It’s been four years, but the Kentucky Wildcats found their way back to Maui for the prestigious EA Sports Maui Invitational. The last time UK appeared on the island, they posted a 1-2 record which included a win over DePaul and losses to No. 5 UCLA and the John Calipari-coached Memphis Tigers in the 2006 Maui Invitational.
Kentucky will face the Oklahoma Sooners in the first round in a match-up of teams that haven’t met on the hardwood in 23 years. The Wildcats enter the tournament on a two-game winning streak to open the 2010-11 campaign, while the Sooners enter on a three-game winning streak of their own.
Kentucky has posted a 8-4 (.667) record on the island, a record that includes the 1993 Maui Invitational Championship.
Thee Wildcats have won both meetings between the two schools, however the two haven’t met since the 1987 season. Kentucky upset the 12th ranked Sooners 75-74 in the regular season finale in Rupp Arena. UK posted a 43-33 win in the only other meeting in the 1947 season.
When it comes to playing in the Aloha State, the Wildcats always bring their ‘A’ game. Kentucky has a 10-4 all-time record playing in the state of Hawaii.
The Cats first trip to the Islands came in 1985 when the team defeated the Chaminade Swordsmen (11/26/85) 89-57 and the Hawaii Rainbows (11/27/85) 98-65. All-American Kenny Walker poured in 55 points for UK during that trip. Kentucky revisited the islands again in 1993, its first trip to the Maui Invitational.
The Wildcats went 3-0 in the tournament including an exciting 93-92 victory over 13th ranked Arizona in the championship game. Jeff Brassow’s tip-in at the
buzzer gave UK the victory over the Wildcats from the West.
Kentucky returned to the Maui tournament again in 1997 coming away with a 2-1 record and wins over George Washington (70-55) and Missouri (77-55) but this time Arizona got the better of UK topping Kentucky 89-74.
Fast forward to 2002 when the 15th ranked Wildcats opened the 2002-03 campaign in Maui posting a 2-1 record with victories over Arizona State (82-65) and Gonzaga (80-72) sandwiched around a 75-61 loss to Virginia.
Kentucky’s most recent visit to Paradise came in the 2006-07 season when the Cats participated in its fourth EA Sports Maui Invitational. The Wildcats were on the back end of a stretch that had Kentucky playing five games in eight games. UK won its opening game against DePaul, but then dropped two straight against fifth-ranked UCLA and 11th-ranked Memphis coached by John Calipari.