College basketball’s two winningest programs have met 33 times, with the Cats leaving the court victorious 23 times. Calipari is 4-7 against Kansas, Self is 7-5 vs. Kentucky. In 2005, Kentucky had a solid lead in the win column with 1900 all-time to Kansas’ 1850. Entering 2021-22, Kentucky led 2327-2323. According to NCAA stats, Kentucky currently has 2343 total wins compared to 2340 for Kansas. A win Saturday for the Jayhawks would bring Kansas to within 2 wins of Kentucky in the all-time wins race.
The Jayhawks have won four straight home games against Kentucky dating back to 1985 — including an infamous 150-95 victory in 1989. Their last matchup at The Phog occurred during the 2016 Big 12/SEC Challenge, with Kansas taking a 90-84 overtime victory.
Here are some Kentucky vs Kansas matchups worth remembering:
1976: Kansas Opens Rupp Arena
It was fitting that the first game in Rupp Arena opened with a game against Rupp’s alma mater. Jack Givens, Mike Phillips and Rick Robey took the Jayhawks behind the woodshed in a dominating 27-point victory.
1978: #10 Kentucky 67, #5 Kansas 66
Trailing by six with less than 30 seconds to play, the Cats found a way to come back without the help of a three-point line.
1989: UK 95, #2 Kansas 150
In Rick Pitino’s first season at Kentucky, the Cats took a beating, the second-largest margin of defeat in program history. My favorite Rick Pitino-UK story comes from Gene Wojciechowski’s The Last Great Game:
The Kansas lead grew. UK was out of timeouts. Jayhawks coach Roy Williams yelled out to Pitino late in the game, “Rick what do you want me to do. We’ve got the third team in. Do you want me to call the timeout for you?”
“Go f*** yourself,” said Pitino, according to those on press row. “You know what you can do with your ****ing timeout.”
1999 NCAA Tourney 2nd Round: UK 92, KU 88 (OT)
Kansas couldn’t keep up with Kentucky’s one-two punch of Scott Padgett and Wayne Turner. Padgett had 29 points and 10 rebounds, Turner added 19 points and 7 assists to lead Kentucky to a four-point overtime victory in New Orleans, a locale that’s never been kind to Kansas.
2011: #2 Kentucky 75, #12 Kansas 65
In the debut of the Champions Classic, Kentucky controlled the entire game with five players scoring in double figures.
2012 National Championship: UK 67, KU 59
If you’re reading this and this game isn’t one of the top five days in your life, I don’t know what to tell you.
2014: #1 Kentucky 72, #5 Kansas 40
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find video evidence of Bill Self’s opening press conference quote. After taking a sip of water he said, “I was hoping that was vodka but no it’s just water.”
2016: #20 Kentucky 84, #4 Kansas 90 (OT)
We didn’t know how good Kentucky’s 2016 team was until they went toe-to-toe with the Jayhawks on the road. Tyler Ulis was terrific (26 pts. 8 ast.) and Jamal Murray was magnificent (15 pts. 6 reb.) but the Cats had no answer for Wayne Selden (33 pts.).
2017: #4 Kentucky 73, #2 Kansas 79
The loudest loss in Rupp Arena history, the University of Kentucky invited officials from the Guinness Book of World Records to measure the decibels from the crowd before Bruce Buffer introduced the Wildcats surrounded by all eight of Kentucky’s National Championship trophies. Unfortunately, the crescendo was too early as Bam Adebayo and Co. had no answer for Josh Jackson. The future No. 4 overall pick had 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Kansas victory.
2019: #8 Kentucky 71, #9 Kansas 63
The Wildcats ended a three-game losing streak against the Jayhawks the last time the two blue bloods met in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Without Udoka Azubuike in the lineup, Kentucky crashed the glass, out-rebounding Kansas by 13. Three players recorded double-doubles, led by P.J. Washington who scored 20 of his 14 points in the second half. Washington also had 13 rebounds, Reid Travis had 18 and 12, while Keldon Johnson posted 15 points and 10 boards.
2020: #20 Kentucky 62, #7 Kansas 65
Jalen Wilson scored 21 of his career-high 23 points in the second half and posted his first double-double to help No. 7 Kansas get past No. 20 Kentucky 65-62 in the Champions Classic. Kentucky (1-2) was led by Brandon Boston Jr. and Davion Mintz, who each scored 12. Mintz had a chance to tie it with five seconds to go but his 3-pointer was off the mark and Kansas grabbed the rebound. What was supposed to be one of this season’s showcase games between college basketball’s two winningest programs devolved quickly into sloppy play, full of turnovers, missed shots and blown opportunities. With no fans or even cardboard cutouts, and the only noise being piped-in music during timeouts, the lack of intensity was palpable throughout the game.
“It didn’t have the feel at all of a game,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “It had the feel of a scrimmage.”
Walter Cornett, of Glendale, Kentucky, is the owner and operator of Walter’s Wildcat World. He founded WildcatWorld.com in 1998 making it one of the oldest Kentucky basketball fan sites in operation today.