February 15, 1994: UK 99, LSU 95
UK fans knows this as one of the best comebacks, if not THE best comeback, in NCAA history. But what’s most memorable about this game to me is the fact that I missed it, and missed a local boy making good. And while that has stuck in my craw for going on 15 seasons now, it has also changed the way I have watched sports, especially our boys in blue, since then.
First, let’s backtrack a bit. This UK squad had been a top-10 team the entire season, and came into the month of February ranked 7th in the nation. After defeating Alabama and then-#11 UMass, the Cats climbed back up to #4, but two straight losses — albeit to two very good teams (#3 Arkansas and #14 Syracuse) — had the team reeling.
Which brings us to Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday, with the Cats on the road in nearby Baton Rouge. Despite the two losses, the team was a very respectable 18-5. However, a third straight defeat, especially to an unranked LSU squad, would send the team out of the top 10.
Dale Brown’s homestanding Tigers started out hot and stayed that way for the entire first half, behind the shooting skills of sophomore Ronnie Henderson and 12th-year senior Clarance Ceasar (I swear, that guy was 36 years old when he finally used up his eligibility).
So to reiterate, the combination of two straight losses, a lackadaisical first half and, as sad as it is to say, it being a school night, made a 48-32 halftime deficit signal beddy-bye time for yours truly.
If this was a movie, and Norman Dale was coaching Jimmy, Buddy and the rest of the guys, UK would’ve gotten that cliched halftime speech, stormed out of the locker room and got right back into things.
Instead, as the crappy ESPN Super Tuesday graphics implored, it was Geaux Tigers Geaux. (Which was cemented by Brad Nessler and Larry Conley wearing their gimmicky Mardi Gras beads, goofy hats and no doubt, manboobs.) An 18-0 run early the second half pushed the Bayou Bengals all the way out to a 31-point lead at 68-37.
So the Cats started looking high and low for any kind of firepower. Starters Rodrick Rhodes, Jared Prickett and Andre Riddick spent more time on the pine than Ollie with his granny-style free throws. Instead, reserves Gimel Martinez, Jeff Brassow and Walter McCarty were in.
It got to the point that Ricky P. looked past the waterboy to the end of the bench. Enter in Tollesboro’s finest, junior guard Chris Harrison.
For those of you not in the know (probably 90% of KSR readers), Tollesboro is a small town in Lewis County, in northeast KY, population 3,200. The school that produced Harrison isn’t even around anymore. In hikeschool, Harrison amassed a whopping 3,542 career points and committed to the Cats as a junior. You know, back before we accepted verbals from my wife’s kindergartners.
Unfortunately, Harrison was a slow, defensively-challenged collegian that rarely saw the floor unless the Cats were way up or way down. And though he only played seven minutes in this game, he made the most of it.
(Cue old-school Batman montage)
BIFF!~! He slipped in behind the LSU defense and got a quick layin that the ESPN cameramen even missed, off the inbounds pass from Rhodes …
Two minutes later, ZING!~! A straight away three …
Then, another minute and half later, KA-POW!~! Another bomb from the top of the key.
If anything, the small-town boy helped light the spark. All told, in the next 8:05, the Cats made seven more three-pointers.
And then, the shot we all know and love, McCarty’s three from the corner, right in front of the UK bench. Punctuated with his fantastic lankiness and chest-pounding primal scream.
So to wrap ‘er up, I have not since quit on a UK squad. Yeah, not even during last year’s traveshamockery. All because of these comeback Cats on Fat Tuesday when a group of misfit subs, one from the awesomeness that is Tollesboro, saw fit to not quit while I was catching Z’s.
Beisner’s Take: This is another one that I really enjoyed. I’m curious to see what other people have to say about it. It did start out a bit slow and, even though it kicked off with an old school Batman graphic (good work), it didn’t get wacky or zany. And that’s not a bad thing. I thought you found a unique and personal twist to a story and highlights we’ve seen thousands of times and it was entertaining. I like your casual writing style and, though I have a million things going on around me right now, I didn’t have trouble concentrating. For a blog that survives by lowering the average worker’s productivity, that’s also a good thing. I liked it.