'Morehead was just ... outmatched all over the court. They're a better team than they showed here. We made them look real bad. We were in a foul mood defensively and we were the wrong team for them to run into at this point in the season,'" wrote the Messenger-Inquirer's Jim Pickens.
Dec. 19, 1995 – Kentucky 118, Marshall 99
"Marshall learned early that it couldn't run with Kentucky," reported the AP. "The fourth-ranked Wildcats went on a 32-2 run in the first half and then coasted to a 118-99 victory over the Thundering Herd on Tuesday night in Freedom Hall. 'We were going so fast that nobody knew the score,' said Kentucky swingman Derek Anderson. 'We were scoring at will.'"
Dec. 23, 1995 – Kentucky 89, No. 25 Louisville 66
"Too much rebounding. Too much defensive pressure. Too much run-and-stun offense. Too much depth. Too much fan support. And way too much Tony Delk," reported the AP. "Fourth-ranked Kentucky had too much of everything Saturday afternoon as a national TV audience and Rupp Arena record crowd of 24,340 watched the slow-starting Wildcats roll past No. 25 Louisville 89-66."
Dec. 27, 1995 – Kentucky 90, Rider 65
"It was only a matter of time before Kentucky took control against Rider. It was 5:45 to be exact," reported the AP. "Rider took its only lead of the game at 14-12 on a four-point play by Deon Hames, and then it was all Wildcats as they went on to a 90-65 victory Wednesday night in the opening round of the ECAC Holiday Festival."
Dec. 29, 1995 – Kentucky 106, Iona 79
"Iona was in the locker room at halftime feeling pretty good about being down only 44-41 to No. 2 Kentucky," reported the AP. "Things changed quickly when the teams took the court again and the Wildcats went on to 106-79 victory Friday night in the championship game of the ECAC Holiday Festival."
Jan. 3, 1996 – Kentucky 89, South Carolina 60
"Kentucky guard Tony Delk proved again how strong his defense is," reported the AP. "Moments after shutting down South Carolina's guards, he shut down any talk of his rising stardom. 'There's no way I'm the focal point on this team. Kentucky's got a lot of great players who can score points on any night,' said Delk, who had 28 points as No. 2 Kentucky put away South Carolina 89-60 to open the Southeastern Conference season Wednesday night."
Jan. 6, 1996 – Kentucky 90, Ole Miss 60
"Second-ranked Kentucky more than matched Mississippi's intensity," reported the AP. "'We try to improve on the things we do well,' said Antoine Walker, who scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in leading the Wildcats to their 10th consecutive victory with a 90-60 win Saturday night. 'We try to match their intensity.' Kentucky came up with 13 steals and blocked 10 shots and Mississippi shot just 27 percent (17-of-64) and turned the ball over 24 times in its second straight loss."
Jan. 9, 1996 – Kentucky 74, No. 12 Mississippi State 56
"Against State, the Wildcats decided defense was the way to go," reported the AP. "'We turned it up and fatigued them,' Walter McCarty said of the Wildcats' pressure defense. 'We knew they had certain guys who played a lot of minutes. That is what we try to do, wear them down in the first half and turn it up after that.'"
Jan. 13, 1996 – Kentucky 61, Tennessee 44
"Calamities aside, UK still managed to hand Tennessee its worst loss of the season," reported The Courier-Journal. "But (Rick) Pitino was not impressed. Sloppy 17-point victories don't cut much mustard when you've already whipped an East Division rival, South Carolina, by 29 points and the West Division favorite, Mississippi State, by 18 – both on the road. 'We were a little physically under the weather tonight, but that's no excuse,' said Pitino the Perfectionist."
Jan. 16, 1996 – Kentucky 129, LSU 97
"It was the game of a lifetime – great scoring, great defense, great pressure and 86 points. But that was just the first half," reported the AP. "The second half of the Kentucky-LSU game wasn't bad, either, and the No. 2 Wildcats walked away with a 129-97 victory Tuesday night. 'We thought it was going to be anybody's ball game coming in, but our speed, passing – and you're not going to see many better shooting exhibitions – caused them tremendous problems,' Kentucky coach Rick Pitino said after his team stretched an 86-42 halftime cushion into the highest-scoring road game in the school's 93-year history."
Jan. 20, 1996 – Kentucky 124, TCU 80
"They've put up 253 points in their last two games, following the Cats 124-80 incineration of Texas Christian here Saturday," wrote the Messenger-Inquirer's Mark Mathis. "TCU's nicknamed the Horned Frogs, but instead of being like the amphibians in the beer commercial, who catch the truck, the TCU Frogs were squashed by the side of the road."
Jan. 24, 1996 – Kentucky 82, Georgia 77
"Rick Pitino won the rhetorical battle but nearly lost the basketball war," wrote The Courier-Journal's Mark Coomes. "His University of Kentucky Wildcats barely survived a skirmish at rugged Georgia last night, just as Pitino predicted. It took 29 points from star guard Tony Delk –and three late clutch plays by reserve swingman Allen Edwards – for the No. 2-ranked Wildcats to escape soldout Georgia Coliseum with an 82-77 victory."
Jan. 27, 1996 – Kentucky 89, South Carolina 57
"Second-ranked Kentucky ran over South Carolina," reported the AP. "Walter McCarty scored seven points during a devastating 30-2 run that powered Kentucky to an 89-57 victory in the Southeastern Conference on Saturday night. 'We are probably the best running team in the country,' said Kentucky coach Rick Pitino, who recorded his 300th career victory. 'I haven't seen every team play, but I feel we are able to execute as good as anyone when it comes to running.'"
Feb. 3, 1996 – Kentucky 77, Florida 63
"Jeff Sheppard didn't quit when the going got rough for No. 2 Kentucky," reported the AP. "The junior reserve guard, getting back in shape after spraining his ankle during a sledding accident, scored seven points during a 16-2 second-half spurt Saturday that carried the Wildcats past Florida 77-63 for their 17th consecutive victory."
Feb. 7, 1996 – Kentucky 120, Vanderbilt 81
"To play a perfect half of basketball, Kentucky would have to score on every possession and keep the opposition from scoring," reported The Advocate-Messenger. "Or at least that's what center Mark Pope thinks it would take to make a perfect half in coach Rick Pitino's mind. By that standard, Kentucky didn't hit perfection here Wednesday. By any other standard, though, the Cars did or at least came close. Second-ranked Kentucky dismantled host Vanderbilt 120-81. Vandy's only lead was at 2-0 and UK wiped that out with a 19-0 run."
Feb. 11, 1996 – Kentucky 88, Arkansas 73
"Arkansas couldn't go the distance with No. 2 Kentucky," reported the AP. "Kentucky finished with a 19-7 burst in coasting to an 88-73 victory Sunday, its first regular-season win over Arkansas since the Razorbacks joined the Southeast Conference in 1991. Arkansas scored seven straight points, closing to 69-66 on Kareem Reid's reverse layup with 6:43 left in the game. But Kentucky responded with a 10-3 run behind Tony Delk's 3-pointer and 18-footer to go up 79-69 four minutes later."
Feb. 14, 1996 – Kentucky 86, Georgia 73
"Typical of this topsy-turvy world, the Dogs were doomed not by the starting Cats but by their backups," reported The Courier-Journal. "Senior center Mark Pope collected 16 points and 11 rebounds, both game highs, and blocked a career-high six shots. Junior point guard Anthony Epps scored 13 points, 11 of which paced UK's fatal first-half surge, and sophomore swingman Allen Edwards added a career-high 11 points."
Feb. 17, 1996 – Kentucky 90, Tennessee 50
"Tennessee coach Kevin O'Neill has had his fill of the Kentucky Wildcats for one season," reported the AP. "'I'm just glad it wasn't 120 or 130 (points),' O'Neill said Saturday after the No. 2 Wildcats ran their winning streak to 21 straight with a 90-50 victory over the Volunteers, the worst home loss in Tennessee history."
Feb. 20, 1996 – Kentucky 84, Alabama 65
"Kentucky (23-1, 13-0) is seeking to become the first team since Alabama in 1956 to go unbeaten in league play," reported the AP. "'We thought about that,' Kentucky forward Derek Anderson said of finishing 16-0 in league play. 'But we don't want to get ourselves up too high. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves. Anything can happen.'"
Feb. 24, 1996 – Kentucky 94, Florida 63
"It's hard to make a case against Kentucky," reported the Messenger-Inquirer. "Since losing to UMass, the Wildcats have beaten every team except two – Indiana and Georgia – by at least 10 points. Their 22.9 scoring margin is tops in the nation. If it can win its last two games – at Auburn and home against Vanderbilt – Kentucky would be the first time to go unbeaten in the SEC since Alabama in 1956."
Feb. 27, 1996 – Kentucky 88, Auburn 73
"Backed by a raucous crowd and riding a two-game winning streak against Kentucky when the Wildcats hold the No. 1 ranking, Auburn looked like a formidable upset threat for awhile," reported the AP. "But Kentucky overwhelmed the Tigers by converting turnovers into 29 points. Anthony Epps added 12 points for Kentucky, while Antoined Walker and (Walter) McCarty each had 11."
March 2, 1996 – Kentucky 101, Vanderbilt 63
"'The way they played tonight and the way they played all year, I don't know if anyone can play with them,' Vanderbilt coach Jan van Breda Kolff said of Kentucky," reported the Messenger-Inquirer. "This second meeting was similar to the first, when Kentucky took a 19-2 lead and never let up while shooting a season-high 63 percent."
March 8, 1996 (SEC tournament) – Kentucky 100, Florida 76
"How good is top-ranked Kentucky? So good that the Wildcats didn't play particularly well against Florida on Friday and still won by 24 points," reported the AP. "Antoine Walker scored 21 points as Kentucky won its 26th straight game – a school record – 100-76 over Florida in the second round of the Southeastern Conference tournament."
March 9, 1996 (SEC tournament) – Kentucky 95, Arkansas 75
"Kentucky's offense just keeps running at peak efficiency," reported the AP. "For the second game in a row, UK's starting guards had mediocre outings, but the Wildcats routed another opponent. Kentucky beat Arkansas 95-75 in the Southeastern Conference Tournament semifinal round here Saturday to advance to today's final against Mississippi State. 'We work on sets that will expose a team defensively,' UK coach Rick Pitino said."
March 10, 1996 (SEC tournament) – No. 25 Mississippi State 84, Kentucky 73
"OK, so they are human," reported the AP. "No matter what observers of the Southeastern Conference may have thought this year, No. 1 Kentucky was not invincible. Mississippi State proved it in the title round of the SEC tournament on Sunday, knocking off the Wildcats 84-73. 'It's just unbelievable,' said Donte' Jones. 'We just stuck to our game plan. We didn't have anything to lose. We were relaxed and we went out and beat those guys.'"
March 14, 1996 (NCAA tournament) – No. 1 seed Kentucky 110, No. 16 seed San Jose State 72
"San Jose State thought it had a monumental upset brewing against Kentucky. Then the second half started," reported the AP. "The Spartans, one of only two teams in the NCAA tournament with a losing record, stayed with top-seeded Kentucky throughout the first half Thursday. But Kentucky's pressure wore them out in the final 20 minutes and the Wildcats won 110-72 in the first round of the Midwest Regional. 'We absolutely hit the wall,' San Jose State coach Stan Morrison said. 'You saw the element of depth and what that can do. The dam broke and there's a great price to be paid, and we paid it to an outstanding team.'"
March 16, 1996 (NCAA tournament) – No. 1 seed Kentucky 84, No. 9 seed Virginia Tech 60
"Kentucky proved once again that the shortest route to two points was the lob pass. Missing only on a toss that sailed behind Ron Mercer, the Wildcats connected on five alley-oop passes for monster dunks as part of a 12-dunk day," wrote the Messenger-Inquirer's Rich Suwanski. "Kentucky's jams first demoralized then dismissed Virginia Tech 84-60 in the second round of the Midwest Region here Saturday afternoon."
March 21, 1996 (NCAA tournament) – No. 1 seed Kentucky 101, No. 4 seed Utah 70
"Kentucky is considered the deepest and most talented team in college basketball," reported the AP. "Utah found out why. The Wildcats got contributions from up and down the lineup, and made 13 straight shots during one first-half stretch on their way to a 101-70 victory Thursday night in the semifinals of the NCAA Midwest Regional. Utah had held opponents to 63 points and 39 percent shooting, but had no way of stopping top-seeded Kentucky."
March 23, 1996 (NCAA tournament) – No. 1 seed Kentucky 83, No. 2 seed Wake Forest 63
"Tim Duncan wished he could've been little Macaulay Culkin for about two hours Saturday afternoon," wrote the Messenger-Inquirer's Mark Mathis. "He wanted to be home alone. The All-American wanted to be down on the block all by himself so he could get the basketball, spin and blast toward the basket with an up-and-under move. He would even settle for receiving a pass, dipping his shoulder and driving the baseline for a layup. But Duncan, the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Wake Forest center, was never alone against the Kentucky Wildcats. UK's Walter McCarty was always behind Duncan, leaning with his wiry frame. Either Antoine Walker or Mark Pop was always at Duncan's side, putting a body on him."
March 30, 1996 (NCAA tournament) – No. 1 seed Kentucky 81, No. 1 seed UMass 74
"Massachusetts prided itself this year on being a core of five players with limited relief from the bench and good team chemistry," wrote the Messenger-Inquirer's Rich Suwanski. "They were, for all practical purposes, the 40 Minutemen. Kentucky blew a hole in that armor with an exhausting 81-74 win over UMass in the NCAA national semifinal round game Saturday night. 'For once their guards weren't effective,' said UK guard Anthony Epps."
April 1, 1996 (NCAA tournament) – No. 1 seed Kentucky 76, No. 4 seed Syracuse 67
"On a night when Tony Delk tied a record for 3-pointers in the NCAA championship game, his most memorable play was a 4-pointers – and the acting job that went along with it," reported the AP. "Delk, whose seven 3-pointers Monday equaled the mark set by Indiana's Steve Alford in 1987, made his last shot from beyond the arc with Todd Burgan charging straight at him. Burgan arrived a split-second too late, and both players tumbled out of bounds into the Kentucky bench ... While Delk was flopping, the ball he had released was plunging straight through the basket, a fatal blow to Syracuse's chance of pulling a major upset. Kentucky went on to win 76-67, its first national championship since 1978."
Kentucky's 1995-96 individual player awards, honors
- 1996 Final Four Most Outstanding Player
- 1996 consensus First Team All-American
- 1996 SEC Player of the Year
- 1996 First Team All-SEC
Kentucky players drafted into the NBA
1996 NBA Draft
- No. 6 – Antoine Walker, Boston Celtics
- no. 16 – Tony Delk, Charlotte Hornets
- No. 19 – Walter McCarty, New York Knicks
- No. 52 – Mark Pope, Indiana Pacers
1997 NBA Draft
- No. 6 – Ron Mercer, Boston Celitcs
- No. 13 – Derek Anderson, Cleveland Cavaliers
1998 NBA Draft
- No. 29 – Nazr Mohammed, Utah Jazz
Kentucky's 1997-98 Quick Facts
Two years after Kentucky won its sixth national championship in 1996, the Wildcats won again, this time with a new head coach, Tubby Smith, but some of the same players as the Wildcats' '96 team, namely Jeff Sheppard, Nazr Mohammed, Wayne Turner and Allen Edwards.
Here's everything you need to know about the Wildcats' 1998 championship team.
Coach: Tubby Smith
Record: 35-4 (14-2 SECC)
Conference Finish: 1st
Conference Tournament Finish: Conference champion
NCAA Tournament Seed: No. 2 seed
NCAA Tournament Region: South Region
Kentucky's roster turnover before the 1997-98 season
In the 1996-97 season – Rick Pitino's last season in Lexington – the Wildcats went 35-5 (13-3 SEC), finishing second in the SEC East, winning the conference tournament and earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, which culminated in a national runner-up finish with a five-point loss to Arizona in the national championship. After the season, Kentucky lost the following players:
- Ron Mercer, 6-7, forward: 18.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg
- Derek Anderson, 6-5, forward: 17.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg
- Anthony Epps, 6-2, guard: 8.9 ppg, 4.9 apg
- Jared Prickett, 6-8, forward: 7.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg
- Oliver Simmons, 6-8, forward: 0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg
The Wildcats then added the following players to their roster in the fall of 1997:
- Saul Smith, 6-2, guard
- Michael Bradley, 6-10, center
- Myron Anthony, 6-7, forward
- Ryan Hogan, 6-3, guard
Kentucky's 1997-98 roster
Here are Kentucky's player stats from the 1997-98 season
Scroll to the right to view the complete Kentucky stats.
Here's where Kentucky was ranked in the AP Top 25 poll
The 1998 NCAA tournament bracket
Kentucky won the 1998 NCAA tournament, the program's second in three years. It was also the Wildcats' third consecutive appearance in the national final. This time, UK beat Utah for the championship.
The Wildcats and Utes were joined by North Carolina and Stanford at the Final Four in San Antonio.
Tournament highlights include Kentucky rallying from double-digit deficits in its final three tournament games and No. 13 Valparaiso making the Sweet 16. Valpo's run included Bryce Drew's buzzer-beating 3-pointer to shock No. 4 Ole Miss.
1998 NCAA tournament: Bracket
Kentucky's complete 1997-98 schedule breakdown
Nov. 20, 1997 – Kentucky 88, Morehead State 49
"How bad was it? Morehead took 58 shots and had more blocked (17) than it made (16)," wrote The Courier-Journal's Mark Woods. "The 17 blocks – including five each by centers Jamaal Magloire and Mazr Mohammed – broke the UK record of 16 set against Morehead in 1995 and Georgia in 1991."
Nov. 24, 1997 – Kentucky 70, George Washington 55
"(Tubby) Smith was happy with his Wildcats (2-0), who shot 36 percent (22-of-61) from the field in beating George Washington," reported The Advocate-Messenger. "'Overall, I was pleased except for our turnovers (19),' he said. 'We work on challenging every shot. This is the best job we've done so far.'"
Nov. 25, 1997 – No. 1 Arizona 89, Kentucky 74
"In last year's national championship game Arizona had to go overtime to win the title last season and keep Kentucky from repeating," reported the AP. "In Tuesday night's rematch top-ranked Arizona beat No. 8 Kentucky 89-74 in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational. ... 'Kentucky did a good job of coming after us and we responded,' (Lute) Olson said. 'The key was the cushion we got from the good start. Mike's (Bibby) steals and dunks got me excited. That did it.' Arizona didn't waste anytime taking control of the game. After two early ties, the last at 4-4, the Wildcats ripped off a 10-point run with Bibby placing an exclamation point on the spurt with a thunderous slam dunk."
Nov. 26, 1997 – Kentucky 77, Missouri 55
"Take what happened with less than four minutes remaining in the first half," reported The Courier-Journal. "UK already had doubled Missouri's point total (38-19). Yet there was Heshimu Evans missing a shot, grabbing the rebound, missing another shot, grabbing the rebound again and finally scoring. Jamaal Magloire did a lot of that, too. The sophomore center had 19 points and 17 rebounds in only 24 minutes of action. The Wildcats also got a big game from the bench. When they headed to the locker room with a 45-24 halftime lead, 19 of the points had come from the reserves."
Nov. 29, 1997 – Kentucky 76, No. 13 Clemson 61
"After seeing Clemson open a five-point lead in the second half, Wayne Turner of Kentucky decided it was time to take over," reported the AP. "Turner started a 15-2 run with a baseline jumper and added another field goal that brought the eighth-ranked Wildcats from behind for the last time in a 76-61 victory Saturday night in the Premier Classic."
Dec. 3, 1997 – Kentucky 89, No. 6 Purdue 75
"There was Purdue, the school known for winning games with its physical inside play, getting banged around near the basket," wrote The Courier-Journal's Mark Woods. "There was Purdue center Brad Miller being held scoreless for the first 15 minutes of the game. There was the University of Kentucky's two-man tag team of Jamaal Magloire and Nazr Mohammed taking control of the final game of the Great Eight Classic."
Dec. 6, 1997 – Kentucky 75, Indiana 72
"Nazr Mohammed won another game for Kentucky and won another admirer in Indiana coach Bob Knight," reported the AP. "The 6-foot-10 center came off the bench and scored 21 points Saturday, his second straight game with a career high, as the seventh-ranked Wildcats survived a late Indiana comeback and beat the Hoosiers 75-72. 'These guys have done an incredible job with Mohammmed. That's as good a job that I've ever seen done to a kid,' Knight said of the junior, who also had 12 rebounds and two steals."
Dec. 10, 1997 – Kentucky 81, Canisius 54
"Bigger, stronger and definitely more talented, Kentucky didn't have to worry about looking past Canisius," reported the AP. "Jeff Sheppard matched a career-high 21 points, and the No. 4 Wildcats overwhelmed the Golden Griffins with their full-court defense en route to a 81-54 victory Wednesday night. 'We try to get them into a panic no matter what kind of game we're in,' Sheppard said, 'and you've got to play the game no matter what the score is.'"
Dec. 13, 1997 – Kentucky 85, No. 24 Georgia Tech 71
"Heshimu Evans gave No. 4 Kentucky the boost it needed to overcome No. 24 Georgia Tech," reported the AP. "The 6-foot-6 reserve forward ignited a 16-5 run with six straight points that helped the Wildcats erase an 11-point deficit and go on to an 85-71 victory Saturday. Evans finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds."
Dec. 20, 1997 – Kentucky 74, Tulsa 53
"The Wildcats fell behind by eight points midway through the first half and trailed 29-28 at halftime," wrote The Advocate-Messenger's Larry Vaught. "That wasn't exactly the scenario UK coach Tubby Smith envisioned in the matchup against the school where he started his head coaching career seven years ago. Smith made sure the Wildcats knew that at halftime, too. 'He really yelled,' said UK junior Scott Padgett. 'I don't think he cussed, but he certainly did yell. He was upset.'"
Dec. 23, 1997 – Kentucky 75, American 52
"Allen Edwards wasn't happy with his recent play and was determined to do better Tuesday night," reported the AP. "Kentucky's senior forward did just that, scoring six of his 16 points during a 14-0 spurt that carried the No. 4 Wildcats to a 75-52 victory over American."
Dec. 27, 1997 – Louisville 79, Kentucky 76
"Perhaps it was his athleticism, a trait apparent when (Eric) Johnson was a force that UK coach Tubby Smith said the Wildcats 'didn't have an answer for,'" reported The Courier-Journal. "He hit all three of his three-point attempts and mdae 8 of 10 shots, including the dunk that gave the Cards their biggest leads of the game at 72-63."
Dec. 30, 1997 – Kentucky 95, Ohio 58
"Kentucky coach Tubby Smith promised his Wildcats would pick up the intensity after losing to Louisville last week. Did they ever," reported the AP. "The sixth-ranked Wildcats dominated Ohio from start to finish Tuesday night, defeating the Bobcats 95-58. Five Kentucky players scored in double figures with Nazr Mohammed and Jamaal Magloire leading the way with 15 points apiece."
Jan. 3, 1998 – Kentucky 71, Vanderbilt 62
"Sixth-ranked Kentucky controlled the boards and continues to own Vanderbilt in Rupp Arena," reported the AP. "Kentucky held a 57-18 rebound margin and improved its record to 22-0 against the Commodores on its homecourt, posting a 71-62 victory Saturday night in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams."
Jan. 6, 1998 – Kentucky 90, Georgia 79
"Tubby Smith apparently got the right idea. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," reported the AP. "Allen Edwards scored all 19 of his points in the second half and No. 6 Kentucky defeated Georgia 90-79 Tuesday night to give Wildcats coach Smith a triumphant return in his first visit since leaving the Bulldogs after last season."
Jan. 10, 1998 – Kentucky 77, Mississippi State 71
"Somebody finally had an answer for the University of Kentucky's big men. His name was Tyrone Washington," wrote The Courier-Journal's Mark Woods. "He played 35 minutes yesterday against UK's tag-team combo of Nazr Mohammed and Jamaal Magloire. He scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds to their combined 14 points and 11 rebounds. He almost made it possible for Mississippi State to come back from a 16-point deficit and pull off an upset of the nation's sixth-ranked team. Almost. The problem, as the Bulldogs found out, is that UK is far from a one-dimensional team."
Jan. 13, 1998 – Kentucky 91, No. 14 South Carolina 70
"This was South Carolina. You know, picked to finish first in the Southeastern Conference East, ahead of gasp, Kentucky," reported The Paducah Sun. "Such are the rewards for returning four starters from a team that breathed life into the South Carolina program a year ago by not once, but twice beating the Wildcats, the defending national champion Wildcats. ... That matter little when South Carolina made its return trip to Rupp Arena Tuesday night. The Wildcats still wanted blood, and got it. This bloodletting was profuse, 91-70."
Jan. 17, 1998 – Kentucky 90, No. 22 Arkansas 77 (OT)
"Just four days after the sixth-ranked Wildcats' flash of shooting brilliance had dazzled top Southeastern Conference opponent South Carolina in Rupp Arena, the two big-city kids prevented a collapse against Arkansas with blue-collar workmanship in an 80-77 overtime victory," reported the Paducah Sun. "(Nazr) Mohammed, from Chicago, has quietly kept the Kentucky machine humming through a 16-2 seaosn, actually leading the team in rebounding (7.2) and scoring (12.1) despite playing mostly off the bench."
Jan. 21, 1998 – Kentucky 70, Alabama 67
"After enduring the worst loss in school history, Alabama bounced back with a moral victory," reported the AP. "Damon Bacote scored 25 points on 7-of-9 shooting from 3-point range, and Alabama scored 27 points off Kentucky's 18 turnovers, but it wasn't enough as the seventh-ranked Wildcats pulled out a 70-67 win Wednesday night."
Jan. 24, 1998 – Kentucky 85, Tennessee 67
"The seventh-ranked Kentucky Wildcats decided to take away Tennessee's healthiest post player Saturday night, and they did just that," reported the AP. "Whenever C.J. Black got the ball inside, he found two or three Wildcats. Whenever he tried to throw it back outside, he had trouble seeing a teammate for all the hands in his face. With Black double-teamed and in foul trouble much of the game, the Wildcats used an early 20-0 run and easily manhandled Tennessee 85-67 for their 10th straight victory in the series."
Jan. 27, 1998 – Kentucky 63, Vanderbilt 61
"Nazr Mohammed's miraculous running prayer of a shot was answered Tuesday night, as Mohammed and the Wildcats made the Memorial Gym magic disappear once again with a heart-stopping 63-61 victory over Vanderbilt," reported The Paducah Sun.
Feb. 1, 1998 – Florida 86, Kentucky 78
"Shooting 3-pointers with abandon, cheating into passing lanes to make steals and pressing at every opportunity, Donovan's 11-7 Gators forced No. 7 Kentucky to play the same style and proved better at it in an 86-76 triumph," reported The Paducah Sun. "It was the first Kentucky loss in the Southeastern Conference this season, and its second at home."
Feb. 4, 1998 – Kentucky 63, LSU 61
"A swarming defense was enough for No. 8 Kentucky on Wednesday night – barely," reported the AP. "Wayne Turner's basket with 2:37 to play were the Wildcats' final points as Kentucky held off LSU for a 63-61 victory. 'I thought we had the game under control in the last minutes, but as it turned out, we were just able to hang on,' Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said."
Feb. 8, 1998 – Kentucky 79, Villanova 63
"Heshimu Evans, a 6-foot-6 junior, came off the bench, played 33 minutes (his career high at UK), made 6 of 10 shots, scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds, including five offensive rebounds," wrote The Courier-Journal's Mark Woods. "Evans' spark, combined with 18 points apiece by Jeff Sheppard and Nazr Mohammed, helped No. 8 Kentucky improved to 21-3."
Feb. 11, 1998 – Kentucky 80, Tennessee 74
"With 58 seconds to play, the Vols (15-6, 5-6) still were within six points. But Kentucky made 7 of 8 free throws to hold on," reported The Courier-Journal. "The Wildcats now have won 24 straight against teams from the state abutting Kentucky's southern border – 11 against Tennessee, 10 against Vanderbilt and one apiece against Tennessee State and UT-Martin."
Feb. 14, 1998 – No. 18 Ole Miss 73, Kentucky 64
"Tubby Smith isn't exactly ready for the asylum, but his Wildcats did drive him a little batty with Saturday's loss to the Rebels," reported The Paducah Sun. "For one, his No. 7 Wildcats, now 22-4 overall, are 8-3 in what used to be the safe haven known as Rupp Arena. These home losses have kept fans buzzing and on his back this season. This loss was historically painful – holding a 42-game winning streak in Lexington against an opponent tends to breed certain expectations."
Feb. 18, 1998 – Kentucky 79, Florida 54
"Florida was reeling physically and emotionally, and revenge-minded Kentucky only made it worse," reported the AP. "Nazr Mohammed scored 19 points and Jeff Sheppard added 18 on eight-for-10 shooting Wednesday night as the eighth-ranked Wildcats avenged an earlier loss to the Gators with a 79-54 rout."
Feb. 22, 1998 – Kentucky 85, Georgia 74
"The Wildcats overcame a seven-point deficit and rolled to an 85-74 victory over Georgia," reported The Courier-Journal. "OK, the Bulldogs, who shot only 18.8 percent in the second half didn't shed any tears afterward. But unlike in three previous home games – Louisville, Florida and Mississippi – the opponent wasn't letting loose with cheers, either."
Feb. 25, 1998 – Kentucky 83, Auburn 58
"The No. 7 Wildcats rolled to an 83-58 victory over Auburn to wrap up the SEC Eastern Division title – which comes with a No. 1 seed for next week's conference tournament – and clinch the overall regular-season title," wrote The Courier-Journal's Mark Woods. "UK improved to 25-4 , 13-2. South Carolina, which already has lost to UK this season, is 11-4 in the SEC."
Feb. 28, 1998 – Kentucky 69, No. 14 South Carolina 57
"Kentucky's Scott Padgett remembered. So did teammate Jeff Sheppard. It was hard for anyone to forget South Carolina's improbable victory a year ago at Rupp Arena, ending Kentucky's run fo 33 straight Senior Day wins," reported the AP. "'In the back of our minds, we had some revenge factors because they swept us,' said Padgett, part of this year's group which led No. 7 Kentucky to a 69-57 victory over No. 14 South Carolina on Saturday."
March 6, 1998 (SEC tournament) – Kentucky 82, Alabama 71
"The first three minutes of the University of Kentucky men's basketball team's postseason seemed vaguely familiar. They seemed – remember this sensation? – easy," wrote The Courier-Journal's Mark Woods. "The Wildcats made their first three shots. They watched the other team miss its first six. The lead reached eight points before the first TV timeout. The opposing coach was ripping off his sport coat after drawing a technical foul for arguing a call. At that moment, there was a temptation to think that maybe this Kentucky team wasn't all that different from its predecessor – the one that ripped through the last Southeastern Conference Tournament, winning by an average of 29 points."
March 7, 1998 (SEC tournament) – Kentucky 99, No. 16 Arkansas 74
"Seventh-ranked Kentucky destroyed No. 16 Arkansas' vaunted pressure defense Saturday, shooting 63 percent in the first half and coasting to a 99-74 victory in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament," reported the AP. "Kentucky (28-4) built a 58-33 halftime lead and Arkansas (23-8) never got closer than 20 the rest of the way. Twelve players scored for the Wildcats and five were in double figures, led by Jeff Sheppard with 17 points."
March 8, 1998 (SEC tournament) – Kentucky 86, No. 15 South Carolina 56
"Kentucky's hottest player, Jeff Sheppard, sprained an ankle in the 99-74 semifinal victory over No. 16 Arkansas and wasn't able to play in the title game," reported the Paducah Sun. "(Allen) Edwards took his spot in the backcourt and played superbly. 'This feels real good,' Edwards said. 'I felt like Shep was filling in for me while I was gone, so I told him I did this for him and my mom.' (Wayne) Turner scored 18 points as Kentucky (29-4) added another SEC championship to its already bountiful collection."
March 13, 1998 (NCAA tournament) – No. 2 seed Kentucky 82, No. 15 seed South Carolina State 67
"Kentucky showed it could win without a barrage of 3-pointers," reported the AP. "Pounding the ball inside against an over-matched team, second-seeded Kentucky wore down South Carolina State and cruised to an 82-67 victory in the first round of the NCAA South Regional. The Wildcats (30-4) didn't bother to set up very much outside the 3-point arc, hitting only 4-of-14 from that range. They preferred to work closer to the basket, a strategy that paid off abundantly when Kentucky's big men outscored their counterparts from South Carolina State 57-8."
March 15, 1998 (NCAA tournament) – No. 2 seed Kentucky 88, No. 10 seed Saint Louis 61
"By game's end, the score read Kentucky 88, Saint Louis 61. But this one was over in half that time," reported The Paducah Sun. "A season of highlights compressed into a half featured surreal stuff like: A 19-0 run; a 30-point lead (46-16); 59 percent shooting from the field; a defense that limited the Billikens to 19.4 percent shooting and star freshman Larry Hughes to two points."
March 20, 1998 (NCAA tournament) – No. 2 seed Kentucky 94, No. 6 seed UCLA 68
"Not even fabled UCLA was a match for Kentucky, a No. 2 seed playing like it might be the No. 1 team in the country," reported the AP. "Jeff Sheppard's shooting and the inside muscle of Scott Padgett and Nazr Mohammed overpowered the depleted Bruins from the start, and the Wildcats romped 94-68 Friday night in a South regional mismatch of college basketball two most storied teams."
March 22, 1998 (NCAA tournament) – No. 2 seed Kentucky 86, No. 1 seed Duke 84
"Cameron Mills had been of-for-the NCAA Tournament. He had only put the ball up six times for the University of Kentucky in three NCAA games," wrote the Messenger-Inquirer's Mark Mathis. "He had put it up none at all in the South Region championship. When he finally did make his first shot of March Madness, it was one of the biggest in the tournament, and it was certainly go down in the lore of Kentucky basketball. The senior and former walk-on from Lexington nailed a 3 from the top of the key with 2:12 left Sunday against Duke. It gave UK its first lead of the game, 80-79, which the No. 2 seed Cats would win 86-84."
March 28, 1998 (NCAA tournament) – No. 2 seed Kentucky 86, No. 3 seed Stanford 85 (OT)
"Kentucky got to the Final Four by relying on its balanced scoring and team play. However, Kentucky got to Monday's NCAA Tournament championship game for the third straight year because it had two players – Jeff Sheppard and Nazr Mohammed – who took over the offense when the Wildcats needed it most," reported The Advocate-Messenger. "Sheppard and Mohammed combined for 34 of Kentucky's 52 points in the second half of an 86-85 overtime thriller here. Both players had 17 points, and UK needed every one of them to put itself in position to win a second national title in three years if it can beat surprising Utah on Monday."
March 30, 1998 (NCAA tournament) – No. 2 seed Kentucky 78, No. 3 seed Utah 69
"Call them the Comeback 'Cats. Kentucky capped a truly maddening March with an unprecedented second-half rally, beating Utah 78-69 Monday night to win its second NCAA championship in three years. The Wildcats did it this time with a new coach and without stars in their lineup," reported the AP. "In its third straight rally of the tournament, Kentucky overcame the largest halftime deficit – 10 points – in a championship game to win its seventh national title. 'We're comeback kids,' Kentucky coach Tubby Smith said. 'These kids have done it all.'"
Kentucky's 1997-98 individual player awards, honors
- 1998 Final Four Most Outstanding Player
Kentucky players drafted into the NBA
1998 NBA Draft
- No. 29 – Nazr Mohammed, Utah Jazz
1999 NBA Draft
- No. 28 – Scott Padgett, Utah Jazz
2000 NBA Draft
- No. 19 – Jamaal Magloire, Charlotte Hornets
Kentucky's 2011-12 Quick Facts
Kentucky added its eighth and latest national championship in 2012, under third-year head coach John Calipari and fueled by a roster in which the top seven scorers would later play in the NBA.
Here's everything you need to know about the Wildcats' 2012 championship team.
Coach: John Calipari
Record: 38-2 (16-0 SEC)
Conference Finish: 1st
Conference Tournament Finish: Lost in conference championship game
NCAA Tournament Seed: No. 1 seed
NCAA Tournament Region: South Region
Kentucky's roster turnover before the 2011-12 season
In the 2010-11 season, Kentucky went 29-9 (10-6 SEC), finishing second in the SEC East and earning a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament, where the Wildcats made the Final Four and lost to eventual national champion UConn by one point.
After the 2011 season, Kentucky lost the following players from its roster:
- Brandon Knight, 6-3, guard: 17.3 ppg, 4.2 apg, 4.0 rpg
- DeAndre Liggins, 6-6, guard: 8.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.5 apg
- Josh Harrellson, 6-10, forward: 7.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg
- Jon Hood, 6-7, guard: 0.8 ppg, 0.7 rpg
- Stacey Poole, 6-4, guard: 0.3 ppg, 0.5 rpg
Kentucky then added the following players to its roster in the fall of 2011:
- Anthony Davis, 6-10, forward
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 6-7, forward
- Marquis Teague, 6-2, guard
- Kyle Wiltjer, 6-10, forward
- Sam Malone, 5-11, guard
- Brian Long, 5-9, guard
Kentucky's 2011-12 roster
Here are Kentucky's player stats from the 2011-12 season
Scroll to the right to view the complete Kentucky stats.
Kentucky's advanced stats, style of play
Kentucky finished the 2011-12 season ranked No. 1 on kenpom.com with an adjusted efficiency margin of +32.59, meaning the Wildcats outscored their opponents by an average of 32.59 points for every 100 possessions. Kentucky's offensive efficiency ranked No. 2 nationally and its defense ranked No. 7.
The Wildcats' defense was elite, leading the country in effective field goal percentage allowed (42.0%), defensive 2-point percentage (39.6%) and block percentage (20.2%). Offensively, they ranked in the top 25 nationally in 2-point percentage (52.7%), offensive rebounding percentage (37.3%) and turnover percentage (16.9%).
Below is Kentucky's advanced stats profile from kenpom.com.
Here's where Kentucky was ranked in the AP Top 25 poll
The 2012 NCAA tournament bracket
Kentucky captured the program's eighth national championship at the 2012 NCAA tournament, beating Kansas 67-59 in the title game.
The Wildcats made their second straight Final Four appearance after coming up short in 2011. This time, the postseason's top overall seed won its six games by an average of 11.8 points as Anthony Davis was named Most Outstanding Player.
No. 2 seed Kansas opposed Kentucky for the national title. It was the Jayhawks' first appearance in the Final Four since winning the 2008 championship.
Upsets were also a factor in the 2012 NCAA tournament. For the first time ever, two 15-seeds won in the same tournament as Norfolk State upset Missouri and Lehigh eliminated Duke. Additionally, No. 13 seed Ohio reached the Sweet 16 and took top-seeded North Carolina to overtime.
2012 NCAA tournament: Bracket
Kentucky's complete 2011-12 schedule breakdown
Nov. 11, 2011 – Kentucky 108, Marist 58
"Freshman Anthony Davis had 23 points and 10 rebounds to join Terrence Jones and Sam Bowie as the only freshmen in Kentucky history with 20-10 games in their debuts, leading the second-ranked Wildcats to a 108-58 victory over Marist on Friday night," reported the AP. "Davis attacked the rim in the opener, finishing 10 of 13 with eight dunks, as Kentucky shrugged off a slow start with a dominant second half that turned a single-digit lead into a blowout in their first game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament."
Nov. 15, 2011 – Kentucky 75, No. 12 Kansas 65
"Doron Lamb scored 17 points, Terrence Jones had 15 and No. 2 Kentucky raced to a decisive spurt at the start of the second half, passing an early-season test with a 75-65 victory over No. 12 Kansas on Tuesday night in a matchup between the two winningest programs in college basketball," reported the AP. "Anthony Davis added 14 points and seven blocks for the balanced Wildcats (2-0), an impressive winner at Madison Square Garden in the State Farm Champions Classic."
Nov. 19, 2011 – Kentucky 85, Penn State 47
"Kentucky's star freshman Anthony Davis had just three points on Saturday. Coach John Calipari isn't concerned," reported the AP. "Sophomore Doron Lamb had 26 points and the Wildcats routed Penn State 85-47 in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament in Connecticut. Kyle Wiltjer added 19 points and Terrence Jones had 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Kentucky (3-0), which didn't put five players in double figures for the first time this season."
Nov. 20, 2011 – Kentucky 62, Old Dominion 52
"Kentucky starts three freshmen and two sophomore, but relied on its lone senior Sunday to win the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament," reported the AP. "Darius Miller came off the bench to score 13 points and hand out five assists as the No. 2 Wildcats outlasted Old Dominion 62-52 Sunday. 'We got out of here alive somehow, and the reason we got out of alive is because Darius played,' Kentucky coach John Calipari said."
Nov. 23, 2011 – Kentucky 88, Radford 40
"Kentucky coach John Calipari decided to give Marquis Teague one turnover per half before he'd start hounding his newest point guard. The freshman responded with his most efficient game so far for the Wildcats," reported the AP. "Teague finished with 13 points, five assists and just two turnovers, and No. 2 Kentucky beat Radford 88-40 on Wednesday night in the Wildcats' first home game in nearly two weeks. 'Everybody's just been telling me to come out, play aggressive, just play my game,' said Teague."
Nov. 26, 2011 – Kentucky 87, Portland 63
"Kentucky (6-0) has won every game by double digits, but Portland gave the Wildcats plenty to work on in the coming days after the Pilots (2-4) challenged them with sharp outside shooting and won the rebounding battle, 39-38," reported the AP. "Kentucky used an 18-3 first-half run to take a double-digit lead. After Portland pulled within six in the second half, the Wildcats put on a full-court press as part of an 18-4 run that put the game out of reach."
Dec. 1, 2011 – Kentucky 81, St. John's 59
"Only once in Kentucky's illustrious basketball history have the Wildcats had a player record a triple double. That came in 1988 when Chris Mills had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over Austin Peay," reported the AP. "Freshman Anthony Davis came close to one in only his seventh collegiate game Thursday before finishing with 15 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocked shots in Thursday's 81-69 win over St. Johns."
Dec. 3, 2011 – Kentucky 73, No. 5 North Carolina 72
"Pushed and pressured all day, Anthony Davis finally went somewhere else no one could on the floor. Up. The freshman soared to block John Henson's shot in the final seconds and No. 1 Kentucky held on to beat No. 5 North Carolina 73-72 on Saturday to extend the Wildcats' home winning streak to 39 games. 'I just jumped as high as I could with my arm up,' said Davis, who had seven points and nine rebounds."
Dec. 10, 2011 – Indiana 73, Kentucky 72
"When the game started, it was a typical rivalry game. But it was the closing stretch the became so captivating," reported the Messenger-Inquirer. "Indiana led 63-53 with 9:03 to play, their second 10-point lead of the game and Kentucky's largest deficit all season. But the Wildcats rallied to retake the led at 69-68 with 2 minutes to play. In the final stretch, the lead changed three more times – when (Christian) Watford put in a layup with 1:07 to go and when Teague followed that with a driving layup to give Kentucky a 71-70 lead with 48.8 seconds to go. Then after missing two of their final three free throws, Watford hit the shot that revived Indiana basketball and sent four players atop the scorer's table to lead the cheers."
Dec. 17, 2011 – Kentucky 87, Chattanooga 62
"Tennessee-Chattanooga coach John Shulman knew the only way his team could hang with Kentucky was if the Mocs forced the Wildcats to shoot from long range," reported the AP. "Problem was Kentucky had a season-best performance from the 3-point line. Tennessee-Chattanooga (3-8) sent constant double teams to try and minimize the impact of Kentucky's post players, but the third-ranked Wildcats hit 12 3-pointers in a 87-62 victory on Saturday night."
Dec. 20, 2011 – Kentucky 82, Samford 50
"(Doron) Lamb scored 26 points on 8-of-12 shooting and Darius Miller added 17 points to lead No. 3 Kentucky in an 8-250 rout over Samford on Tuesday night to extend the Wildcats' home winning streak to 41 games," reported the AP. "Lamb has been coming into the gym early and working on conditioning before going out to shoot followed by practice. The sophomore guard's only letdown came when his right wrist bent back late, forcing him from the game. But he said he was fine afterward."
Dec. 22, 2011 – Kentucky 87, Loyola (MD) 63
"Kyle Wiltjer is finally figuring out the tougher play at this level because he's learning all about it in practice," reported the AP. "Wiltjer scored a personal-best 24 points and a trio of freshmen sparked No. 3 Kentucky's 17-2 second-half run to beat Loyola (Md.) 87-63 on Thursday for the Wildcats' 42nd straight win at home. 'It's a lot more physical in college. It's a lot quicker, a lot quicker guys,' Wiltjer said."
Dec. 28, 2011 – Kentucky 86, Lamar 64
"The Wildcats (12-1) started strong and never struggled to beat Lamar, and they also benefited from sophomore Terrence Jones' return after missing two games with a dislocated pinky on his left – shooting – hand," reported the AP. "Calipari could have focused on that or freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's 18 points or freshman Anthony Davis' sixth double-double in 12 games."
Dec. 31, 2011 – Kentucky 69, No. 4 Louisville 62
"Freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist hesitantly accepted a leadership role at first as the youngest member on No. 3 Kentucky's prospect-laden roster. Comfortable with his status, there's no telling just how far he can carry the Wildcats," reported the AP. "'I'm very shy, but I'm getting better,' the 18-year-old forward said. 'I just relax on the basketball court.' Kidd-Gilchrist had season highs with 24 points and 19 rebounds to lead Kentucky in a rough-and-tumble 69-62 victory over No. 4 Louisville on Saturday to extend the nation's longest home winning streak."
Jan. 3, 2012 – Kentucky 73, Little Rock 51
"Freshman Anthony Davis had 22 points and 16 rebounds, and the No. 2 Wildcats overcame a slow start with a big run that put away the Trojans 73-51 on Tuesday night," reported the AP. "But the final nonconference game was an ugly one all around for the 14-1 Wildcats, who played for the first time since beating then-No. 4 Louisville on Dec. 31 and moving up one spot behind top-ranked Syracuse."
Jan. 7, 2012 – Kentucky 79, South Carolina 64
"Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis declared that Terrence Jones was back. That could be a scary thought for the rest of the Southeastern Conference," reported the AP. "Jones hit his first eight shots and finished with 20 points in the best game since dislocating a finger, and the second-ranked Wildcats beat South Carolina 79-64 on Saturday in the SEC opener for both teams."
Jan. 11, 2012 – Kentucky 68, Auburn 53
"The Wildcats (16-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) had a 23-6 closing run for their second straight 15-point league win," reported the AP. "They didn't take a double-digit lead over the Tigers (10-6, 0-2) until Anthony Davis scored on an alley-oop pass from Doron Lamb with 1:31 left. 'We went on a run at the end of the game, but you all know it was a double-bucket game and they could have beat us,' (John) Calipari said."
Jan. 14, 2012 – Kentucky 65, Tennessee 62
"The win marked Kentucky's second Southeastern Conference road victory of the season, matching its total for all last season," reported the AP. "The Wildcats won in Knoxville in 2011 and have won four straight against the Vols. (Anthony) Davis finished with 18 points and had four blocks to pull within one of tying the school season record of 83. (Michael) Kidd-Gilchrist added 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Terrence Jones scored 10 points before fouling out with 3:55 to play."
Jan. 17, 2012 – Kentucky 86, Arkansas 63
"(Anthony) Davis scored a career-high 27 points and blocked seven shots to set a school season record in the second-ranked Wildcats' 86-63 victory over the Razorbacks on Tuesday night," reported the AP. "'I know they're definitely thinking about it when they come in the hole and they've got to shoot the ball,' said Davis, who had 14 rebounds. 'It's definitely in their mind – where's Anthony Davis?'"
Jan. 21, 2012 – Kentucky 77, Alabama 71
"Alabama's plan to beat Kentucky involved swarming freshman Anthony Davis," reported the AP. "The only place he and the rest of the Wildcats found some elbow room was at the free-throw line. Terrence Jones scored 15 points and No. 2 Kentucky hit all eight of its free throws in the final minute to hold on to beat Alabama 77-71 on Saturday for the Wildcats' 47th straight home victory."
Jan. 24, 2012 – Kentucky 57, Georgia 44
"Surrounded by freshmen, the old man carried Kentucky in its first game back at No. 1," reported the AP. "Senior Darius Miller came off the bench to score 19 points and the top-ranked Wildcats cruised to a 12th straight victory, beating Georgia 57-44 on Tuesday night despite their lowest-scoring game of the season."
Jan. 28, 2012 – Kentucky 74, LSU 50
"Something clicked inside Terrence Jones when he saw teammate Anthony Davis lying on his back in pain after a hard collision under the LSU basket," reported the AP. "'When stuff like that happens to one of your brothers, you don't like that,' Jones said. 'The only way we could redeem that is by continuing to play hard, just show it through the score.' Jones did precisely that, highlighting a season-high 27-point performance with a 13-0 run on his own, and No. 1 Kentucky pulled away in the second half for a 74-50 win over struggling LSU on Saturday."
Jan. 31, 2012 – Kentucky 69, Tennessee 44
"UK, completing its first regular-season football-basketball sweep of Tennessee since 1964 (and only the 10th all-time), took another step forward in the estimation of third-year head coach John Calipari," reported the Messenger-Inquirer. "'I'm happy with the team,' said Calipari, whose Cats held the Big Orange to a season low 28.1 percent from the field."
Feb. 4, 2012 – Kentucky 86, South Carolina 52
"South Carolina made one last drive to get back in it when Leonard hit a pair of 3s that cut the lead to 25-18," reported the Messenger-Inquirer. "The Wildcats then took off on a 17-2 run the next six minutes – (Terrence) Jones scored nine of the points and (Anthony) Davis five – to take control. Davis didn't stop with a big lead, either. He grabbed a rebound from about 18 feet out as the shot-clock buzzer sounded and glided in for his fifth jam of the period to increase Kentucky's margin to 52-25 at the break."
Feb. 7, 2012 – Kentucky 78, No. 8 Florida 58
"Doron Lamb struggled to explain why top-ranked Kentucky could roll so easily over No. 8 Florida," reported the AP. "It's much easier for the Wildcats to talk about their goal. 'I told somebody we were going to blow them out today. I just felt it coming,' said Lamb, who finished with 18 points in a 78-58 victory Thursday night. 'I knew it was coming for some reason. I don't know why.'"
Feb. 11, 2012 – Kentucky 69, Vanderbilt 63
"Kentucky finally got another test in the Southeastern Conference and the Wildcats' stingy, sticky defense helped them pass yet again and take a big step toward the regular-season conference title," reported the AP. "Doron Lamb hit a 3-pointer with 3:18 left to put No. 1 Kentucky ahead to stay, and the Wildcats beat Vanderbilt 69-63 Saturday night for their 17th straight win by not allowing a point inside the final 4 minutes."
Feb. 18, 2012 – Kentucky 77, Ole Miss 62
"This had all the making to be a game where Kentucky might struggle to extend its unbeaten Southeastern Conference record and home win streak," wrote The Advocate-Messenger's Larry Vaught. "No, Mississippi is not that good, but the Wildcats roared out to a 16-5 lead in less than five minutes and then hit neutral – or maybe reverse after Anthony Davis got his second foul with 10 minutes, 7 seconds left in the first half and UK leading 22-14. Ole Miss got physical, tied game 34-34 and really seemed to have UK reeling when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist got his second foul with about six minutes to go in the half."
Feb. 21, 2012 – Kentucky 73, Mississippi State 64
"Compared to the rest of Kentucky's roster, Darius Miller is a dinosaur," reported the AP. "But the 6-foot-8 senior guard does bring the Wildcats some experience and toughness, and he scored all of his 12 points in the final eight minutes to help No. 1 Kentucky climb out of a halftime hole to beat Mississippi State 73-64 on Tuesday night. 'I just tried to focus in,' Miller said of the Wildcats' methodical second-half comeback. 'I knew we were all going to have to make plays.'"
Feb. 25, 2012 – Kentucky 83, Vanderbilt 74
"Freshman Anthony Davis again found himself with the ball and only a few seconds left to react. The 6-foot-10 forward squared up, burying a long jumper that buoyed his national player of the year push in one superb sequence," reported the AP. "Davis scored a career-high 28 points on 10-of-11 shooting, and No. 1 Kentucky beat Vanderbilt 83-74 on Saturday to win the Southeastern Conference regular season title for the 45th time."
March 1, 2012 – Kentucky 79, Georgia 49
"Darius Miller hit five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points, and No. 1 Kentucky beat Georgia 79-49 on Thursday night to extend the nation's longest home winning streak to 52 games and push its overall run to 21 in a row," reported the AP.
March 4, 2012 – Kentucky 74, No. 16 Florida 59
"Kentucky coach John Calipari never mentioned perfection to his team before Sunday's game at Florida," reported the AP. "He talked about pride. The Wildcats ended up with both. Freshman Anthony Davis had 22 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks, Terrence Jones added 19 points and the top-ranked Wildcats capped a perfect season in Southeastern Conference play with a 74-59 victory over No. 16 Florida."
March 9, 2012 (SEC tournament) – Kentucky 60, LSU 51
"No. 1 Kentucky wasn't just supposed to beat LSU, it was supposed to win comfortably," reported the AP. "Instead, the Wildcats labored through an 18-turnover performance in which the feisty Tigers led early in the second half and never trailed by more than nine before Kentucky closed out a 60-51 victory Friday in the second-round of the Southeastern Conference tournament."
March 10, 2012 (SEC tournament) – Kentucky 74, No. 22 Florida 71
"Terrence Jones added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats (32-1), who've won 24 straight and play next in today's tournament final against the winner of Mississippi and Vanderbilt in Saturday's other semifinal," reported The Advocate-Messenger. "Doron Lamb scored 16 points and Marquis Teague added 15, with each hitting a pair of key free throws in the last 15 seconds to secure the win against a Florida team which shot 48 percent, including 11 of 22 from 3-point range."
March 11, 2012 (SEC tournament) – Vanderbilt 71, Kentucky 64
"John Jenkins lay on the court with his hands over his face as Vanderbilt teammates celebrated all around, exuberant after beating No. 1 Kentucky 71-64 for the program's first Southeastern Conference tournament title in more than 60 years," reported the AP. "The Wildcats might not really care about the SEC tournament. The Commodores did. Jeffery Taylor scored 18 points, Jenkins added 17 and Vanderbilt rallied with a 16-2 run over the final 5 minutes to end the Wildcats' 24-game winning streak that lasted more than three months."
March 15, 2012 (NCAA tournament) – No. 1 seed Kentucky 81, No. 16 seed Western Kentucky 66
"Freshman T.J. Price scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half to help Western Kentucky (16-19) get off to a hot start that briefly silenced the decidedly UK crowd," reported the Messenger-Inquirer. "The Hilltoppers carried an improbably seven-game winning streak into the matchup with the Wildcats. But the Wildcats, the No. 1 overall seed playing out of the South Regional, began overwhelming Western Kentucky late in the first half, taking advantage of a team that acknowledged before the game it was probably running on fumes."
March 17, 2012 (NCAA tournament) – No. 1 seed Kentucky 87, seed Iowa State 71
"Darius Miller knows its crunch time," reported The Advocate-Messenger. "The Kentucky senior guard pounded his chest Saturday after connecting on a 3-pointer that proved to be a momentum-changer in the second half of an 87-71 victory over Iowa State in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at the KFC Yum! Center. 'We all came out with a lot of intensity,' Miller said. '(We) were really focused on what we needed to do. We all know this is the last time this team is going to be together. We're not quite ready for that yet.'"
March 23, 2012 (NCAA tournament) – No. 1 seed Kentucky 102, seed Indiana 90
"On offense, Kentucky made the kind of plays the Wildcats have made all season while separating themselves from the rest of college basketball," reported The Courier-Journal. "The Wildcats came out punching, staggering Indiana. Kentucky scored on seven of its first nine possessions. About 10 minutes into the half, the Wildcats surged to a 31-22 lead. And Indiana's biggest problem was not the scoreboard. Three of Tom Crean's starters – Cody Zeller, Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo – had two fouls."
March 25, 2012 (NCAA tournament) – No. 1 seed Kentucky 82, seed Baylor 70
"This group sure has the look of a champion, shaking off an early blow by the Bears (30-8) – a very good team with a daring fashion sense th