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Greatest UK Player Ever Tournament: John Pelphrey v. Jim Master


Well the first game of the Greatest UK Player Tournament Ever was not exactly a close one. In a result that surprised absolutely no one, Dan Issel overpowered Jeff Brassow in a matchup that was somewhat scripted from the beginning. All four voters and the fans picked Issel, letting the school’s all time leading scorer coast into the Second Round. The “Horse” was simply too strong offensively, dominating the glass, scoring at will and keeping Jeff Brassow from getting any type of run against him. In the end, Issel showed a little of his old school meets new school ways by hitting a running bank shot at the buzzer while screaming out, “State Farm says Victory!” Brassow, ever the statesman, shook his hand having lost to the better man and then went outside to meet seven gorgeous women ready to spend the evening with him. Win or lose, it aint bad being Brassow.

So now we get to the Adolph Rupp Region’s 8 vs 9 matchup…..a classic battle that has all the makings of a whopper. John Pelphrey vs Jim Master in a battle of two gritty, hard-nosed players that are often remembered by UK fans as being special to the eras in which they participated. Pelphrey, now the coach of the Hogs down in Arkansas, is often remembered for his tearful interview at the end of the 1992 Duke game and Jim Master is said to have one of the better jumpers in UK history. Thus both men will be ready for a matchup for the ages.


John Pelphrey:

What can you say about a guy whose significance on the UK program is so important that he is part of a group called “The Unforgettables.” John Pelphrey came from Paintsville to Lexington and found himself at the center of the transition of a program from its darkest to its brightest years. He came in under Eddie Sutton and redshirted, only to have a Freshmen season where he only scored 38 points. But the arrival of Rick Pitino showcased the arrival of John Pelphrey as he finished his next three seasons as one of the key contributors to teams that continually overachieved. He was First Team All-SEC his Junior season and scored 26 or more points on four occasions, including a career high 29 against Ole Miss. His senior season saw more deference to Jamal Mashburn, but great team success as he helped one of the more special teams in UK history play in the greatest college basketball game of all time. Pelphrey has his jersey retired and is the 29th leading scorer in UK history….and oh yeah, we forgive him for his time at Florida….sort of.


Jim Master:

Ask anyone whose formative Kentucky years were in the early 80s who the greatest UK shooter of his lifetime is and you may get the name Jim Master. Master was Mr. Basketball for the state of Indiana and spurned the hometown Hoosiers to come to UK as a Parade All American. He joined the team in 1980 and played through a Final Four year in 1984 on a great team with Sam Bowie, Kenny Walker, Mel Turpin and others. Master was a great outside shooter right before those shooters became uber-valuable with the addition of the three point line (which would have greatly increased his 28 overall scoring position). He could spot up from anywhere and drain the long ball, which led to his Sophomore and Junior season Third Team All-SEC honors. Master is 28th all time in scoring, 29th all time in assists and 4th all time in free throw shooting. A pure stroker, Master might win the All time UK three point contest when one is held on legends night in the UK afterlife.

So there you go. Who you got? Use the comments to make your pick, but also tell your favorite Master and Pelphrey memories……lets hear em…..results tomorrow.

Article written by Matt Jones