Alma Mater (Year):
|88-39 (69.3%), 4 years
Oklahoma A&M (1958)
March 12, 1936
Known for his reputation of building teams from scratch, Eddie Sutton left Arkansas and came to Kentucky with the cupboard far from empty. With returning All- American Kenny Walker anchoring the paint, Sutton’s first Wildcat team was his best, rolling to a 32-4 record in 1985-86 and a berth in the Elite Eight. His Wildcats were third in the final polls, finished 17-1 in SEC play and rolled to the school’s 36th league championship. All this after most prognosticators picked the Cats for a third-place conference finish.
For UK’s performance, Sutton was named National Coach of the Year and SEC Coach of the Year in 1986.
Sutton battled through the 1987 season, as injuries depleted the Wildcats’ roster to only seven scholarship athletes. But in his third year, UK bolted to 10-0 start with wins over Indiana and Louisville to earn a No. 1 ranking. The Cats were crowned SEC champs in both the regular season and postseason but fell to Villanova in the Southeast Regional final, 80-74.
Following the 1988 season, Sutton’s reign came under siege as rules violations were discovered in the UK basketball program. The embattled coach completed his UK career with a 13-19 record in 1989, the school’s first losing season since 1927. He resigned his post following the season, and after leaving basketball for a year, returned to Oklahoma State where he is still head coach.