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Decadence:Ten greatest moments in UK sports

I’m not an overly list-y person, which would explain my failure at grocery and lack of goals, but I couldn’t let this decade sidle on by without concocting some sort of reflective ensemble. Like everyone else reading and writing on this blog, my mood is heavily dependent on the fortunes of UK athletics…well, football and basketball anyway. Looking back at the past decade here in BBN I’m met with plenty of heartache and of course, plenty of bliss, so rather than harp on the negatives which is typically my bread n’ butter, here is my list of the 10 greatest moments in UK sports of the decade. They are ordered chronologically, so keep that in mind as you trumpet your feelings in the comments.

Tayshaun for 3 3 3 3 3

Many claim it’s the loudest moment in Rupp history. It also gave us the immortal “He’s got the puppies set off the bus” Raftery-ism that remains as fitting as it is mystifying. It’s also probably the most watched UK related YouTube clip of the decade this side of a John Wall mixtape. My favorite part is the look on Prince’s face after trey #2, as if to say, “I’m about to reel off a few more of these and blow your mind.” For a fan base that reveres 3-pointers more than their own children, you couldn’t script a better moment than this.

Benedict Rick

Special for the obvious: UK pasted the Cards 82-62 in Pitino’s first trip to Rupp since taking the Louisville demotion, and equally satisfying for the veracity of over-the-top hatred spewed by jilted UK fans. Pitino knew he’d alienate a good portion of the state by taking the gig, but you know his narcissistic self thought his unprecedented run in Lexington had earned him a lifetime pass ’round these parts. Uh-uh. We hate you too, Joanne (though we kind of feel sorry for you now).

Memorial Magic

Still reeling from the drubbing at the hands of Pitino and an outclassed Louisville team, the Cats were in a familiar position: struggling in Memorial Gym against a pesky Vandy team and seemingly veiled in a lifeless haze of TubbyBall purgatory, trailing by 12 at the half. Then, something happened…what exactly, we may never know. Maybe Tubby Incredible Hulked his French cuff or bit the head off a bat, but something just snapped at the intermission and catapulted one of the best runs in school history. Kentucky would go on to win the second half 46-16, displaying defensive intensity that would make Nick Saban erect, then ran roughshod over the SEC, becoming the first and only team in school history to sweep the SEC regular season and conference tourney. Of course, we didn’t know what was to come at the time, but in those 20 minutes you could see this team’s newfound thirst for blood.

#1 Florida comes to Rupp
“It’s embarrassment time! It’s humiliation! Where’s the pride in Billy Donovan?!”

Any time an SEC team not named Kentucky shoots up the rankings you know it’s going to be a short-lived run. No matter how the AP Poll reads that day, you can never really call a UK win at Rupp an upset. But this was not just your garden variety defense of Rupp Arena, this was an absolute annihilation in which we bloodied the face of the #1 Gators, stole their lunch money, fooled around with their sister then made them smell our fingers. Truly one of the most “we’re Kentucky and you’re not” moments in my lifetime.

Sparks keeps hope alive

Yes, it merely extended the inevitable heartbreak in this NCAA regional final, but for that moment where the ball took a Teen Wolf-esque tour around seemingly every inch of the rim and fell through at the buzzer the ghost of Christian Laettner had finally been stifled. I was a student living right around the block from Euclid and Woodland at the time, prepared to finally take my act to the streets as UK locked down another another final 4. Aside from the sheer improbability of that shot going in, and the foul that should have been called, the “take that, mother f-er,” exchange with Billy Packer will keep this moment enshrined despite the outcome.

Kentucky enters the top 10…in Football

I remember tearing through my SI College Football preview mag in 1997 and seeing the Tim Couch-led Wildcats with a foreign object parked next to their name. It was a preseason top 25 ranking—#25 to be exact—which at the time was the zenith of success for this adolescent nurtured in the Curry era. So when UK crashed the top 10 not oncebut twice in 2007, it was a precious, hard-earned memento in the face of all too familiar futility. It was a feat that broke down the barriers of the impossible in which pigs were given to fly and Kentucky fans savored a plate of what our SEC brethren have been raving about for decades: life as a football school.

Kentucky beats #1 LSU

We knew this UK football team had the offensive firepower to hang with anyone. Just weeks prior we saw Stevie get loose and the then top 10 Louisville Cardinals see their dream of another BCS run go away never to return again. But nothing could prepare us for that fateful autumn afternoon when #1 and seemingly unstoppable LSU came to town and left in shambles. There were no fluke plays, nor a smorgasbord of home-cooked calls, rather an equal match of skill and strength and a feat that remained impossible until that final stuff on 4th down in triple OT. Kentucky simply does not beat the kingpins of the SEC, let alone the eventual national champs. It brought respect, a top 10 ranking and apt redemption for one of the decade’s most heart-crushing moments, the Bluegrass Miracle.

Mr. Wildcat Reunites the Fam

Bill Keightley was a statesman. Seasons changed, players changed, coaches changed, rules changed, uniforms changed, arenas changed, but not Mr. Wildcat. In addition to being a great human, Keightley was the last remaining link connecting every era in the modern history of the most storied program in all of college basketball. So beloved was he, that two days after his passing a memorial service was held in where else but Rupp Arena where fans and colleagues past and present gathered to celebrate the man who symbolized the greatness of UK basketball. An apt tribute indeed, and a welcome reminder that competition is no match for compassion.

Jodie Meeks goes for 54

Funny how one of the most tumultuous seasons in UK history could produce something this magical. Jodie’s career in blue was certainly as trying as it was spectacular, but his performance in the 2008-09 season is one of the best in the school’s history and this game in particular on Tennessee’s home floor cemented his legend for the rest of eternity. 10-15 from 3, 14 for 14 from the line, and 8 boards and 4 assists just for the hell of it.”We’re not the University of Jodie Meeks,” as the coach needlessly and gruffly stated after the game, but on that night, as with most of his nights spent in Lexington, ol’ Billy was wrong.


UK hires John Calipari

It’s always easy to superfluously shower a coach with praise when they’ve yet to lose a game, but after a decade of final 4 exclusion, mailed-in recruiting, the NIT and those kinds of things, the hotshot salesman with the truest sense of the job came like a rapture to a world of lost souls desperate for a sign. With it, we got the most transcendent talent to ever don the jersey (with more surely to come), a style of play more in line with the program’s blueprint, a coach who actually feeds off our overzealousness, and Kentucky Proud finally got a pitchman with zeal. Cal is certainly not a perfect coach, but he is the perfect coach for this program.

Honorable Mentions

2007: Stevie gets loose…2004: Sparks hits 3 FT’s to cap improbable comeback over the Cards…2003: Kentucky blasts Vandy by 62 points on Sr. Day…2004: Tubby inks Randolph Morris rounding out the nation’s top class…2006: UK beats Clemson in MCB for 1st Bowl win in decades…2001: Cawood’s Court…2005: Chuck Hayes gets emotional at senior day…2009: Sypher-Gate breaks…2007: senior day…2007: College Gameday comes to town…everything else I recklessly neglected

Article written by John Dubya

The Twitter: @Johnawilk

39 responses to “Decadence:Ten greatest moments in UK sports”

  1. RKA

    “fooled around with their sister then made them smell our fingers.”—-PRICELESS

  2. everestct
  3. everestct
  4. GoCats2

    The BasketBowl in Detroit with 79K fans was amazing. That Tayshaun moment is absolutely legendary and I still wish they would mark the floor in some way where that 5th three was launched from.
    I would also like to point out that Sparks was fouled on that 3 so he should have got a free throw after they ruled it a 3.

  5. Mattsbowlcut

    Twas the season John Wall came to Rupp’s house, Cat fans could sense an end to their championship drought.—-Banners were hung high up in the air, with hopes Coach Cal would soon hang an eighth there.—-The Big Blue Nation drifted nightly to bed, while visions of John Wall danced in their head.—-Big Cuz in his head-band standing next to P-Pat, dominates the lane as we yell, Go Wildcats!

  6. KYfaninIN

    I didn’t expect this to make the top ten, but at least get an honorable mention, what about the women’s basketball team knocking off the filthy Vols! Yes, I know, it’s women’s basketball, but c’mon it’s Pat Summitt and UT! That was a big moment. Much bigger than freakin Sypher-Gate!

  7. mocha

    I would make the argument that Stevie getting loose against the Filthy Cards should have been on this list….in place of what it’s hard to say
    but that game was the catalyst for the rest of the season, including the win against LSU.

  8. mocha

    ^^I know it was on the honorable mention list but I meant it should have been in the top 10 list…..seriously, you think Sypher Gate
    was a bigger moment in terms of affecting UK than Stevie getting loose and Tom Leach losing his mind………???

  9. WildCobb is my Hero

    The Tayshaun moment never gets old, still gives me chills every time!

  10. KentuckyHouse

    Check this out…Bobby Knight, speaking at a fundraiser for the Indiana Hall-of-Fame, takes a shot a Cal.

    Revisionist history at it’s best by a coach that was passed up by the game and was too stubborn and hard-headed to walk away when the writing was on the wall. Oh, and Bobby, I don’t really think a coach that abused his own players on national television has a lot of room to speak!

  11. drewg41

    I know I’ll be in the minority with this but the fact that the undersized Pitino’s Bombinos beating LSU at Rupp isn’t on this list is a huge mistake. Just my thoughts. Although we lost to Duke in 1992, we also showed the nation that we were back. I think the Unforgettables need to be on this list somewhere. I guess we don’t have any old timers who read or write on this website and that sucks.

    I always tell younger fans (who never got to experience a final four or championship), “just wait.” There will always be higher highs and lower lows. Nothing compares to the feeling of being national champions.

  12. drewg41

    ^Oh. It’s top ten moments of the decade. Okay…everyone let me have it. I deserve it.

  13. GoCats2

    11)Definitely some great moments you got there, however It is only the great moments of the last 10 years.

  14. mocha

    “Okay…everyone let me have it.” — that’s what she said.

  15. HoustonWildcat

    10. I had always supported Bobby Knight until today. Like you said how can a coach who has had so many incidents involving players and a school pass judgement on another coach? Calipari I am sure will not respond but he should say something. How can a coach who physically harms their players, throws chairs onto the court during play be elected into a hall of fame?

  16. blueman80

    15- Knight is a piece of shit….he is just mad he could never get recruits like cal did!! did he forget abt corey maggete at duke…he is a douche…cal should take a shot at him and shut his old ass down!!

  17. HoustonWildcat

    16. I keep thinking about this and it pisses me off even more. I mean really, Bobby Knight judging someone. If thats not the Pot calling the kettle black I don’t know what is. So many indiscretions in his past and he calls someone else out. He should really look into having some one proofread his speeches.

  18. blueman80

    17 – houstonwildcat – it pisses me off as well…he has some nerve calling cal out.considering the way he treated his players…i think its time for Cal to make a stmt and shut this ass clown!!

  19. Miller Time

    Thank you: Bob Knight for just entering my top 5 most hated list. Next time you visit Rupp for a game I will make it a point to piss you off you bastard!

  20. blueman80

    next time knights in rupp lets hold a sign for him…like Abuser!! ideas are officially welcome 🙂

  21. jwall4heisman

    #1 is tayshaun thats just unreal strokin 3’s like that..makes it even better it was again unc. Sparks hittin that 3 could be considered #1 if we would’ve won.. and beatin lsu in triple OT those are my top 3 UK moments

  22. mocha

    houstonwildcat you have enlightened me as well… ESPN has ran with the story putting up a link on their homepage.
    bobby knight is a classless ass clown that his players hated. the ones who said they respected him and that he made them tough are lying.
    what i don’t understand is how a fat, old, student-athlete manipulating, abusive, chair throwing, official cursing, jackass (aptly named
    “the general”) was still coaching all those years……
    oh yeah, and his commentary sucks too.

  23. mocha

    Hey, if any of you are looking for any last minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I’d like Bobby Knight, that pr*ck, right here tonight.
    I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there at ESPN with all the other idiots and I want him brought right here, with a big
    ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no good, rotter, four-flushing,
    low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, d**kless, hopeless, heartless,
    fat-a$$, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey sh%t he is! Hallelujah! Holy Sh%t! Where’s the Tylenol?

  24. weems

    I’m sorry guys, but Knight has physically abused college students, bullied reporters and referees who were doing their jobs, and acted like a petulant child for years and it takes a criticism of Coach Cal to suddenly make you dislike him?????

    Knight has ALWAYS been trash. Over the years, it has made me want to vomit to hear Kentucky fans praising him for “teaching discipline” when all he did was bully kids who were under his authority. Standing up for your beliefs doesn’t make you noble when your beliefs are shoddy and reprehensible.

    His hypocritical attack of Cal is certainly pathetic, but his chair throwing, vulgarity spewing, embarrassing behavior should have ALWAYS drawn our disgust.

  25. mocha

    24 agreed totally. I don’t think anyone was implying it took this incident to hate Knight, I too have ALWAYS hated him.
    makes me sick every time mike kroojawooski gets on TV and tells everyone what a great coach and mentor of young minds Bobby Knight is….

  26. blueman80

    coach kreshgshweselfsky…blew knight…thats why they love each other

  27. machine514
  28. idigl7220

    Great article. The 2003 game against florida is my favorite non 1998 comeback cat kentucky basketball game. I remember how good florida looked before coming into kentucky that year, and watching one of my favorite kentucky teams ever totally dismantle them was beautiful. “they’re feeling sorry for themselves, and you can’t feel sorry for yourself”. Imagine if Bogans hadn’t been injured and had gone toe to toe with Dwayne Wade. We would have won that tournament that year.

  29. Stickman

    Don’t let Knight upset you. Just remember that outside Indiana he is a laughingstock that no one takes seriously.

  30. SavannahCat

    16-0 SEC record needs to be on this list as does John Wall’s game at MSG.

  31. SavannahCat

    Bob Knight is the Clown Prince of college basketball with his chair throwing, press conf., and poor treatment of people. Calipari recruited bad people and got burned. Knight is just a bad person. Too bad you can’t go on probation for beating up your players.

  32. 7ukncaa

    1. Pitino getting a technical in Rupp. Single loudest moment in Rupp history IMO.
    2. Music City Bowl Victory – first in 20+ years

  33. BravoBigBlue

    I would add the football Wildcats 2006 come-from-behind victory over Georgia. The goalpost came down and it began our success which continues with 4 straight bowl games.

  34. kevin823

    One of the top moments has to be Tubby’s undefeated season in the SEC. Despite getting knocked off by UAB in the second round of march madness that yr, that team was great and they had an AWESOME SEC season.

  35. the ghost of Bill Hicks

    Who the heck is John Wilkersley and when did he start writing here?

  36. passwordplease

    I thought playing in Memorial Col last year was pretty cool; however, the fact it was a NIT game has to drop it out of the top 10…

  37. mooneylane

    Glad to see you put the 2003 Vandy game on there. It usually gets overshadowed by the Florida game, but I think it was more important.

    I would add the 28-2 run against UNC and the Jodie Meeks shot followed by the Nick Calathes free throws as at least honorable mentions.

  38. tmdavis

    I’m a fan of good writing and good humor, and Wilkersley has both. Hope to see more of this guy in the future.

  39. blockK

    Great moment in perhaps the lowest point of the decade – Last season’s NIT game in Memorial Coliseum.

    The game itself was pretty entertaining but it’s the fans and the atmosphere that should serve as a reminder of how passionate we are about the program and it’s history. It was amazing to sit in the rafters of that old building and watch the game and realizing that virtually every UK team over the past 50 plus years had pour out sweat and blood in the building in games and practice.
    But what it signaled more was the passion of the fans who not only live for the present, but who cherish our past. Fans didn’t come just to watch the team play UNLV, they came to experience history, to relive something special about UK basketball, and in some way, that sparked a renewed enthusiasm to bring us back to where we belong.
    I’d love to see UK play one game a year in that old gym. There’s something special about it!