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Kentucky Basketball Timeline

February 18, 1903

State College (Kentucky) records its first win, an 11-10 decision over Lexington YMCA. The Wildcats finished that first season with a 1-2 record.

February 18, 1909
With a 28-23 win over Cincinnati, Kentucky clinched its first winning season in school history. Following a “Senior Day” loss to Central University, the Wildcats ended the year with a 5-4 record.

January, 1910
E. R. Sweetland signs a three-year pact as State’s Director of Athletics and its first basketball coach.

March 1, 1912
Kentucky defeats Georgetown College, 19-18, to complete the season with a perfect 9-0 record and earn its first title as Southern Champions.

March 1, 1921
Kentucky upsets Tulane, Mercer, Mississippi A&M and Georgia to win the first Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association basketball championship. Hundreds of Wildcats fans await “play-by-play” via telegraph, and greet the team’s train with a celebration and parade in downtown Lexington. It is believed to be the first college basketball tournament ever played.

Spring, 1921
Basil Hayden becomes UK’s first All-America basketball player.

January 21, 1922
The Wildcats beat Louisville, 29-22, for their 100th victory.

Dec. 13, 1924
The Wildcats defeat Cincinnati in their first game in the new, 2,800-seat, $100,000 Alumni Gymnasium.

March 21, 1930
A Freeport, Ill., high school coach named Adolph Rupp is named head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky.

Dec. 18, 1930
UK defeats Georgetown College, 67-19, for the first of Adolph Rupp’s 876 victories.

Feb. 28, 1933
UK wins the first Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship by defeating Mississippi State, 46-27, in Atlanta.

Feb. 17, 1934
UK establishes a national record with its 23rd consecutive win (47-27 over Vanderbilt). Near riot erupts as fans vie for seats in Alumni Gym.

Feb. 14, 1938
Joe Hagan’s 48-foot shot with 12 seconds left lifts the Wildcats over Marquette, 35-33. After the game, Gov. A. B. “Happy” Chandler pounds a nail into the floor to mark the spot where the shot was taken.

March 20, 1942
After winning its sixth SEC championship, UK wins its first NCAA Tournament game, 46-44, over Illinois.

March 20, 1946
UK wins Rupp’s first national title, with a 46-45 victory over Rhode Island.

March 24, 1947
Before a Madison Square Garden record crowd of 18,493, Wat Misaka held Ralph Beard to two points and Utah ended the Wildcats’ bid for back-to-back NIT Championships.

March 23, 1948
Adolph Rupp’s “Fabulous Five” wins UK’s first NCAA Championship, 58-42, over Baylor. The team is met in Lexington by 15,000 fans and given a parade on a fire truck.

August 13, 1948
The U.S. Olympic basketball team, featuring Kentucky’s “Fabulous Five,” wins the gold medal by defeating France, 64-21, at Wembley Stadium in London.

March 8, 1949
Kentucky ends the year ranked No. 1 in the first season of the Associated Press basketball poll.

March 26, 1949
UK wins its second consecutive NCAA championship, defeating Oklahoma A&M, 46-36, in Seattle.

Dec. 1, 1950
UK plays its first game in the new, $3.9 million, 11,500-seat Memorial Coliseum. Skeptics label the building a “white elephant.”

March 27, 1951
UK wins its third NCAA title, defeating Kansas State, 68-58, in the finals in Minneapolis.

UK’s season is suspended by the NCAA.

Dec. 5, 1953
Cawood Ledford broadcasts his first game as the radio “Voice of the Wildcats.”

March 9, 1954
Kentucky beats LSU, 63-56, in an SEC playoff game to cap a perfect 25-0 season and finish with the nation’s No. 1 ranking.

Jan. 8, 1955
Fans are stunned as Georgia Tech defeats UK, 59-58, in Memorial Coliseum, ending a 129-game home winning streak that still stands as a national record.

Dec. 7, 1957
What was then referred to as “the longest game in UK history” proves fruitful for the Wildcats as they defeat Temple 85-83 in three overtimes. Vernon Hatton scores UK’s final six points to edge the Owls.

March 21, 1958
In the Wildcats’ first game in Freedom Hall Vernon Hatton’s layup with 17 seconds left pushes the Wildcats past Temple, 61-60, and into the NCAA Championship game.

March 22, 1958
UK wins its fourth NCAA title by defeating Seattle, 84-72, in Louisville. The “Fiddlin’ Five” was led by Vernon Hatton’s 30 points. The win gave Rupp his most coveted title, the one he vowed to win after the NCAA had suspended UK’s 1953 season.

March 19, 1966
In one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history, top-ranked UK, featuring “Rupp’s Runts,” loses in the NCAA Championship game, 72-65, to Texas Western.

Jan. 27, 1968
At the time, it was believed that Adolph Rupp became college basketball’s all-time winningest coach when the Wildcats overcame a record-setting 52-point performance by LSU’s Pete Maravich to defeat the Tigers, 121-95. Years later, it was discovered that he had achieved that feat on Feb. 18, 1967, with a 103-74 win over Mississippi State.

Jan. 18, 1969
On the road against its long-time rival, UK became the first team in college basketball history to win 1,000 games, defeating Tennessee, 69-66.

June 9, 1969
Tom Payne, a seven-foot All-American from Louisville, becomes the first black player to sign with the University of Kentucky.

Feb. 28, 1970
Dan Issel becomes UK’s first player to score 2,000 career points as UK defeats Vanderbilt, 90-86.

March 14, 1970
Dan Issel scores his 2,138th point, etching his name into the record book as UK’s all-time leading scorer. The top-ranked Wildcats are upset by Jacksonville, 106-100, in the NCAA Tournament.

March 18, 1972
Adolph Rupp coaches his last game at UK, a 73-54 loss to Florida State in the NCAA Tournament.

Dec. 2, 1972
Joe B. Hall coaches his first game as head coach at UK, a 75-66 win at Michigan State. UK goes on to win the SEC Championship and finish 22-8 during Hall’s inaugural season.

March 22, 1975
UK upsets undefeated Indiana in the Mideast Regional semifinals to earn a trip to the Final Four. Before the title game with UCLA, legendary coach John Wooden announces his retirement. The Bruins go on to defeat UK, 92-85, on March 31.

March 8, 1976
Jack Givens keys a late rally as UK outlasts Mississippi State, 94-93 in overtime, in the last game played at Memorial Coliseum.

March 21, 1976
UK wins its second NIT Championship by defeating North Carolina-Charlotte, 71-67 in New York.

Nov. 27, 1976
UK defeats Wisconsin, 72-64, in the new, 23,000-seat, $53 million Rupp Arena. Rick Robey scores the first goal in Rupp with 19:30 left to play in the first half.

Dec. 10, 1977
As top-ranked UK is defeating Kansas on “Adolph Rupp Night” in Allen Field House on Naismith Drive in Lawrence, Kansas, Rupp dies. Thousands would participate in the funeral procession in Lexington.

March 27, 1978
Jack “Goose” Givens scores 41 points as UK wins its fifth NCAA Championship, 94-88, over Duke in St. Louis. More than 10,000 fans greet the team at Blue Grass Airport and 15,000 more celebrate at Memorial Coliseum

March 26, 1983
In the first meeting between the schools in 24 years, Louisville defeats UK 80-68 in overtime to earn a trip to the Final Four.

March 31, 1984
Georgetown outscores UK 23-2 at the start of the second half to defeat the Wildcats, 53-40, in the NCAA semifinal game in Seattle.

March 22, 1985
Joe B. Hall announces his retirement after UK loses to St. John’s, 86-70, in the NCAA West Regional in Denver.

Nov. 22, 1985
Eddie Sutton coaches his first game at Kentucky, a 77-58 win over Northwestern (La.) State.

Dec. 29, 1986
Following the Wildcats’ 85-51 win at Louisville on Dec. 27, more than 19,000 fans filled Freedom Hall for a Kentucky practice to usher in the era of school-boy legend Rex Chapman.

March 10, 1989
Kentucky finishes the year with a 13-19 record, its first losing mark in 61 seasons.

March 19, 1989
In the wake of an NCAA investigation, Eddie Sutton resigns as UK basketball coach.

May 19, 1989
The NCAA places Kentucky’s basketball program on probation.

June 2, 1989
Rick Pitino is named head basketball coach at Kentucky.

June, 1990
Rick Pitino makes history by naming Bernadette Locke, a former assistant for the Georgia Lady Bulldogs basketball team, to his coaching staff at Kentucky.

March 2, 1991
Before a crowd of 24,310 at Rupp Arena, Kentucky defeats Auburn, 114-93, to claim the best record in the Southeastern Conference and end its two-year probation.

March 15, 1992
Eligible for postseason play for the first time in three years, Kentucky dominates Alabama, 80-54, to take its 16th SEC Tournament Championship.

March 28, 1992
In what many called the “best NCAA Tournament game ever,” Kentucky takes defending NCAA champion Duke into overtime before losing 104-103 in the East Regional finals in Philadelphia. A last-second shot by Christian Laettner sends Duke to the Final Four, and breaks the hearts of Wildcat fans everywhere. It is Cawood Ledford’s last game as the “Voice of the Wildcats.”

April 3, 1993
Kentucky faces Michigan in the NCAA semifinals, marking UK’s 10th Final Four appearance. An 81-78 overtime loss to the Wolverines ended Kentucky’s season at 30-4 and marked All-American Jamal Mashburn’s last game in UK blue.

Feb. 15, 1994
Trailing by 31 points with 15:34 remaining in the game at LSU, the Wildcats pull off a Mardi Gras miracle. Connecting on 11 three-pointers and outscoring the Bayou Bengals 62-27 during the final 15:34, UK storms back to a 99-95 victory – the greatest comeback in UK history.

March 2, 1996
With a 101-63 victory over Vanderbilt in Rupp Arena on Senior Day, UK became the first team in 40 years to finish with a perfect record in the SEC, a 16-0 sweep. It was the Wildcats’ 25th win in a row, tying the school record for consecutive wins in a season. Two games later, they set the new record at 27 games.

April 1, 1996
After avenging an early season loss to UMass with a win in the NCAA semifinals two days before, UK squashes a late Syracuse rally to win its sixth national title, 76-67.

May 20, 1996
The championship squad makes an official visit to the White House at the invitation of President Clinton. Tony Delk and Mark Pope present President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore with UK jerseys.

March 31, 1997
Despite losing its star, Derek Anderson, to a knee injury on Jan. 18, UK returns to defend its NCAA title in the National Championship game, falling in overtime to Arizona, 84-79. It would be the final game with Rick Pitino as coach.

May 6, 1997
Rick Pitino announces his resignation at Kentucky to take the challenge of rebuilding the NBA’s most storied franchise, the Boston Celtics.

May 12, 1997
UK’s director of athletics, C.M. Newton, introduced Orlando “Tubby” Smith as head coach.

Nov. 20, 1997
It was the dawning of an era as new head coaches Tubby Smith and Morehead State’s Kyle Macy tipped off the season in Rupp Arena. Smith won his first game at UK, 88-49, over the former UK All-American and his Eagles.

March 22, 1998
In one of the most anticipated matchups of the NCAA Tournament, UK roars back from a 17-point deficit with 9:38 remaining to defeat Duke, 86-84. The victory buried the nightmare of UK-Duke ’92 and advanced the Wildcats to their third straight Final Four.

March 30, 1998
The “Comeback Cats” rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat Utah, 78-69, winning UK’s second national title in three years, its seventh overall.

Sept. 5, 2001
After a long illness, Cawood Ledford dies at his home in Harlan. A planned tribute at Rupp Arena was canceled following the “9/11” terrorists attacks.

Dec. 8, 2001
Kentucky beats North Carolina for the Cats’ 1,800th victory, the first college basketball team to reach that milestone.

March 16, 2003
After running the table in regular-season Southeastern Conference play, Kentucky defeats Mississippi State, 64-57, in the finals of the SEC Tournament to secure its 24th league tourney crown and complete a 19-0 season sweep of conference opponents. It marked the first time the feat had been accomplished in 51 seasons.

April 6, 2007
Billy Gillispie is named Kentucky’s new head basketball coach. He is introduced to a crowd of more than 4,000 fans at a pep rally announcing his hiring. Gillispie replaced Tubby Smith, who left after 10 seasons at the helm of Kentucky basketball to become the head coach at Minnesota.

March 31, 2008
Long time Kentucky basketball manager Bill Keightley passed away at the age of 81 in Cincinnati. Affectionately known as “Mr. Wildcat”, he had been associated with the Wildcats’ basketball program since 1962. Keightley, who manned the “Bill Keightley Equipment Room” in Memorial Coliseum, was as much a fixture around UK basketball as the seven national championship trophies on display in the Joe Craft Center. A crowd of over 3,000 payed their respects at a tribute to Mr. Keightley held in Rupp Arena. Former players, coaches and managers traveled from across the country to eulogize him.

March 27, 2009
Billy Gillispie fired as the Kentucky head basketball coach.

April 1, 2009
John Calipari is named Kentucky’s new head basketball coach.

December 21, 2009
Kentucky becomes the first team in college basketball history to record 2,000 wins.

June 24, 2010
Kentucky made history again when the Wildcats had five players drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft. John Wall became the  first Wildcat ever named the overall No. 1 pick when he was selected by the Washington Wizards.  DeMarcus Cousins was selected fifth by the Sacramento Kings, Patrick Patterson went 14th to the Houston Rockets, Eric Bledsoe went 18th to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Daniel Orton was picked 29th by the Orlando Magic.

April 2, 2011
Kentucky made its 14th Final Four appearance in school history. The Wildcats faced Connecticut in the semifinal matchup, falling 55-56 to the eventual 2011 NCAA Champion.

November 11, 2011
Kentucky defeats Marist 108-58 in the season opener to secure the 34th consecutive win in Rupp Arena under John Calipari, setting a new record for consecutive wins in the building.

March 4, 2012
Kentucky closed out the 2011-12 season with a 74-59 win at Florida capping a perfect 16-0 run through the SEC. It marked the third time a UK team went 16-0 in league play and the first time since the 2003 squad turned the trick.

April 2, 2012
The Wildcats brought home the school’s eighth national championship after posting a 67-59 win over the Kansas Jayhawks in the title game. Kentucky took a 9-7 lead at the 15:40 mark of the first half on a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist dunk and never trailed for the rest of the game, even pushing its lead to as much as 18 late in the first half. Doron Lamb led all scorers on 7-of-12 shooting from the field, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. National Player of the Year Anthony Davis tallied only six points, but he earned Final Four Most Outstanding after pulling down 16 rebounds, blocking six shots and dishing out a game-high five assists. The Wildcats held the Jayhawks to 35.5 percent from the field, while outrebounding KU 43-35.

June 28, 2012
The Wildcats set an NBA Draft record with six players picked in the 2012 NBA Draft. Anthony Davis becomes the second UK player to be picked No. 1 overall and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist goes No. 2 overall, becoming the first teammates in NBA Draft history to go 1-2 in the same draft.

April 7, 2014
Kentucky sparks an exciting run to the national championship game with five freshman starters. UK, playing as an eight seed, knocks off four straight top-five seeds all by five points or less to become the first team to win five games in an NCAA Tournament by such a small margin. Freshman sharpshooter Aaron Harrison hits the game-winning 3-pointer in successive victories over Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin in the final minute of play of each contest. UK eventually loses to UConn in the title game by a 60-54 score.

March 7, 2015
Playing under a two-platoon system for most of the year, the Wildcats complete the regular season 31-0 with a victory over Florida, becoming the first team from a “power five” conference to go undefeated in the regular season since Indiana did it in 1976. UK completes the SEC season with an 18-0 record and goes on to win the SEC Tournament championship, its 28th title. The Wildcats eventually post a 38-0 record to reach the Final Four, the first team in college basketball history to record such a record, before losing to Wisconsin in the national semifinals.

June 25, 2015
Continuing a record-setting recent run of draft picks, six more Wildcats are selected in the 2015 NBA Draft, tying UK’s own 2012 record mark.  Karl-Anthony Towns becomes the third UK player in program history to go No. 1, and an NBA-record-tying four Wildcats are taken in the lottery.

March 24, 2017
In a highly anticipated matchup with UCLA, which beat the Wildcats in the regular season in Rupp Arena, freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox scores an NCAA Tournament freshman record 39 points to propel UK to the Elite Eight.

February 23, 2019
With an 80-53 victory over Auburn, 10th-year head coach John Calipari moves past Joe B. Hall for the second most victories by a UK head coach in program history. He trails only the Baron of the Bluegrass, Adolph Rupp.

April 9, 2024

At 2:14 pm EST, John Calipari posted a video to X\Twitter confirming he’s exploring other options and says Goodbye to the Big Blue Nation.  Shortly thereafter, UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart released a statement confirming the same and that a search for a new coach had begun.

April 12, 2024

Mark Pope, a captain of the University of Kentucky’s 1996 National Championship team, returned to Lexington as the 23rd head coach of Kentucky’s storied men’s basketball program.