On This Date In UK History

Special Thanks To Big Blue Booyah

March 28th

your #5 University of Kentucky Wildcats narrowly got by a powerful #10 Stanford team in overtime, 86-85, to advance to the NCAA Championship game against old friend Utah. It was becoming apparent that the common theme of this team was the Comeback, as time after time Kentucky saw themselves down early and simply trying to keep the game close. They knew they would ultimately have a big run in them, and were confident enough in their defense to think it would eventually solve the opponents offense. This defensive scheme was probably the greatest strength of first year head coach Orlando "Tubby" Smith. Senior Jeff Sheppard had a monster game, leading all scorers with a career-high 27 points (9-15 FG, 4-8 3PM). The Peachtree City, Georgia-native also added six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Nazr Mohammed ended with 18 points (17 in the second half) and five rebounds and Scott Padgett with 10 points and six rebounds.

March 27th

Billy Gillispie was fired as the coach of Kentucky. While that is awesome, it's not the big thing.

On this date in 1978, your #1 University of Kentucky Wildcats slipped past the #7 Duke Blue Devils, 94-88, giving coach Joe B. Hall his first and only Championship. Big Blue was led that day by Jack "Goose" Givens, who put the hammer down scoring 41 points in the Championship game. The win gave the basketball program its fifth NCAA Title, and first since 1958. Seniors Rick Robey (20 points - 11 rebounds) and the aforementioned Goose Givens (18-27 from the field, eight rebounds) led the charge in front of 18,721 at the Checkerdome in St. Louis. Kyle Macy and his tube socks were a perfect 3-3 on the day, finishing with nine points and eight assists. Coach Hall pulled the starters when the Cats went up 16, but had to reinsert them into the lineup with ten seconds left, as the lead had been cut to four. Keep in mind this score happened before a three point shot and shot clock. The game was capped off by James Lee and his emphatic slamma-jamma on a fast break as the clock was running out, giving us the final margin.

March 26th

your #6 University of Kentucky Wildcats fought off a scrappy #17 Massachusetts squad and their up and coming head coach John Calipari, 87-77, to advance to the East Region finals in Philadelphia. Fresh off an SEC Tournament MVP, Jamal Mashburn continued his torrid streak, finishing with 30 points on 11-15 shooting. Unforgettable senior John Pelphrey helped Mash out with 18 points of his own. The red-haired Paintsville-native added four assists, four rebounds, and four steals. The young hot-head coach was charged with a technical foul that night for getting out of his coaching box, a charge Calipari denies to this day. Coach Cal says there were so many lines on The Spectrum floor that it simply appeared like he was out of the box. A claim that I definitely would not have believed if he wasn't the head coach of my favorite basketball team. And since he is, I'll just say the refs were clearly in the wrong, but the outcome was ultimately unaffected and correct.

March 25th

your #2 University of Kentucky Wildcats absolutely destroyed #16 Wake Forest, 103-69, in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen to move one game closer to the program's first Final Four in nine years. Many experts thought this could be a trap game for the Cats, as the Demon Deacon duo of Randolph Childress and Rodney Rogers had run roughshod over the Atlantic Coast Conference. The '93 version of the Cats, (led by their own All-American, Jamal Mashburn) would have none of it, though, as Kentucky came out like a team possessed. The team couldn't miss, darting out to leads of 20-4 and 34-8, ultimately running the halftime margin to 60-26. The weirdest thing about the affair was the fact Wake hit six of its first seven shots also.

Some ridiculous stats include:

- Kentucky made 39 baskets (including their first eight three-pointers) on 23 assists
- Wake Forest attempted 44 shots and made 21.
- Jamal Mashburn scored all 23 points (5-5 3PM) in the first half.
- Travis Ford (10-11 FG, 5-6 3PM) scored 26 points.
- Kentucky was 16-24 from three-point range on the day.
- Kentucky was 9-17 from the free throw line.
- Freshman Tony Delk finished the game 1-7 for three points.
- Senior transfer Todd Svoboda

March 24th

your #3 University of Kentucky Wildcats defeated #6 Illinois, 54-51, to advance to the NCAA Final Four game to face Georgetown. It helped that the game took place in Rupp Arena, but after falling short each year since 1978, the Big Blue faithful was taking anything it could. The twin towers dominated the inside for Kentucky, with Sam Bowie netting 11 points and 14 rebounds, and Melvin Turpin ending with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Senior and Covington-native, Dicky Beal controlled the outside with nine points and six assists and freshman Winston Bennett had eight huge points off the bench to help the Cats earn the Seattle Final Four berth. The win moved UK to 29-4 on the season, and helped Joe B. Hall put his stamp on an SEC regular season title, an SEC Tournament Championship, and a Final Four berth. We all know the rest of the story as the Boys in Blue had a not-too-memorable second half against the Hoyas. It was Joe B. Hall's third Final Four appearance.

March 23rd

your top-ranked University of Kentucky Wildcats, led by head coach Adolph Rupp, dominated Baylor, 58-42, to earn the program's first ever NCAA Championship. The team, known as The Fabulous Five, finished with a record 34 wins and only two defeats (Temple and Notre Dame). The Cats got out quick in the title game, going ahead 24-7, and taking a 13 point lead into the half. Baylor tried slowing the game down against the heavily favored Wildcats, but Kentucky's size and speed was too much for the Bears. The 6'7" Alex Groza (14 points) controlled the inside and the lightning fast Ralph Beard (12 points) handled everything outside in front of the Madison Square Garden crowd of over 16,000. One of the most celebrated teams in program history, the '48 squad went on to the Olympics and brought the gold home by dispatching of the Frenchies, 65-21, in the finals. The remaining members of The Original Fabulous Five were: Wallace "Wah Wah" Jones, Kenny Rollins, Cliff Barker.

March 22nd

your University of Kentucky Wildcats, led by a rag-tag bunch of Rick Pitino recruits helped new head coach Tubby Smith get revenge of the highest kind. The Comeback Cats did exactly that, as they came from 17 points behind in the second half to rip the hearts out of the Duke faithful to advance to the Final Four. With things looking dire for the Cats in St. Pete, Jeff Sheppard and Wayne Turner led a charge and abused whatever overrated point guard Duke was using that day. His name........Jimmy Wojotyrfiszjbciyuski, and he was such a hero that was able to make it back onto the court after Jamal Magloire apparently tried to murder him. Anyway, after Duke used its last timeout with about 6:00 minutes to play, Tubby let the game play out without any planned clock stoppage. This strategy allowed the Cats to snatch the momentum away (mainly with a smaller lineup), allowing two Kentucky Boys to hit three pointers down the stretch to give Big Blue the lead. Some final stats on the afternoon included: Wayne Turner (16 points - 8 assists), Jeff Sheppard (18 points - 11 rebounds), Heshimu Evans (14 points - 11 rebounds), Scott Padgett (12 points, 3-5 3PM), Cameron Mills (5 points, 1-1 3PM).


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