The last decade has seen plenty of memories. Many of them were incredible and have been chronicled on this website in the past weeks. All of the great players and teams made for ten years of unbelievable moments. Still, sometimes those players lost and sometimes those moments were memorable for the worst of reasons. So here is a list of the ten nearest misses and toughest losses for both the football and basketball teams in the 2000’s, in no particular order. Hoops first…
Louisville 74, Kentucky 71 – January 4, 2009 — Before the Billy Gillispie experiment went horribly wrong in the second half of last season, we actually played some decent basketball at times. One of those times was in Freedom Hall almost a year ago, when we had the heavily-favored and highly thought of Cards on the ropes, coming back from multiple double-digit deficits to tie it on two Jodie Meeks free throws with under :20 left. Had the game gone to overtime, the momentum surely would have seen us crush the Cards in the final episode of the series in Freedom Hall. Unfortunately, Edgar Sosa had other thoughts, as he lucked in a three from 25-feet away to break our hearts. We must destroy them Saturday.
South Carolina 78, Kentucky 77 – January 31, 2009 — The second of two losses in our short-lived appearance in the top-25 last season, this one was painful on a lot of levels. Devan Downey and Zam Frederick (who?) hit everything they threw up, including Downey’s final-seconds drive to kill us and continue the downward spiral that began with Jeannine/Billy Part 1. And, my power was knocked out by a falling limb at halftime, forcing me to jet to a local hole in the wall to watch the rest, only to be heckled by a drunk, one-armed homeless man and his band of misfits for the duration of the second period. I hate South Carolina.
Michigan State 94, Kentucky 88 (2OT) – March 27, 2005 — Literally the only game that has approached bringing tears to my eyes as an adult Wildcat fan. We had so many chances, and had we just been able to get a flipping rebound in the second overtime, Tubby would have gotten his Final Four and things might be a lot different around these parts. Now, would I trade where we are now for the Final Four then? Doubtful. But the hurt still cuts deep. However, the images of Chuck watching his college career flash before his eyes as Sparks’ three hung on the rim and Sparks giving Billy Packer the business after the shot dropped are some of my favorites, even if the game was one of the most painful.
UAB 76, Kentucky 75 – March 21, 2004 — This was a game that had upset written on it as soon as the brackets came out. UAB was fearless, fast-paced and ready to go. When Thing 1 threw a backwards pass 60 feet downcourt for an uncontested Thing 2 layup, the whole world knew we were in trouble. Still, Gerald Fitch had a chance to win it at the end, but his open look caught front iron and we squandered our second straight number-one seed.
Marquette 83, Kentucky 69 – March 29, 2003 — Speaking of which, this was the first of those number-one seeds. This game makes the list not for the score, but for the fact that it was by far the best chance we had in the decade to win a title. With Keith Bogans hobbled by an ankle injury, the Cats had no one to check Dwyane Wade or match his production, leaving the door open for Wade to have what even Ice Cube would say was a good day, destroying us with a triple-double.
Mississippi State 84, Kentucky 82 – March 9, 2007 — One of the most frustrating losses I can remember. Jodie Meeks was at the line with five seconds left and a chance to put us up by four. He sank the first and, judging by the fact that he was like a 400% free throw shooter, was poised to surely hit the second and send us on to the semis. Instead, Sheray Thomas left the lane after Jodie got the ball for his second attempt and Meeks never got the chance to seal the deal because of the lane violation. Jamont Gordon buried a three to tie it up at the buzzer, and we couldn’t hold a lead in overtime as the Bulldogs put us away.
And the pigskin…
Arkansas 71, Kentucky 63 (7OT) – November 1, 2003 — In what is still tied for the longest game in NCAA football history, this has to rank near the top of the craziest college football games ever played. It had everything one could want in a game: A comeback from the Cats, the Round Mound running for three scores, seven wild overtimes, two recovered punts for touchdowns, and the other Matt Jones. There have been more exciting games, but few that were this unbelievable. And long.
Tennessee 52, Kentucky 50 (4OT) – November 24, 2007 — And here’s one of those more exciting games now! This is one that will forever be ingrained in Cat fans’ memories. I mean, 2007 was supposed to be our year. There was Stevie getting loose, the LSU magic, and everything said it was time to beat Tennessee for the first time in many people’s lives. Andre Woodson was golden and we played inspired, coming back from 17-down to get those dirty snitches right where we wanted them and end the streak. Until it all went wrong. Lones had what would have been the game-winning kick blockedand Woodson was stopped on a two-point conversion try in overtime to end it. Probably the most stinging loss since…
The Gat Dang Bluegrass Miracle – November 9, 2002 – I believe most are familiar with the Bluegrass Miracle, but for those who are not, I will recap: It was a bunch of crap. Moving on.
Tennessee 30, Kentucky 24 (OT) – November 28, 2009 — Almost too fresh to talk about. Another episode of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory for the Cats in this horrendous streak of losses to the Vols. None may have been more puzzling, as money-in-the-bank Randall Cobb failed to get a touch inside the 10 at the end of regulation. Instead, we wound up settling for the tying field goal and watched the eventual jailbreak touchdown run from Montario Hardesty in OT ruin what many thought was our best chance in years to beat the ugly orange.
So there you have it. What didn’t kill us has only made us stronger, or at least more pissed. Please, discuss the pain in the comments, or let me have it for putting together a terrible list.