The 1991 and 1997 seasons each left Kentucky fans yearning for more.
In the first, Kentucky achieved everything it could under a postseason ban, going 22-6 to post the best record in the SEC. Even though they had a parade celebrating the team’s achievements in Rick Pitino’s second season, many wondered would could have been if Pitino’s Bambinos could play in the NCAA Tournament.
Pitino almost had his second consecutive title in what would be his final season at Kentucky. Then Derek Anderson suffered a torn ACL in his right knee. The SEC’s leading scorer in January, he believed he could have played in the National Championship Game. Instead, Pitino chose not to potentially jeopardize his future and sidelined the Louisville native for the season. Anderson’s absence defined the 97 season, which is why he’s absent from this team.
Without Anderson, Ron Mercer performed admirably, earning consensus First Team All-American honors and winning SEC Player of the Year. Anthony Epps ran the show at point. The senior from Lebanon, Ky. hit a game-tying three in the final seconds of the 1997 title game. Unfortunately he shares the same company with Patrick Sparks and Sean Woods, makers of what would have been historic UK basketball shots if the Cats could have survived to win in overtime.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Hanson and Feldhaus are formidable forwards. They could carry their weight offensively inside and out, but there’s an enormous mismatch on the defensive end. Who could they guard? Feldhaus would not be the worst matchup for Mercer, but if Hanson is stuck guarding Epps I like the representative from Region 5 vs. Region 12.
Ron Mercer is undoubtedly the best player on the floor. The question is, can he be contained at all to give 1991 a shot at victory?
BBN Jam Round One: Can Ron Mercer be contained by the 1991 squad? https://kentuckysportsradio.com/basketball-2/bbn-jam-round-one-1997-mercer-epps-vs-1991-hanson-feldhaus/