1997-98 National Champions

Sitting: Assistant Coach Mike Sutton, Head Coach Orlando “Tubby” Smith, Saul Smith, Cameron Mills, Jeff Sheppard, Wayne Turner, Steve Masiello, Assistant Coach , Assistant Coach Shawn Finney Standing: Special Assistant Leon Smith, Administrative Assistant , Equipment Manager Bill Keightley, , Heshimu Evans, Scott Padgett, Nazr Mohammed, Jamaal Magloire, , Myron Anthony, Allen Edwards, Trainer Eddie Jamiel, Strength Coach Tom Boyd

NCAA Championship #7
KENTUCKY 78, 69
March 30,1998
San Antonio, TX

Season Recap

The team that became known as the “Comeback Cats,” the 1997-98 KentuckyWildcats captured their second NCAA title in three years after overcoming a 10-point halftime deficit against Utah in the national championship game. was 10-3 in games decided by 10 points or less and 7-1 in games decided by three points or less during the season.

Kentucky’s players provided a balanced attack, as all five starters averaged more than nine points per game with senior guard Jeff Sheppard averaging 13.7 points per game and junior center Nazr Mohammed averaging 12.0 points per game. The Wildcats rolled to an 86-56 victory over in the SEC Tournament final and then sprinted past South Carolina State, St. Louis and in the first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Championship Game

Facing a double-digit second half deficit for the third game in a row, Kentucky scratched back to defeat Utah 78-69 and win the NCAA title. It was the second national title in the last three years for UK and the seventh overall. Jeff Sheppard was named Most Outstanding Player, tallying 43 points in two games in San Antonio. Sheppard had 16 points and had two key baskets in Kentucky’s second-half comeback. Heshimu Evans, a junior forward, made two 3-pointers and a driving layup when Kentucky was down early in the second half, then blocked Andre Miller’s 3-point shot with 44.2 seconds left and Kentucky ahead 70-66, a shot that really was Utah’s last chance. Title-game experience may have made a difference too. Kentucky had been in the championship game the past three years, but Utah (30-4) was playing its first since 1944. Utah, which had held opponents to 38 percent shooting in the tournament, saw Kentucky shoot 51 percent. Kentucky’s 78 points were the most scored on Utah this season. Scott Padgett led Kentucky with 17 points, and Sheppard, who was redshirted last season, had 16. Miller led Utah with 16, and Hanno Mottola and Michael Doleac each had 15.

Boxscore

KENTUCKY

PLAYER      FG    FT   R  A  PF  TP
Edwards    2-7   0-0   1  5   0   4
Padgett   6-11   4-4   5  1   4  17
Mohammed   5-9   0-0   2  0   4  10
Turner     2-5   2-4   2  4   0   6
Sheppard  7-14   2-2   4  3   1  16
Magloire   2-3   3-3   2  1   4   7
Evans      3-4   2-2   6  0   1  10
Mills      2-4   2-2   0  1   0   8
Smith      0-0   0-0   0  0   0   0
Bradley    0-0   0-0   1  0   1   0

TOTALS   29-57 15-17  23 15  15  78

UTAH

PLAYER     FG    FT    R  A  PF  TP
Mottola  4-10   6-6    8  0   4  15
Jensen    5-6   3-3    2  2   2  14
Doleac   5-12   4-6   10  1   2  15
Miller   6-15   4-7    6  5   5  16
Hansen    1-6   0-0    5  1   2   2
Johnsen   3-4   0-0    4  0   0   7
Mctavish  0-0   0-0    0  2   1   0
Jackson   0-1   0-0    0  1   2   0
Caton     0-1   0-0    0  0   0   0

TOTALS  24-55 17-22   35 12  18  69

HALFTIME:
Utah 41, UK 31

Most Outstanding Player: Jeff Sheppard – 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting

 


1998 NCAA Tournament Bracket