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At least it wasn’t Duke

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

“At least it wasn’t Duke.”

Those are the words Drew, Jennifer Palumbo, and I comforted one another with as we made our way up the ramp and out of Lucas Oil Stadium for the final time. Kentucky’s loss to Wisconsin was shattering and will linger in the hearts and minds of the BBN in the way only the worst do, but here’s an interesting question: would it have been worse if Kentucky had beaten Wisconsin only to lose to Duke in the final game? I argue yes.

Yesterday, someone asked me on Twitter which was worse: Saturday’s loss to Wisconsin or the one in 1992 to Duke at the hands of Christian Laettner. I imagine this vote will be divided by age, and since I was only 7 in ’92, Saturday’s loss was much more painful to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never forget sitting on the floor with my family as Laettner spun and shot, sending the room into a stunned silence. Cruelly, it’s my first truly vivid memory as a Kentucky fan, one that shaped my entire fandom from the start; however, I was still too young to grieve and process it on the level that I did Saturday’s loss. One of the reasons Saturday night hurt so badly was because I think most of us really, really believed we were going to win. Unless you are the most careful and pragmatic of fans, I’d wager you really did think Kentucky was destined to go 40-0. On Sunday morning, I even woke up and started blaming myself for thinking ahead, worrying about what outfit to wear, how much confetti I could stuff in my bag, and the blissful moment when I’d come home and collapse on my bed, fully satiated with a season that was just meant to be. Instead, I collapsed on the bed numb. Empty. Disappointed.

Had Kentucky advanced and lost to Duke tonight, it would give the Blue Devils and Coach K another knockout to mount on the wall aside ’92. The pain of not only losing, but losing to them would trump coming up short against Wisconsin, a team whose season we spoiled last year. Having the brass ring that much closer, so close you could just brush it with your fingertips, only to be yanked away by one of your arch rivals would be the cruelest joke the basketball gods ever played.

Right now, it is too soon to search for silver linings and there’s no way I can bring myself to watch tonight’s Championship game, but there is a small amount of comfort in the fact that the only way this could be worse is if it came at the hands of Duke.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

16 Comments for At least it wasn’t Duke



  1. ClutchCargo
    10:34 am April 6, 2015 Permalink

    I disagree on a couple of things. 1) It would have been better to have advanced on Saturday night because we SHOULD have advanced on Saturday night. Possibly losing to Duke has nothing to do with the Wisconsin game. 2) “The Shot” hurt way more at the time (I was 23), because that was really the first chance at getting back to a final 4 after suffering through probation and no recent history of winning a title. Duke was dead to rites and then they were rushing the court. Plus, there is no prick like Laettner and half of his teammates on Wisconsin’s roster.



  2. EyewearMan
    10:35 am April 6, 2015 Permalink

    Wisconsin was the team I dreaded the most. Fundamentally Sound with several shooters! In the first half, our Cats couldn’t grab a rebound! Up 4 with only 5 mins left, we all felt good about the team’s chances. Unable to finish down the stretch is something that we hadn’t seen this season. Losing Saturday Night or tonight would’ve felt the same for me. To come so close, and yet not finish, we as fans feel a bit empty. It was a Hell of a Season, and a Great Ride, but now very painful. Waiting to hear who is leaving and who is coming back, but knowing Next year won’t be like this one! Not sure if I’ll ever have an opportunity to experience 38 – 0 again! It HURTS! Proud of the Boys, and wish them the best! Losing Sucks!



  3. Sheeeeeiiit
    11:03 am April 6, 2015 Permalink

    I agree with this. I was worried we were fading some. They way we started to eek out victories was not the same team that dominated early in the season. Right after we lost I thought at least Duke didn’t send us home. Watching Duke play great against Michigan St concerned me. If we play our best no one beats us but we haven’t played our best for a while. So it was highly possible we pulled it out and lost to Duke. When I ask myself what’s worse than losing to WI it’s obviously losing to Duke in the final game. I just hope Wisconsin wins. But I will have to read about it because I can’t watch the game.



    • American Errorist
      11:20 am April 6, 2015 Permalink

      Bottom line is UK was the best team overall this year but the gap between them and Wisconsin was miniscule. In a one game scenario when two teams are that close in talent, you should always bet on the team with the overall best player and Wisconsin had the best player.



  4. ukbradstith
    11:05 am April 6, 2015 Permalink

    I’d rather lose to Wisconsin than to Duke, but if it means getting to play one more night and having the excitement of a championship game, I’ll take the lose to Duke.



  5. reedwizard
    11:32 am April 6, 2015 Permalink

    I’d rather make the championship game and lose to Duke than to lose Saturday night. Both teams would have a combined 17 McDonald all-americans and would show how Duke how now used the UK blueprint of winning with Freshman. The game would have been much more open and the players would’ve played loose. A great game indeed…the slowly kill you game was miserable to watch and seeing those calls aid us playing horrendous offense the last 4 minutes of the game was all the difference to me.



  6. BlueDeuce
    11:38 am April 6, 2015 Permalink

    I as 22 when UK lost to Duke and it took some time to get over that loss…and still hate seeing that reply over and over!

    This loss though…I followed this season more than any season it seems like because of the historic ride we were taken on. The season started in August too, not November. I feel as if I know these guys personally because unlike previous Cal years, players returned instead of going to the NBA. Yeah there were new guys but they weren’t the only conversation. They are all tremendous kids too…not trouble makers, nothing bad off the court and on the court, you could tell they really enjoyed being around one another….this loss though…yeah, it will sting for some time.

    Not for the loss as a fan though, that’s sports and you live with that but, as a lover of college basketball, an avid fan of UK, to see the guys not reach the pinnacle of their sport, that’s what hurts more. I wanted it so bad for them. Me, I’m just a fan and have next year but, they won’t get THIS team again next year.



  7. Al B. Frank
    11:42 am April 6, 2015 Permalink

    We would have easily have beaten Duke. They are far overrated, and I knew going into the Wisconsin game that the winner of this game (UK-Wisconsin) will be the National Champs. We would have beaten Duke by 20 or more.



  8. abo14
    11:54 am April 6, 2015 Permalink

    What if they all come back?



    • RealCatsFan
      12:08 pm April 6, 2015 Permalink

      And what if pigs learn to fly? What if the NCAA actually punishes UNC? What if Rick Pitino remains faithful to his wife?



    • BlueDeuce
      12:09 pm April 6, 2015 Permalink

      They aren’t…twins, WCS and KAT are gone for sure. Booker, Lyles, Johnson are the ones that I hope return. Pair them with Ulis and the incoming group as well a Lee…that’ll be another great team and even a team I could get to love as much as this group. I enjoy seeing them go pro to reach their dreams but it’s also nice to get to know them a little more when they stick around and share their talent and personalities with BBN!

      WCS and the twins will be hard to replace (personalities). Exact opposite of each other but each (even the twins) were their own person. KAT too…he really was a good hearted kid and kind.

      Tough to see them go but they are gone…I’ve accepted that and think everyone in BBN should as well. It was a great ride and all because of them…hate it ended the way it did but still a great, enjoyable, fun and exciting ride. The loss will not tarnish the season for me!



  9. RealCatsFan
    12:07 pm April 6, 2015 Permalink

    Doesn’t matter at this point, does it? The thing that burns me up is that Duke once again gets their path cleared for an easy waltz to the championship, just like they had in 2010. I don’t think I will be able to bring myself to watch the game tonight.



    • BlueDeuce
      12:10 pm April 6, 2015 Permalink

      Wisconsin will be a tough match up for them…much more so than for UK.



    • RealCatsFan
      12:21 pm April 6, 2015 Permalink

      BD, I agree, but Duke will get all the calls – mark my words. Those flops that Dekker and Kaminski used against UK that resulted in charging calls will not pan out the same way against Duke. Okafor has been lowering his shoulder an bulling into opponents with immunity all year. Watch and see if you want, but I won’t.



  10. mikeintn
    3:23 pm April 6, 2015 Permalink

    I would have much rather lost to Wisconsin then Puke, I had thought of that before the game, I couldnt imagine losing to Puke in the Championship game, we would have never heard the end of that, they would have taking our Championship and 40-0, and there would never ever been a chance for us to get them back, because they would never be 39-0 and us playing them in a Championship game, no thanks dont want them having that on us forever, its enough seeing the 92 game playing ever year.



  11. Kevin C
    6:26 pm April 6, 2015 Permalink

    LOL…this is WORSE than losing to Duke. Now we will likely have to watch Ol’ Ratface take home yet another trophy, and we didn’t even get the opportunity to play them for it. Since last August, most people felt this season was destined for a NC game meeting between UK and Duke ; Duke did their part (even if they, yet again, got to sleepwalk to the title game), and UK failed.