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My 5 favorite Kentucky in person sports moments of all time 

(That’s me, second to the right.)

Everyone has their own special Kentucky memory from being in a sold-out Kroger Field or Rupp Arena. Some of us have even seen the Cats raise a trophy in early April as the king of college basketball or win a big-time bowl game. Most of these memories we cherish have lasted us a lifetime. They are stories we will or already have told our kids. Its what makes us fans that are drawn to be apart of the Big Blue Nation. While it’s still offseason time, why not talk about my five favorite memories as a fan of being inside of a stadium watching the Cats play.

5.) Stevie GOT LOOSE:

Number 5 on my list has to be from that 2007 football season, right? This one was not just special because of the upset, but special because I was there in attendance with my dad. To me, going to watch the Cats play with my dad is just special. It’s even more special when they pull off an upset over their arch-rival. Growing up, Kentucky football has always held a huge place in my heart. It’s the first UK sport I had ever seen live. I grew up watching JLo sling that thing around against the Hoosiers.

Anyway, at the time I was in the fifth grade, and, for my birthday, my mom had bought me Kentucky/Louisville football tickets. This was by far the biggest Kentucky football game I had ever attended.

As soon as my dad and I touched down in the parking lot, you could just feel the energy. You got the vibe that this game was going to be awesome from start to finish. Now, back in those days, I was the one that wanted to be in my seat the moment the gates opened – which could be anywhere from two to three hours before kickoff. Now that I am a bit older, I definitely see why my dad wanted to partake in the tailgate festivities a little longer.

When the game started you could tell that the energy from the parking lot had easily made its way into Commonwealth Stadium. The game was back and forth. In the fourth quarter with 39 seconds to play in the game and UofL up 34-33, Andre Woodson dropped back to pass on the Cats’ own 35-yard line hitting Stevie Johnson down the sidelines.  We all remember that well – giving the Cats the go-ahead lead that would win them the game, 40-34.

Being a little fifth grader watching Kentucky take down No. 9 Louisville for the first time in 4 years with my dad, on essentially a game-winning TD, was one of the more special memories I’ve ever had as a Wildcat fan.

4.) Beating the Cards in March:

The 2013-14 Kentucky basketball season occurred during my junior year of high school. During spring break, my friend and I decided to get tickets to the Midwest Regional in Indianapolis before the brackets had even come out. Why you might ask? Well, because just like you, as I do love my Cats, I also enjoy the game of college basketball. So 93 bucks for two Sweet 16 games and an Elite 8 game as a 17-year-old sounded tremendous.

At the time, I must admit I was bummed out that I would be spending my week of vacation in Indiana (because who wouldn’t be??), but little did I know at that time the Cats would magically end up in the midwest region and pull off an upset over a 34-0 team in Wichita State.  Yeah, you know the story. The dang thing happened. Not only was I going to get to watch Kentucky play in the Sweet 16, but was also watching them play Louisville, which, at the time, I had never seen in person before.

So here it was, Kentucky came out of the gate sloppy. Louisville came out absolutely dominating the game. Everything was going their way. At the time I thought my luck and the Cats’ luck had run out.  At one point, Kentucky trailed by 13 and lost Willie Cauley-Stein. As some of you readers may already know, I wasn’t quite optimistic with that Kentucky team. Like you, I had been let down by this team time after time during the season. I also didn’t really know if I should believe the tweak had actually worked or not.

Boy, was I wrong, and then some. Kentucky would make their largest comeback of the season. In the second half of the first half, the Cats clawed their way back into it. Trailing by only 3 at the half, it would set up the second half to be a nail bitter.  Aaron Harrison hit a corner three with 40 seconds left, to give the Cats the lead for the rest of the game! This memory ranks at number 4, because of how unexpected the whole situation was.  Oh yeah, and the best part about it was throwing my L’s down as a 17-year-old to all of the grown Louisville fans!

3.) Beating Penn State in the Citrus Bowl:

After beating Florida in the same season, I didn’t think it was quite possible to have the same gratifying feeling I had felt that day in Gainesville. Beating Penn State, however, a once upon a time blue blood powerhouse in a New Year’s Day bowl game, was right up there in terms of awesomeness. Watching Penn State fans think it was such a joke to be in the Citrus Bowl against Kentucky was funny. To add to the humor, the Cats came out swinging, just absolutely punching them in the mouths from the start. We also got to watch Benny Snell break the UK all-time rushing record. Just about every time he carried the ball, everyone was looking around asking each other, “How many more does he need??”.

Then there was the 4th quarter Penn State comeback.  Along with other Kentucky fans, I found myself out in the concourse area, pacing. I was thinking to myself “it’s too good to be true” but then ultimately watched as the Cats finished off the Nittany Lions in the final minutes. This was the last nail in the coffin on an amazing season. The Cats had their first 10 win season in over four decades, and I was a part of it as a fan in the stands.

2.) The shot that beat Michigan:

Continuing on to my second favorite memory would have to be the Aaron Harrison shot against Michigan – the shot that would start a trend for him. Now, you may ask, “Dude how is this not number 1 for you?”. Well, I promise, just keep reading and I will explain myself.

Just like the game prior to this one, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the fact that I was watching Kentucky play in the tournament for the price I paid, and for the pure luck of the bracket arrangement. I was getting to see the Cats play for a chance to head to Dallas for a Final Four. And, to add to it, the game was way more than I could have ever expected. It was back and forth the whole time.

With 10 seconds left, the game was tied at 72 apiece. I thought to myself, “Am I really going to kick the bucket this young?”. My heart couldn’t take much more. And then, BAM.  Andrew Harrison handed off to his brother, Aaron, for the trey in Caris Levert’s face, with three seconds to play which would put the Cats up by 3.  And, yes, I think we all know the ending to this story, Nik Stauskas would miss a half-court buzzer-beater which would send the Cats marching onto the Final Four.

I remember my friend picking me up and for a second my mind went blank. We stayed up in the Lucas Oil Stadium rafters until they kicked us out. I had been to Rupp Arena many times and had even seen Kentucky play in the tournament against Cincinnati in the RCA Dome in 2005 with Rajon Rondo. But not even a trip to Rupp could touch that feeling I had in Indianapolis.

1.) Beating Florida to break a 31-year streak:

For the longest time, my No.1 favorite in-person memory in UK lore was watching Aaron Harrison hit that shot against Michigan that shocked the world on that March afternoon. I simply didn’t think it could be matched, but this one September night, on a hot late summer day in Florida, would change that for me. My all-time favorite in-person memory as a Cats fan is now, without a doubt, the day the Cats took down the Florida Gators. This was the day the Cats broke the streak for the first time in over 31 years. Not only did we end the streak, but we did it in Gainesville, and being there myself made it all the better.

Even though it was just a regular-season game, it felt like so much had been lifted off the program’s shoulders. It felt like, as a fan, I could finally breathe some fresh air. It felt like we could finally be the program we had dreamed about being, with Mark Stoops at the helm. It was such a gratifying moment being there, that it brought tears to my eyes. As I exited the Swamp, Florida fans stared at us Kentucky fans as we jumped in the air and hugged each other with joy.

These are UK memories that I will surely never forget. Now I want to hear it from you the reader. Either in the comments section or on my Twitter page, tell me either your top 5, top 3, or just favorite memory from being a fan in the stands.

And always, GO CATS!!!!

Article written by Alex Holder

14 Comments for My 5 favorite Kentucky in person sports moments of all time 

  1. Ridge Runner
    10:24 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    All great big blue moments, Alex!

    In fact, I salute you because Im a lot older than you and couldn’t match that list “in person”. Yes, our memories no one can take away.

    • Gunther Benke
      4:52 pm July 20, 2019 Permalink

      UK 24 – #3 Penn State 20
      Drove w 3 college buddies in SE Penn to see Cats take down JoePa team loaded w NFL talent – Jimmy Cefalo, Chuck Fusina, Matt Millen, Bruce Clark etc. Cats down 24-10 at half, throw 2nd half shutout for 24-20 win. Art Still playing both ways, TE on offense in double tight set w full house backfield. Great day to be a Cat fan away from home.

  2. bigblue98
    10:32 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    In person for all of these
    #5 Beat LSU 2007 football
    #4 Stevie got loose
    #3 Louisville 2012 Final Four
    #2 Citrus Bowl Penn St
    #1 Kansas 2012 championship

    Thankful to be able to attend these with family and friends. Wouldn’t trade the experiences for any amount of money.

    • Ridge Runner
      10:41 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

      Awesome, be honest… did you ever go to sleep the night we won the championship over KU? Haaaa

    • bigblue98
      5:56 am July 20, 2019 Permalink

      Did about 3am but man was it hard. Only reason was had to drive back home to be at work on Wednesday. Was really cool though driving back and seeing all the cats fans. Also, had never heard of finebaum before and listened to him through Alabama.

  3. J. Did
    11:39 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

    Mine was the year 1978 when KENTUCKY beat DUKE for the championship. Goose was Golden; Macy was cash money point guard and free throw shooter – ball control extraordinaire; Phillips and Robey ruled underneath. I am sure I’m leaving out other great contributions. Truman Claytor…Apologies. It was a defining time in my life and that sealed the deal. BTW, oddly enough, Al Stewart’s “The Year of The CATt” actually came out in 1976 but received significant airplay that year.And, we still had significant snow mounds well into the Spring beside the old concrete ball court outside the big house. GO CATS!

    • Ridge Runner
      11:58 pm July 19, 2019 Permalink

      Outstanding and to see it in person too. Remember it well.. James Lee’s instant dunks coming off the bench lit up many games that year too.

    • J. Did
      12:10 am July 20, 2019 Permalink

      Ridge Runner – Yes, James Lee was magnificent. Pivotal. Thanks for that. What an incredible KENTUCKY Basketball Team. Unreal. And, legendary.

  4. serdi
    8:23 am July 20, 2019 Permalink

    1975 Mideast Regional Final vs Indiana

    • BobbyBlue
      11:10 am July 20, 2019 Permalink

      I was there— my # 1 of all time— Dayumm I hated Booby Night, the #1 UK villain of that era !

  5. UKFanSC
    9:04 am July 20, 2019 Permalink

    Small sample size from such a young pup. My top 5 includes things like UK beating Duke in 1978 and watching Maravich and Issel light up Memorial for over 100 points between them in 1967-8 timeframe.

    • J. Did
      12:24 pm July 20, 2019 Permalink

      UKFanSC: Awesome! I remember when they played in the ABA.

  6. BallDontLie
    10:29 am July 20, 2019 Permalink

    Was born in Lexington but grew up in Iowa so going to UK games has been pretty tough. However, i have been to 3 games that i feel very lucky to have been at.
    3. UK beat down of kansas in champions classic in Indy in 2015.
    2. Harrison 3 to beat Michigan
    1. UK vs UNC in Rupp in cals first year. Watching John Wall and the gang announce that UK was back was amazing. Plus that was my first time in Rupp and it felt like i had reached mecca. Those are the only 3 UK games i have seen in person but i feel i got my money’s worth. Lol

    • RickE
      10:03 am July 21, 2019 Permalink

      1 UK beat Archie Manning & Ole Miss at Stoll Field when they were ranked #1 in the country. ’64 2 Watching Issel & Pratt play against Pete Maravich in Memorial Coliseum. 60’s 3 Watching Adolph Rupp kiss my sister on the forehead at an open practice in Freedom Hall. 4 UK beat #1 LSU at Commonwealth Stadium. 5 Tim Couch torched the Turdinals for 7 TDs in 3 quarters in the first game ever played at Papa John’s Reformatory in Louisville. Couch invested the 4th quarter signing autograph’s on the sideline. 6 Hall Of Fame Bowl against Wisconsin 1984, Birmingham, Legion Field. UK beat Wisconsin on a Paul Calhoun fake punt. I saw them successfully run the same play at IU earlier in the season. 7 UK beat ‘Bama in OT, on a Couch to Craig Yeast pass, 35 – 34. I was in the top row of the scoring end zone.