Basketball Wiki

Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky Wildcats
School Name: University of Kentucky
Location: Lexington, Kentucky
Arena: Rupp Arena
Capacity: 20,545
Conference: SEC
Head coach: John Calipari

The Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team, representing the University of Kentucky, is the winningest in the history of college basketball, both in all-time wins and all-time winning percentage. Kentucky's all-time record currently stands at 2051-646 (.760). Kentucky also leads all schools in total NCAA tournament appearances with 51, is second to North Carolina in NCAA tournament wins with 104, and ranks second to UCLA in NCAA championships with 7. In addition to these titles, Kentucky also has won the National Invitation Tournament in both 1946 and 1976. (Kentucky is the only school to win multiple NCAA and NIT titles.) The Wildcats have played in a record 51 NCAA tournaments, in a record 150 NCAA tournament games, have an NCAA record 42 Sweet-16 appearances, and an NCAA record 33 Elite-8 appearances. Further, Kentucky has played in 13 Final Fours (tied for 4th place all time with Kansas), and has 10 NCAA championship game appearances (tied for second place all time with Duke), winning 7 NCAA championships (second only to UCLA all time). Kentucky is the only school with four different NCAA championship coaches (Rupp, Hall, Pitino, Smith).

The Wildcats play their home games in Rupp Arena, a facility named for their former coach, Adolph Rupp. Before a major renovation completed in the 2019 offseason, the facility had an official capacity of 23,500, but because of the all-bleacher configuration of its upper seating bowl, it frequently saw crowds of over 24,000. The Wildcats consistently ranked first in the nation in home game attendance during that time. The 2019 renovation replaced about half of the upper-bowl bleachers with chairback seats, reducing the listed capacity to 20,545.

The team's huge fan base is often referred to as the "Big Blue Nation" or the "Big Blue Mist", the latter because the fans typically engulf tournament and neutral-site venues. Likewise, the team itself is often referred to as the "Big Blue". In the 1980s the team was credited with popularizing Midnight Madness.

On April 1, 2009, John Calipari was formally announced as Kentucky's 18th men's head basketball coach, replacing the fired Billy Gillispie.


The Kentucky Wildcats presently play their home games in 20,545-seat Rupp Arena. The first home court for the Wildcats was simply called "the Gymnasium", and was located in the north wing of Barker Hall on the university campus. Constructed in 1902, it also housed the university's physical education classes until 1909. The facility had a capacity of 650 people, and with no bleachers or seats, fans had to stand to watch the games that were played there.[1]

By the 1920s, it had become clear that the Gymnasium (by then renamed the "Ladies' Gym") was inadequate to house the university's basketball team. In 1924, Alumni Gym was completed. The new facility included seating for 2,800 people and cost $92,000 to construct.[1]


Rupp Arena

Coming off back-to-back national championships, the team moved to Memorial Coliseum in 1950. Nicknamed "The House That Rupp Built", the multipurpose facility cost $4 million and seated 12,000 people. It also housed a swimming pool, physical education equipment, and offices for the athletics staff. The team occupied Memorial Coliseum for twenty-six seasons, and sold out every home game during that period.[2]

The Wildcats' present home court, Rupp Arena, was opened in 1976. Located off-campus, in downtown Lexington, the facility's official capacity is 20,545.[2] Before its 2019 renovation, it had a capacity of 23,500, allowing the Wildcats to frequently lead the country in home attendance from 1976 to 2019.

In 2007, the university unveiled the Joe Craft Center, a $30 million state-of-the-art basketball practice facility for both the men's and women's teams. It is widely considered to be the finest facility of its type in the country.

Coaching eras[]


Pre-Rupp (1903–1930)[]

Records indicate that the first head coach of the Wildcats was W.W.H. Mustaine, who in 1903 called together some students, took up a collection totaling $3 for a ball, and told the students to start playing.[3] The first recorded intercollegiate game at the college was a 15–6 defeat to nearby Georgetown College. The team went 1–2 for their first "season," also losing to Kentucky University (later Transylvania University) but defeating the Lexington YMCA.[4]

Through 1908, the team did not manage a winning season, and had an all-time record of 15–29. In the fall of 1909, the faculty athletic senate voted to abolish the men’s basketball program at Kentucky, due to a poor record and an overcrowded gym. As a reaction to this, the University of Kentucky students presented the board of trustees with a solution to the overcrowding. The plan was for a wooden floor and new lighting to be installed in the Armory. To address the poor record of the past teams, the university's head football coach, E.R. Sweetland was named head coach. This made him the first paid coach in Kentucky’s basketball history.[5] That year, the team went 5–4, and only three years later, boasted their first undefeated season with nine victories and no losses.[6]

George Buchheit and the "Wonder Team"[]

File:1921 UK bball team.jpg

The 1921 "Wonder Team"

In 1919, George Buchheit became the new head coach of the Wildcats. An alumnus of the University of Illinois, he brought with him a new system of basketball. The "Buchheit system" or "Illinois system," focused on defense and featured one player standing under each basket, while three roamed the court. Buckheit varied the system he learned in Illinois in one important way. While the Illini employed a zone defense, Buchheit's system used an aggressive man-to-man scheme. On offense, he used a complicated system of passing called the "zig-zag" or "figure eight" offense.[7]

Although the team had a losing season in Buchheit's first year, they won the first-ever Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament the next year, defeating the heavily favored Georgia Bulldogs. Both of these teams were composed entirely of native Kentuckians, anchored by All-American Basil Hayden. The tournament victory was considered Kentucky's first major success, and the 1921 team became known as the "Wonder Team."[8]

In 1922, the team was unable to build on the success of the "Wonder Team." Although every player was eligible in 1922, two key players, Hayden and Sam Ridgeway, were injured before the start of the season. Hayden returned from his knee injury during the season, but was never able to play at the level he had the previous year. Ridgeway fought a year-long battle with diphtheria, and although he recovered, never played for the Wildcats again. The remaining three members of the "Wonder Team" went 9–5 for the season, and bowed out of the SIAA tournament in the second round.[9]

The team falters[]

Buchheit remained as coach through the 1924 season before moving on to coach Trinity College (later Duke University.) A different coach would guide the team for each of the next four years. C.O. Applegran immediately followed Buchheit, and his 1925 team posted a respectable 13–8 record. The next year, Ray Eklund led the team to a 15–3 record, and produced UK's second All-American, Burgess Carey.[10]

Seeing the cupboard largely bare for the upcoming year, Eklund resigned shortly before the start of the 1927 season. The team scrambled to find a new coach, and former player Basil Hayden left his coaching job at Kentucky Wesleyan College to answer the call. An inexperienced coach and a roster largely depleted of talent left the Wildcats with a 3–13 record that year. The disappointment convinced Hayden that he wasn't the "coaching type," and he resigned after the season. Fortunately for the Wildcats, 1927 would be their last losing season for six decades.[11]

The Mauermen[]

The Wildcats' new coach for the 1928 season was John Mauer. Although he had a talented group of players moving up from the junior varsity team, Mauer quickly discovered that his players didn't know the fundamentals of the game. He began a regimen of three-hour practices five days a week during the preseason. The practice began with half an hour of shooting drills and usually ended with a full-court scrimmage. Between the two, Mauer worked on skill drills and scenarios. Mauer's teams were nicknamed the "Mauermen."[12]

Teamwork was the hallmark of Mauer's system. Every player worked on every aspect of the game; there were no specialists. Like Buchheit, Mauer employed a strong man-to-man defense. He utilized a slow-break offense that relied on a complicated system of short passes to get a good shot. Two elements of Mauer's system were new to basketball in the south – the offensive screen and the bounce pass. The latter was so new to most of UK's opponents that it was referred to as the "submarine attack."[13]

Over his three-year tenure, Mauer led the Wildcats to an overall record of 40–14. One major prize eluded him, however. Despite having teams that were almost universally acknowledged as the "class of the South," Mauer never led a team to the Southern Conference title. Despite his innate ability for coaching, Mauer lacked the ability to heighten his team's emotions for a big game, a fault that was cited as the reason for his lack of tournament success. Mauer left the Wildcats to coach the Miami University Redskins following the 1930 season.[14]

Adolph Rupp (1930–1972)[]

In 1930, the university hired Adolph Rupp, who had played as a reserve for the University of Kansas 1922 and 1923 Helms National Championship teams,[15] under coach Forest C. "Phog" Allen. At the time of his hiring, Rupp was a high school coach in Freeport, Illinois.[3] He would go on to become the all-time winningest coach in college basketball.

Rupp coached the University of Kentucky men's basketball team from 1930 to 1972. At Kentucky, he earned the titles "Baron of the Bluegrass" and "The Man in the Brown Suit" (Rupp always wore a brown suit to games). Rupp was a master of motivation and strategy, often using local talent to build his teams. In fact, throughout his career, more than 80% of Rupp's players came from the state of Kentucky. He promoted a sticky man-to-man defense, a fluid set offense, perfect individual fundamentals, and a relentless fast break that battered opponents into defeat. Rupp demanded 100% effort from his players at all times, pushing them to great levels of success.

Rupp's Wildcat teams won 4 NCAA championships (1948, 1949, 1951, 1958), one NIT title in 1946, appeared in 20 NCAA tournaments, had 6 NCAA Final Four appearances, captured 27 Southeastern Conference (SEC) regular season titles, and won 13 SEC tournaments. Rupp's Kentucky teams also finished ranked #1 on 6 occasions in the final Associated Press college basketball poll and 4 times in the United Press International (Coaches) poll. In addition, Rupp's legendary 1966 Kentucky squad (nicknamed "Rupp's Runts", as no starting player on the squad was taller than 6'5") finished second in the NCAA tournament, and his powerful 1947 Wildcats finished second in the NIT. Also, both Rupp's 1933 and 1954 Kentucky squads were awarded the Helms National Championship. The team did not play the 1952–1953 season because of a point shaving scandal during its 1949 NCAA Championship year (the scandal involving six other schools and 33 players in total). Five of Rupp's Kentucky players, including Alex Groza and Ralph Beard, were implicated (although some were not convicted of any wrongdoing). Groza and Beard, stars of the 1948 U.S. Olympic basketball team and now professionals, were thrown out of the NBA for life as a result.[16] The team returned next year to its position of dominance by posting a perfect 25-0 record in regular season play, for which it was awarded the 1954 Helms National Championship. On the team were four players who had graduated at the conclusion of the previous academic year. When the NCAA ruled those players ineligible from post-season play, Coach Rupp decided to skip the 1954 NCAA and NIT (which still carried a good deal of prestige) Tournaments in protest.[17]

The 1966 NCAA championship game against Texas Western (now University of Texas-El Paso or UTEP) marked the first occurrence that an all-white starting five (Kentucky) played an all-black starting five (Texas Western) in the NCAA championship game. Texas Western won the game 72-65, on the night of March 19, 1966. This game, and the result of it, were especially significant as the game came at a time when the civil rights movement was coming into full swing around the country. In 1969, after actively recruiting black players for over 6 years, Rupp finally signed his first black player, Tom Payne, an athletic 7'-1" center out of Louisville. This ended the aspect of all-white Kentucky teams forever, and marked a new era with many notable black Kentucky basketball legends, including Jack Givens, Sam Bowie, Kenny Walker, Jamal Mashburn and Tayshaun Prince.[18]

Rupp was forced into retirement in 1972 after reaching age 70, which at the time was the mandatory retirement age for all University of Kentucky employees. He was a 4-time National Coach-of-the-Year award winner.

Joe B. Hall (1972–1985)[]

Joe B. Hall was the head basketball coach at Kentucky from 1972 to 1985. Although he had been an assistant at Kentucky since 1965, Coach Hall was given a difficult task: to follow in the footsteps of his legendary predecessor, Adolph Rupp. In the 1978 NCAA Tournament, he coached the Wildcats to their fifth NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship. He was named National Coach of the Year in 1978 and SEC Coach of the Year on four different occasions. His record at UK was 297–100, and 373–156 over his career.

Along with the 1978 title, Hall also guided Kentucky to a runner-up finish to UCLA in the 1975 NCAA tournament (which included an upset of heavily-favored and previously undefeated Indiana in a regional final), a Final Four appearance in the 1984 NCAA Tournament (losing to eventual champion Georgetown), and an NIT championship in 1976. He won eight SEC regular season championships and one SEC tournament championship (1984). (In this context, it must be noted that the SEC abolished its conference tournament in 1953 and did not reinstate it until 1979.)

Coach Hall is one of only three men to both play on a NCAA championship team (1949- Kentucky) and coach a NCAA championship team (1978- Kentucky). The only others to achieve this feat are:

  • Bob Knight – Player for Ohio State in 1960 and coach at Indiana in 1976, 1981, and 1987.
  • Dean Smith – Player for Kansas in 1952 and coach at North Carolina in 1982 and 1993.

That being said, Coach Hall is the only man in history to play for an NCAA championship team and coach an NCAA championship team at the same university.

Eddie Sutton (1985–1989)[]

In 1985, Eddie Sutton succeeded Joe B. Hall. He coached the Wildcats for four years, leading them to the Elite Eight of the 1986 NCAA Tournament. Two seasons later, Sutton and the 25–5 Wildcats captured their 37th SEC title and were ranked as the 6th college basketball team in the nation by the Associated Press and UPI[19][20] before losing to Villanova in the Tournament.

Kentucky entered the 1988–89 season with a gutted roster. Ed Davender, Robert Lock and Winston Bennett had all graduated from school, while All-SEC sophomore Rex Chapman left school early to enter the 1988 NBA Draft. Additionally, sophomore standout Eric Manuel was suspected of cheating on his college entrance exam and voluntarily agreed to sit out until the investigation was finished. Potential franchise recruit Shawn Kemp transferred out of Kentucky after signing with the school early that year.[21] Unfortunately, Manuel was forced to sit out the entire season as the investigation dragged on, essentially leaving the Wildcats in the hands of inexperienced sophomore LeRon Ellis and true freshman Chris Mills. The two underclassmen struggled to fill the talent vacuum on the court and the Wildcats finished with a losing record of 13-19, the team's first losing full-season record since 1927.[20] To add injury to insult, the NCAA announced at the end of the season that its investigation into the basketball program had found the school guilty of violating numerous NCAA policies.[22]

The scandal broke when Emery Worldwide employees discovered $1,000 in cash in an envelope Kentucky assistant coach Dwane Casey sent to Mills' father.[23] Another player, Eric Manuel, was found to have received improper assistance on his college entrance exams and was banned from NCAA competition. Kentucky was already on probation stemming from an extensive scheme of payments to recruits, and the NCAA seriously considered hitting the Wildcats with the "death penalty", which would have shut down the entire basketball program (as opposed to simply being banned from postseason play) for up to two years. However, school president David Roselle forced Sutton and athletic director Cliff Hagan to resign. The Wildcats were slapped with three years' probation, a two-year ban from postseason play and a ban from live television in 1989–90.[24]

Rick Pitino (1989–1997)[]

In 1989, Rick Pitino left the NBA's New York Knicks and became the coach at a Kentucky program reeling from the aforementioned scandal. Pitino quickly restored Kentucky's reputation and performance, leading his second school to the Final Four in the 1993 NCAA Tournament, and winning a national title in the 1996 NCAA Tournament, Kentucky's first NCAA championship in 18 years. The following year, Pitino's Kentucky team made it back to the national title game, losing to Arizona in overtime in the finals of the 1997 NCAA Tournament. Pitino's fast-paced teams at Kentucky were favorites of the school's fans. It was primarily at Kentucky where he implemented his signature style of full-court pressure defense.

Pitino left Kentucky in 1997 to coach the NBA's Boston Celtics, he then went on to coach Kentucky's in-state rival, the University of Louisville.

Orlando "Tubby" Smith (1997–2007)[]

Orlando "Tubby" Smith was introduced as the Wildcats' 20th head coach on May 12, 1997, charged with the unenviable task of replacing popular coach Rick Pitino. The Wildcats were at the top of the basketball world at the time, having won a national title in 1996 and, according to many, missing a second straight title in 1997 by the torn ACL of shooting guard Derek Anderson.[25] (Anderson tore his ACL in January against SEC foe Auburn; Kentucky lost the 1997 title game in overtime to the Arizona Wildcats.) The team Smith inherited sported seven players from the Arizona loss, and five from the 1996 championship team. However, since most of the players who had left after the 1996 and 1997 seasons were high NBA draft picks, his team had the lowest pre-season ranking since Kentucky came off probation in 1991.[26]

In his first season at UK, he coached the Wildcats to their seventh NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, including a come-from-behind victory against Duke in the Elite Eight. His 1998 National Championship is unique in modern times, as being along with 1985 Villanova the 2nd team in over twenty years to win without a First Team All American or future NBA Lottery Pick. (see 1998 NCAA Tournament).

Smith's teams, known primarily for a defense-oriented slower style of play coined "Tubbyball", received mixed reviews among Kentucky fans who have historically enjoyed a faster, higher-scoring style of play under previous coaches. Smith was also under pressure from Kentucky fans to recruit better players.

Smith led Kentucky to one National Championship in 1998, a perfect 16–0 regular season conference record in 2003, five SEC regular season championships (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005) and five SEC Tournament titles (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004), with six Sweet Sixteen finishes and four Elite Eight finishes (1998, 1999, 2003, 2005) in his ten seasons. He totaled 100 wins quicker than any other Wildcat coach except Hall of Famer Adolph Rupp, reaching the plateau in 130 games. In 2005, he was also named AP Coach of the Year.

Although Smith compiled an impressive resume during his UK career, he came under considerable pressure from many UK fans, who believed that his failure to achieve even a single Final Four appearance in his last nine seasons was inadequate by UK standards. This drought is the longest of any coach in UK history,[27] although Tubby did come just a double-overtime loss short of another Final Four appearance in 2005. On March 22, 2007, Smith resigned his position of UK Head Coach to accept the head coach position at the University of Minnesota.[28]

Billy Gillispie (2007–2009)[]

On April 6, 2007, Billy Gillispie was formally announced as the new head coach of the University of Kentucky by UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart. He fielded questions from the media during the press conference held at UK's new practice facility, the Joe Craft Center. He expressed his excitement and joy to be not only considered for the position but to have been given the honor and the opportunity to coach what former UK coach Rick Pitino referred to as the "Roman Empire" of college basketball. "I'm very, very grateful and honored to be here, but we have a lot of work to do."[29] Gillispie became only the sixth head coach in the last 76 years at the school.[30]

Gillispie's second season again started out rocky in 2008 as the 'Cats fell to VMI in their season opener. The second game of the season saw the Wildcats fall to North Carolina by 19 points. UK rebounded to win 11 of their next 12 games, improving their record to 11–3. On January 4, the Wildcats lost a heart breaker to arch rival Louisville 74–71 after a 25 ft. shot by Edgar Sosa with 2.3 seconds remaining in the game. Prior to the shot, UK was down 7 with 38.5 seconds left, and Jodie Meeks was fouled shooting a three, proceeded to make all three free throw shots, Patrick Patterson stole an inbound and passed it to Jodie Meeks who laid it in to bring the game to 71–69 with 29.6 left, and then an inbound pass went long and Jodie Meeks snatched the pass, drove to the hoop and was fouled, and then made both free throws to tie the game at 71 with 22.9 left. So all in all, UK and Jodie Meeks got seven points in about 15 seconds to tie the game.[31] Kentucky disposed of Vanderbilt to win their SEC opener on January 10 70–60. On January 13, in a road game against Tennessee, Jodie Meeks set a new Kentucky scoring record by dropping 54 points on the Volunteers. This total bested Dan Issel's 39 year old scoring record by 1 point, and propelled UK to a 90–72 win and 2–0 start in league play.[32] Kentucky followed up this effort with a 68–45 victory at Georgia, improving to 14–4 on the season. With wins over Auburn and Alabama, Kentucky moved to 5–0 in the SEC. On January 26, UK was ranked in the AP Poll (24th) for the first time since week 1 of the 2007–2008 season.[33] UK promptly dropped 3 in a row (to Ole Miss, South Carolina, & Mississippi State) before rebounding at home with a thrilling 68–65 win over Florida. Jodie Meeks scored 23 points in the contest, including the fade-away contested 3 point basket with less than 5 seconds remaining to seal the win for UK. On Valentine's Day Kentucky handily defeated Arkansas at Bud Walton Arena 79–63 behind another strong performance from Jodie Meeks. Meeks contributed 45 points and helped UK win despite the absence of Patrick Patterson (sprained ankle). With the win, UK remained tied with South Carolina and Tennessee for 1st in the SEC East at 7–3.[34] Following the win UK completely collapsed, losing 5 of its last 6 games to finish the regular season 19–12 with an 8–8 SEC record. Entering the SEC tournament many felt UK would need to win the championship game to get into the NCAA tournament, but UK was defeated in the second game vs. LSU. With an unimpressive regular season and quick elimination in the SEC tournament, UK did indeed miss the NCAA tournament for the first time in 18 years and instead received an invitation to the NIT tournament where the team was defeated in the quarterfinal round against Notre Dame.[35][36]

On March 27, 2009 an 18 minute long meeting occurred between Billy Gillispie, President Dr. Lee Todd, Jr. and Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart, after which it was announced that Gillispie would not be returning as the head coach the next season. Barnhart stressed the firing was due to more than wins and losses, citing "philosophical differences" and "a clear gap in how the rules and responsibilities overseeing the program are viewed".[37]

John Calipari (2009–present)[]

On April 1, 2009, John Calipari replaced Billy Gillispie as the Wildcats head coach. To begin his tenure at the University of Kentucky, John Calipari signed one of the best all time recruiting classes.[38] The class was headlined by four five-star recruits: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton, and Eric Bledsoe.[39] On December 19, 2009, the Wildcats defeated Austin Peay 90-69 extending their record to 11-0, and John Calipari broke Adolph Rupp's record for the most consecutive wins to start a season for a first-year head coach at Kentucky. Kentucky defeated the Drexel Dragons 88-44 on December 21, 2009 to become the first program in college basketball history to claim their 2000th victory.[40] By January 25, 2010, Coach Cal had the University of Kentucky ranked #1 in both the ESPN/Coaches poll and AP poll with a record of 19-0.[41] By this point, these feats were not even considered his greatest accomplishment at the school, as John Calipari had raised in excess of $1.5 million to aid the country of Haiti during the aftermath of a natural disaster. President Obama called the Wildcats to thank them for their relief efforts and wish them luck in their future endeavors. To finish off the 2009-10 regular season, Kentucky won its 44th SEC regular season championship (with a final 14-2 SEC record), and won its 26th SEC Tournament Championship, beating Mississippi State in the finals. The Wildcats then received a #1 seed (their 10th #1 seed in history) in the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament, where they eventually lost to West Virginia in the Elite Eight. This also marked Kentucky's record 50th NCAA Tournament appearance. If the current rankings stay true, then 2012 could be the third year in a row that the UK men's basketball team will have the #1 recruiting class under Coach Calipari.


The Wildcats have had 22 coaches in their 106-year history. John Calipari is the current coach. To date, four Wildcat coaches have won the National Coach of the Year award: Adolph Rupp in 1950, 1954, 1959 and 1966, Eddie Sutton in 1986, Rick Pitino in 1992, and Tubby Smith in 2003. Additionally, six Wildcat coaches have been named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year: Joe B. Hall in 1981 and 1984, Sutton in 1986, Pitino in 1991, 1992, 1994, and 1996, Smith in 1998, 2001, 2003, and 2005, Billy Gillispie in 2008, and John Calipari in 2010.

Postseason results[]

National championships[]

The following is a list of Kentucky's 7 National Championships:

Year Coach Opponent Score Record
1948 Adolph Rupp Baylor 58-42 36-3
1949 Adolph Rupp Oklahoma State 46-36 32-2
1951 Adolph Rupp Kansas State 68-58 32-2
1958 Adolph Rupp Seattle 84-72 23-6
1978 Joe B. Hall Duke 94-88 30-2
1996 Rick Pitino Syracuse 76-67 34-2
1998 Tubby Smith Utah 78-69 35-4
National Championships 7
1948 NCAA Tournament Results
Round Opponent Score
Elite 8 Columbia 76-51
Final 4 Holy Cross 60- 35
Championship Baylor 58-40
1949 NCAA Tournament Results
Round Opponent Score
Elite 8 Villanova 85-72
Final 4 Illinois 76-47
Championship Oklahoma State 46-36
1951 NCAA Tournament Results
Round Opponent Score
Sweet 16 Louisville 79-68
Elite 8 St. John's 59-43
Final 4 Illinois 76-74
Championship Kansas State 68-58
1958 NCAA Tournament Results
Round Opponent Score
Sweet 16 Miami (OH) 94-70
Elite 8 Notre Dame 89-56
Final 4 Temple 61-60
Championship Seattle 84-72
1978 NCAA Tournament Results
Round Opponent Score
Round #1 Florida State 85-76
Sweet 16 Miami (OH) 91-69
Elite Eight Michigan State 52-49
Final 4 Arkansas 64-59
Championship Duke 94-88
1996 NCAA Tournament Results
Round Opponent Score
Round #1 San Jose State 110-72
Round #2 Virginia Tech 84-60
Sweet 16 Utah 101-70
Elite 8 Wake Forest 83-63
Final 4 UMass 81-74
Championship Syracuse 76-67
1998 NCAA Tournament Results
Round Opponent Score
Round #1 South Carolina State 82-67
Round #2 Saint Louis 88-61
Sweet 16 UCLA 94-68
Elite 8 Duke 86-84
Final 4 Stanford 86-85 OT
Championship Utah 78-69

Final Four history[]

1942-Semifinalist 1948-Champion 1949-Champion 1951-Champion
1958-Champion 1966-Finalist 1975-Finalist 1978-Champion
1984-Semifinalist 1993-Semifinalist 1996-Champion 1997-Finalist
1998-Champion 2011-Semifinalist

Retired jerseys[]


Basil Hayden Carey Spicer Forest Sale John DeMoisey #00 Adrian Smith #50
Layton Rouse #26 Ken Rollins #10 Alex Groza #15 Ralph Beard #12
Wallace Jones #27 Cliff Barker #23 Bill Spivey #77 Cliff Hagan #6
Frank Ramsey #30 Lou Tsioropoulos #16 Billy Evans #42 Gayle Rose #20
Jerry Bird #22 Phil Grawemeyer #44 Bob Burrow #52 Vernon Hatton #50
Johnny Cox #24 Cotton Nash #44 Louie Dampier #10 Pat Riley #42
Dan Issel #44 Kevin Grevey #35 Jack "Goose" Givens #21 Rick Robey #53
Kyle Macy #4 Sam Bowie #31 Kenny "Sky" Walker #34 Deron Feldhaus #12
John Pelphrey #34 Richie Farmer #32 Sean Woods #11 Jamal Mashburn #24


Adolph Rupp Joe B. Hall Rick Pitino


Cawood Ledford (radio commentator) Bill "Mr. Wildcat" Keightley (equipment manager)

Wildcats in the NBA[]

Position Name Height Weight (lbs.) Hometown Draft Year (Pick, Team) All-Stars NBA Championships NBA Team
G-F Kelenna Azubuike 6'5" 220 Tulsa, OK 2005 (undrafted) 0 0 New York Knicks
G Eric Bledsoe 6'1" 190 Birmingham, AL 2010 (18, Oklahoma City) 0 0 Los Angeles Clippers
G Keith Bogans 6'5" 215 Alexandria, VA 2003 (43, Milwaukee) 0 0 Chicago Bulls
C DeMarcus Cousins 6'11" 270 Mobile, AL 2010 (5, Sacramento) 0 0 Sacramento Kings
F-C Chuck Hayes 6'6" 238 Modesto, CA 2005 (undrafted) 0 0 Houston Rockets
C Jamaal Magloire 6'10" 260 Toronto, ON 2000 (19, New Orleans) 1 (2004) 0 Miami Heat
C Nazr Mohammed 6'10" 238 Chicago, IL 1998 (29, Utah) 0 1 (2005 San Antonio) Oklahoma City Thunder
G Jodie Meeks 6'4" 208 Norcross, GA 2009 (41, Milwaukee) 0 0 Philadelphia 76ers
C Daniel Orton 6'10" 255 Oklahoma City, OK 2010 (29, Orlando Magic) 0 0 Orlando Magic
F Patrick Patterson 6'9" 235 Huntington, WV 2010 (14, Houston) 0 0 Houston Rockets
F Tayshaun Prince 6'9" 215 Compton, CA 2002 (23, Detroit) 0 1 (2004 Detroit) Detroit Pistons
G Rajon Rondo 6'1" 176 Louisville, KY 2006 (21, Phoenix) 2 (2010, 2011) 1 (2008 Boston) Boston Celtics
G John Wall 6'4" 195 Raleigh, NC 2010 (1, Washington) 0 0 Washington Wizards
Wildcats in the NBA
NBA Draft selections
Total selected: 96
Lottery picks in draft: 10
1st Round: 25
No. 1 Picks: 1
NBA achievements
Olympic Gold Medals: 10
NBA Champions: 18
Basketball Hall of Famers: 6

Memorable teams[]

  • The Fabulous Five: The 1948 team not only won the NCAA title, but provided the core of the United States 1948 Olympic team that won the gold medal in the London Games.
  • The 1954 Undefeated Team, which went 25-0 in the regular season and defeated LSU in a playoff to earn the Southeastern Conference bid to the NCAA tournament. However, several of the team's players had technically graduated during the 1954 season and were prohibited from tournament play. Despite the wishes of the players, Rupp refused to allow the team to play in the tournament, thus leading to the team's reputation as one of the best teams ever to fail to win an NCAA title.[42]
  • The Fiddlin' Five: The 1958 team was given its nickname by Rupp due to his perception that they tended to "fiddle" early in games. However, they would right their ship in time to give Rupp his fourth and last national title.
  • Rupp's Runts: The 1966 team, with no starter taller than 6'5", was arguably the most beloved in UK history. Despite its lack of size, it used devastating defensive pressure and a fast-paced offense to take a 27-1 record and top national ranking into the NCAA final against Texas Western. With the Kentucky team devastated by the flu, however, the Miners would deny Rupp another title. For more details on the game, see the articles for Rupp and the Miners' coach, Don Haskins. Future NBA coach and Hall-of Famer Pat Riley was a starter on this team. So was ABA and NBA star Louie Dampier. Both players were named All-Americans in 1966. Sportscaster Larry Conley was also a starter, along with Tom Kron and Thad Jaracz. All five starters were All-SEC selections in 1966.
  • "The Season Without Celebration": Going into the 1978 season, the Wildcats faced perhaps the most suffocating expectations of any UK team. As freshmen, that year's senior class lost in the 1975 final to UCLA in John Wooden's final game as the Bruins' head coach. The seniors had an outstanding supporting cast, and most Kentucky fans would have accepted nothing less than a national title. Despite its successful run to the title, the team was widely criticized, especially by its own fans, for being too serious and focused, giving rise to the "season without celebration" moniker. Much of the criticism was directed at Head Coach Joe B. Hall, who felt under tremendous pressure from fans and boosters to win the championship, and didn't let up in his quest.
  • The Unforgettables: This refers to the 1992 team, and more specifically, to the team's four seniors, Richie Farmer, Deron Feldhaus, John Pelphrey, and Sean Woods. During their senior year, after a two-year absence from postseason play due to NCAA probation, they led the Cats to a deep run in the NCAA tournament, losing 104-103 in the East Regional final to Duke in an overtime game often called the greatest game in NCAA basketball history.[1][2] Adding to the team's popularity was the fact that three (Farmer, Feldhaus, Pelphrey) of the four seniors were from small towns in the eastern half of Kentucky. The quartet's jerseys (not their numbers) were retired by UK immediately after the Duke loss; it is very unusual for any team to retire a jersey so quickly after a player's career is finished.
  • Mardi Gras Miracle: Although the 1994 season would be quite a disappointment in terms of the NCAA Tournament (only non-probation year Pitino failed to take the Cats to at least the Elite Eight), this season is best known for the Wildcats' 31-point comeback at LSU. Down 68-37 with less than sixteen minutes left in the game, Kentucky outscored LSU 62-27 to win 99-95 in one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA basketball history.[3]
  • The Untouchables: The 1996 team was arguably the most talented team in UK basketball history, and quite possibly the NCAA, with nine players who would eventually play in the NBA:
This team became the first SEC team in 40 years to go through the conference regular season undefeated (the Cats would repeat this feat in 2003). After stumbling in the SEC tournament final against Mississippi State, they would make a dominating run to the Final Four. They avenged an early-season loss to UMass in the national semifinals, and defeated Syracuse in the final. Many of these players, including Scott Padgett, another future NBA player who was ineligible in 1996, returned the following season:
  • The Unbelievables: The 1997 team just missed repeating as national champions when they lost to Arizona in overtime in the NCAA championship game. The nickname comes from the fact that early on in the season, few Wildcats fans gave Kentucky much of a chance of repeating their magical 1996 season. It also gained in importance as the team only had nine total players for the 1997 NCAA Tournament due to injury and transfers. Mohammed, Padgett, Sheppard, and Turner would be back the following season:
  • The Comeback Cats: The 1998 national champions, in Head Coach Tubby Smith's first year at Kentucky, earned this nickname in their last three games. In the South Regional final against Duke, they gained a measure of payback against Duke for the 1992 defeat, coming back from a 17-point deficit with 9:38 remaining. In the national semifinal, they came back from a double-digit halftime deficit again, this time against Stanford. In the final against Utah, they became the first team to come back from a double-digit halftime deficit in the final game.:
  • The Draft Cats: The 2010 team just missed the Final Four when they lost to West Virginia in the Elite Eight. The name comes from the 2010 NBA Draft when they set a record with five players being drafted from the same school in the first round. These players were: John Wall (1st selection), DeMarcus Cousins (5th), Patrick Patterson (14th), Eric Bledsoe (18th), and Daniel Orton (29th).

Three point streak[]

The Wildcats have gone 786 consecutive games (non-exhibition) with at least one three-point field goal made[43] as of March 25, 2011, the third longest such streak in the nation. Only UNLV and Vanderbilt have a longer active such streak in men's college basketball.

Cumulative all time statistics (aka: "The List")[]

All Time Wins: 2051 (NCAA rank #1)

All Time Winning Percentage: .760 (NCAA rank #1)

NCAA Championships: 7 (NCAA rank #2)

NCAA Championship Game Appearances: 10 (NCAA rank #2)

NCAA Final Four Appearances: 13 (NCAA rank #4)

NCAA Final Four Wins: 17 (NCAA rank #2)

NCAA Elite-8 Appearances: 33 (NCAA rank #1)

NCAA Sweet-16 Appearances: 42 (NCAA rank #1)

NCAA Tournament Appearances: 51 (NCAA rank #1)

NCAA Tournament Wins: 104 (NCAA rank #2)

NCAA Tournament Games Played: 150 (NCAA rank #1)

NCAA Tournament Winning Percentage: .698 (NCAA rank #5)

Total Postseason Tournament Appearances (NCAA and NIT): 58 (NCAA rank #1)

NBA Draft Picks: 96 (NCAA rank #1)

All Americans: 52 (NCAA rank #1)

All American Total Selections: 82 (NCAA rank #1)

First Team Consensus All Americans: 16 (NCAA rank #2)

First Team Consensus All American Total Selections: 21 (NCAA rank #2)

Final AP Poll Top-25 Finishes: 47 (NCAA rank #1)

Final AP Poll Top-20 Finishes: 47 (NCAA rank #1)

Final AP Poll Top-15 Finishes: 42 (NCAA rank #1)

Final AP Poll Top-10 Finishes: 39 (NCAA rank #1)

Final AP Poll Top-5 Finishes: 27 (NCAA rank #1)

Final AP Poll #1 Finishes: 8 (NCAA rank #1)

Final UPI/Coaches Poll Top-25 Finishes: 44 (NCAA rank #1)

Final UPI/Coaches Poll Top-20 Finishes: 43 (NCAA rank #1)

Final UPI/Coaches Poll Top-15 Finishes: 40 (NCAA rank #1)

Final UPI/Coaches Poll Top-10 Finishes: 36 (NCAA rank #1)

Final UPI/Coaches Poll Top-5 Finishes: 27 (NCAA rank #1)

Final UPI/Coaches Poll #1 Finishes: 7 (NCAA rank #1)

20-Win Seasons: 55 (NCAA rank #1)

25-Win Seasons: 30 (NCAA rank #2)

30-Win Seasons: 12 (NCAA rank #1)

35-Win Seasons: 4 (NCAA rank #1)

Total Winning Seasons: 91 (NCAA rank #2)

Total Non-Losing Seasons (.500 or better): 94 (NCAA rank #2)

Total Decades With a Final Four Appearance: 6 (NCAA rank #2)

Total Coaches With a NCAA Championship: 4 (NCAA rank #1)

Total Decades With a NCAA Championship: 4 (NCAA rank #1)

Conference Regular Season Championships: 46 (NCAA rank #2)

Conference Tournament Championships: 28 (NCAA rank #1)

In addition, Kentucky also has 2 NIT Titles (1946, 1976), 2 Helms Titles (1933, 1954), 2 undefeated seasons (1912, 1954), 5 Sugar Bowl Tournament Championships, 6 Naismith Hall-of-Fame Members, 4 National Players-of-the-Year, 10 #1 seeds all time in the NCAA Tournament, 40 McDonald's All-Americans, 57 1000-point scorers, and 10 Olympic Gold Medal Winners.

Furthermore, Kentucky holds the NCAA record for Consecutive Non-Losing Seasons (60), and for Consecutive Home Court Victories (129). Kentucky also has 23 National Attendance Titles (an NCAA record), has made a 3-point basket in 786 consecutive games, and was the first school to reach both the 1000-win and 2000-win victory plateaus.

(All statistics listed above are continuously updated by the original compiler.)

2005-06 men's schedule[]

External links[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Nelli, p. 6
  2. 2.0 2.1 Nelli, p. 7
  3. 3.0 3.1 "All-Time UK Coaches". UK Athletics. Archived from the original on 2007-05-16. Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
  4. Nelli, p. 14
  5. Stanly, Gregory Kent, "Before Big Blue – Sports at the University of Kentucky 1880-1940," (The University Press of Kentucky, 1996), p. 115-116, ISBN 0-8131-1991-X.
  6. Nelli, p. 15
  7. Nelli, pp. 15–17
  8. Nelli, pp. 17–20
  9. Nelli, p. 21
  10. Nelli, pp. 22–23
  11. Nelli, p. 23
  12. Nelli, pp. 24–25
  13. Nelli, pp. 27–28
  14. Nelli, pp. 29–30
  17. 1953-54 Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team
  19. Scott, Jon. "Statistics for 1987-88". Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Page. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 Scott, Jon. "Kentucky Teams of the Past". Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Page. Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  21. Drum, Keith (1988-11-16). "Commentary". United Press International. 
  22. Rhoden, William C. (1989-05-20). "Kentucky's Basketball Program And 2 Players Heavily Penalized". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  23. York, Michael. "Kentucky Loves Its Basketball, but Not at Any Price" The Washington Post, 11 December 1988.
  24. Kirkpatrick, Curry. Dodging a Bullet. Sports Illustrated, 1989-05-29.
  25. "Kentucky". 2000-11-02. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  26. Shannon, Kelley. "Final Four coaches savor first-time experience". South Coast Today. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  27. Davis, Ken. "Tubby should keep job, despite spoiled fans". MSNBC. Retrieved 2007-09-11. 
  28. ESPN - Smith leaving Kentucky to coach Minnesota - Men's College Basketball
  29. The Associated Press (2007-04-06). "Gillispie "Honored" To Be New UK Coach". WLEX-TV. Retrieved 2007-04-06. 
  30. McMurray, Jeffrey (2007-04-06). "UK Names Billy Gillispie New Head Basketball Coach". WKYT-TV. Retrieved 2007-04-06. 
  40. "No. 3 Kentucky beats Drexel to reach 2,000 wins". Lexington, Kentucky: Time Warner Company. December 21, 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2009. 
  42. Template:Cite book
  43. UK-Arkansas Razorbacks game notes from Retrieved 2009-02-14.