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Cure your offseason blues with 10 of Kentucky’s most exciting game-winners from the last 10 years

Aaron Harrison game-winner vs. Michigan


This year’s euphoric ride to the national championship may be over, but Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard’s game-winning three-pointer that sent Terrence Jones’ Houston Rockets home packing this weekend reminded basketball fans just how thrilling buzzer-beating baskets can be. Cure your offseason blues with 10 of Kentucky’s most exciting game-winners from the past 10 years:


Honorable mention— March 27, 2005: Patrick Sparks (vs. Michigan State, NCAA Tournament Elite Eight) [LINK]

The only reason reason this shot isn’t among the top of the list is because Kentucky did not win the game. After Patrick Sparks’ first attempt was partially blocked, and Kelenna Azubuike’s three-pointer fell short, Sparks corralled the ball at the top of the key, double pump faked, and nailed a long-range shot at the buzzer (through contact) to send the game to the first of two overtimes. However, the ‘Cats came up short, falling to Michigan State 88-94.


10. February 2, 2009: Jodie Meeks (vs. Florida) [LINK]

With the game tied at 65 apiece, Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks took a step-back jumper from beyond the three-point arc to seal a win over the Gators with under 5 seconds remaining. Florida’s Nick Calathes did drive the length of the court and draw a foul on an ensuing three-point attempt of his own as time expired, but Calathes missed all three free throws and the Wildcats held on, 68-65.


9. February 22, 2014: Julius Randle (vs. LSU) [LINK]

After falling behind by 1 to LSU with 11.5 seconds remaining in overtime, Andrew Harrison sped down the court and found swingman James Young for a game-winning layup attempt that fell short of the basket. Randle grabbed the rebound and sunk the put-back floater with 3.9 seconds on the clock. UK won the game, 77-76.


8. January 21, 2006: Rajon Rondo (vs. South Carolina) [LINK]

With under 10 tics remaining on the clock, Tubby Smith’s Kentucky Wildcats found themselves down by 1 point to the South Carolina Gamecocks. Joe Crawford inbounded the ball, and the the excitement immediately unfolded. Rajon Rondo drove the ball down the court past four different USC defenders and threw up a fadeaway three as he lost his balance and fell on his back. The ball went in, and the ‘Cats won 80-78.


7. March 17, 2011: Brandon Knight (vs. Princeton, NCAA Tournament round of 64) [LINK]

In the opening game of Kentucky’s 2011 run to the Final Four, the ‘Cats found themselves tied with the Ivy League’s Princeton Tigers 57-57. Leaving only 2 seconds on the clock, freshman guard Brandon Knight drove in for a game-winning layup to lift Kentucky to a 59-57 victory.


6. November 16, 2009: John Wall (vs. Miami of Ohio) [LINK]

The swagger that John Calipari and his inaugural recruiting class (consisting of future pro’s John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, and Daniel Orton) brought back to the University of Kentucky cannot be understated. In John Wall’s first ever collegiate game (after sitting out Kentucky’s first game of the season for receiving “improper travel benefits” while on the AAU circuit), Wall zoomed down the length of the court with just over 6 seconds remaining to hit a step-back midrange jump shot to lift the ‘Cats over the RedHawks of Miami (OH), 72-70.


5. December 21, 2004: Patrick Sparks (at Louisville) [LINK]

Former Western Kentucky transfer Patrick Sparks was born with ice water in his veins. With 4.8 seconds to go (and UK down by 1 to Louisville on the road at Freedom Hall), Sparks inbounded the ball to Kelenna Azubuike. Azubuike initially pulled up for a wild three-point attempt, only to change his mind at the last second and dish the ball back to Sparks in the corner. Patrick pump faked and immediately attempted a game-winning three-pointer, but the 6’1″ guard drew contact and a foul as time expired. Sparks hit all three free throws with 0.6 seconds added to the clock, sealing the game for Kentucky, 60-58.


4. March 30, 2014: Aaron Harrison (vs. Michigan, NCAA Tournament Elite Eight) [LINK]

Aaron Harrison received the ball from his twin brother Andrew at the top of the key with 7 seconds to go. Kentucky was knotted up with Michigan at 72-72 with a trip to the Final Four on the line. Despite great defense from 6’6″ Wolverines guard Caris LeVert, Aaron pulled up behind the arc and sunk the game-winner, sending the ‘Cats to the Final Four for the 16th time in school history.


3. March 25, 2011: Brandon Knight (vs. Ohio State, NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen)

Brandon Knight may have played at Kentucky for only one season, but his team’s run to the Final Four included not one, but two game-winners from the Fort Lauderdale, FL native. In a Sweet Sixteen matchup with the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed Ohio State, the game was even at 60 with 20 seconds to go. Knight let the clock tic down to 7 seconds remaining before exploding for a pull-up jumper at the free throw line. The ball swished through the hoop, and Kentucky won 62-60.


2. March 14, 2010: DeMarcus Cousins (vs. Mississippi State, SEC Tournament championship)

After Eric Bledsoe’s free throw pulled the ‘Cats within 2 with under 5 seconds to go, Bledsoe successfully missed his second attempt to keep Kentucky’s hopes alive. John Wall grabbed the rebound, but air balled a three-point attempt to win the game. However, Cousins was there to grab the miss, and was aware enough to get the game-tying shot off under the basket as time expired— technically, not a game-winnner, but close enough to make this list. Kentucky handled the Bulldogs in overtime, winning the game 75-74.


1. April 5, 2014: Aaron Harrison (vs. Wisconsin, NCAA Tournament Final Four)

Aaron Harrison’s third consecutive late-game three-point dagger during one of the most exciting tourney runs in recent history will be remembered as one for the ages. The Wildcats were down by 2 with 8 seconds to go, when Andrew Harrison yelled at his brother to pull up for three. The shot went in, the ‘Cats won 74-73, and the rest is history.


96 Conclusion Logo


If there were any game-winners I missed, or if you thought the list should be in a different order, let me know in the comments section.


Go ‘Cats!



Article written by Connor Link


34 Comments for Cure your offseason blues with 10 of Kentucky’s most exciting game-winners from the last 10 years

  1. Johnny Be Bad
    12:31 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Agree with most of those, but I probably would have put the Brassow shot against Arizona in the Maui Invitational at the 10 spot.

    • Shaffer
      1:23 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

      Pretty sure Brassow hasn’t played in past 10 years. Let alone at UK

    • Jeff Brassow
      3:47 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

      You’re right, I didn’t play in the last ten years, but I did play at UK.

  2. DB11
    12:35 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Oh those chills…

  3. Delk for 3
    12:41 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    No way I’d put DeMarcus Cousins’ shot over Knight’s Ohio St. and Princeton shots, or Harrison’s Michigan shot. Cousins’ shot was simply for a SEC title and that just doesn’t hold the weight of a huge NCAA tournament win. Harrison’s two shots are 1 and 2, there is simply no debating it. One is to go the Final 4 and the other is to win a Final 4 game. Knight’s shot vs. Ohio St. capped one of the biggest upsets of Kentucky history in a huge moment. His shot vs. Princeton was just clutch and it holds a lot of weight due to the tournament run that followed.

    • Dude
      12:51 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

      The key word here is “exciting.” When Cuz hit that shot, I cheered and jumped around my living room just as much as when Harrison hit the 3 against Wisco – because it was exciting.

      Same can be said for Meeks shot over Florida – I haven’t heard Rupp get much louder than that.


  4. Seth
    12:46 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Going to cheese it up a little, but got to go to the Final Four this year with my dad. Big Blue runs in our family, to be in the Final Four watching your team, and then the buzzer beater against Wisconsin has to be one of the best experiences a father and son can have.

  5. mike
    12:54 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    what about anthony davis block against UNC??

  6. Johnny Be Bad
    12:57 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    If we changed it to most memorable last second shot, I’d offer Sean Woods’ uncontested layup as time expired at Miss St…. we were down 3 when he shot it….

  7. Kyle
    1:05 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Fun post. Thanks

  8. Bluehaz
    1:10 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Vernon Hatton’s mid court with 1 sec to play against Temple

    1:10 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Cedric Jenkins tip in at the buzzer to beat Louisville – 1987
    Eric Daniels put-back to win at Miss. St. (when they were good)
    Nazr Muhammed “shot” to win at Vandy (first win in UK’s 2002-2003 undefeated SEC season)

    • Nazr Mohammed
      3:49 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

      My shot that beat Vanderbilt was during the 1997-1998 season.

  10. Hey
    1:25 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    …”from the last 10 years” means since 2004.

  11. JPhelps
    1:26 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Still remember the Rondo shot to this day. Every UK fan I know screamed “NOOOOOOOO!” When that ball left his hand.

  12. Woody Wood Pecker
    1:41 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Huh, huh, huh, HEH-huh! HEHEHEHEHEHEH!

  13. Dude
    2:00 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Uh oh…another Louisville player gets arrested. Haha!

  14. Joe Dennison
    2:12 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    I’m now 71 and have seen a lot of “game changing plays”, at least so far. One of my top plays was AD’s block of the NC shot at the end of the game. It also helps that AD is in my top ten players ever at The BBN. Kudos to Mike, above….

  15. Elwood Blues
    2:23 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    The Cousins buzzer beater was so cool because of the near-impossible situation we were in. Those intentional miss plays NEVER work, but the end to that game was something you’d see in Hollywood.

    I think I would’ve taken the Julius Randle buzzer beater out. I remember watching that and I honestly didn’t care that much. They should’ve never been in that position in the first place, and the fact that fans were celebrating a buzzer beater in overtime at home to a vastly inferior team, I’m just not buying into that one. Patrick Sparks’s three against Michigan State should’ve definitely been on the list. Aaron Harrison should have the top 2 spots in my opinion.

  16. nuzeguy
    2:28 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    I realize this is a small thing but I’m so tired of KSRs revisionist history on many things. Andrew didn’t tell him to shoot. You can clearly see him yell “go”. In other words, ” do something dude, we are about to run out of clock.” I realize the false story sounds better but stop perpetuating a myth when there is indisputable video evidence to the contrary.

  17. ....
    2:55 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Boogies shot wasn’t a game winner..

  18. Sports Guy
    2:59 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Great list IMO, but Andrew said “Go. Go!” to Aaron, meaning ‘get going, drive!’ At least thaw what I’ve seen and read. But again, great list otherwise.

  19. Sports Guy
    3:03 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    There for Rondo’s and BKnight vs Princeton. But I remember my setting for all. Good memories.

  20. Aaron Harrison's Balls
    3:11 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    I think the Knight shot versus OSU was nearly as big as mine and deserves the 2 spot. As mentioned, Cousins shot was not even a game winner.

  21. ok-cats-computer
    4:59 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    How about this one:

  22. Chimichanga
    5:01 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Where can I find a high res image of Aaron shooting the winning shot like the one above?

  23. Season Never Ends
    5:34 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Welcome to my world, Conner 🙂

  24. cjcat
    5:38 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Thanks for the memories!

  25. Megan
    6:37 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    “This is the point where he always hits it . . .”

    My favorite call of the tournament by Jim Nance.

  26. Biff Switters
    8:05 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Not the Wichita St. game???? That’s fishy! With that storyline (beating a 35-0 team) and how it lived up to the hype I’d at least put it on the same level as the Michigan and Wisconsin game or maybe one under since it was a 3rd round game, but I’d put it before the Boogie (SEC) tourney game.

  27. Ronerhea
    8:26 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Not sure if it was in last ten years, but Erik Daniels had a pretty amazing last second shit against Miss St. Think it was his senior year.

  28. Ronerhea
    8:48 pm May 4, 2014 Permalink

    Correction**** last second shot****

  29. ESPNs bias towards UK is laughable
    1:57 am May 5, 2014 Permalink

    I can remember being so pissed, while watching Sports Nation, count down the top 15 most exciting moments, from the 2011 NCAA tournament. Brandon Knights game winning layup against Princeton came in at #12, while Knights game winning jumper against Ohio State, failed to make the list.

  30. Dee
    7:00 am May 5, 2014 Permalink

    Didn’t BTI do a post on this a couple weeks ago?