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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Ranking Every Win of the John Calipari Era

anthony davis my house

I got into this mode with friends this weekend reminiscing about the Calipari era at UK and how it compared to the Tubby era.  And while I will forever argue that Tubby should have his name in the rafters at Rupp Arena and is highly underrated, something that Tubby’s teams often were was forgettable.  Not only the players themselves but the games they played.  Even when I think back to Tubby’s great teams in 2003, 2004, and 2005, there aren’t a ton of games that will forever live in UK lore.  Off the top of my head, the Erik Daniels buzzer-beater against Mississippi State, the Florida beatdown in 2003, and maybe the Vandy comeback in 2003 come to mind.  But really, Tubby’s teams were boring to watch, even when winning.  And their wins often came with little excitement.

Calipari is a whole different animal.  He now has 210 wins in his tenure here and when running through the schedules I came up with 13 wins that will forever live in UK lore and another 27 that were incredibly memorable for one reason or another.  Even beyond the Final Fours and championship in 2012, you could argue Calipari has done more to imprint new, wonderful memories into the program since Rupp.  And maybe more.

Here is my list of the 210 wins of the Cal era.  What kind of order would you make?

THE ELITE
1. 2011-12: Louisville (69-61), Final Four bragging rights never to be forgotten
2. 2011-12: Kansas (67-59), Title #8
3. 2013-14: Wisconsin (74-73), Aaron Harrison Secures He Will Never Buy a Drink Again
4. 2013-14: Louisville (74-69), Comeback crushes Cards fans once again
5. 2010-11: Ohio State (62-60), Knight Becomes a Legend, Cats Bounce #1 Buckeyes
6. 2013-14: Wichita State (78-76), Cats dash Shockers undefeated dreams
7. 2014-15: Kansas (72-40), Most Dominating Performance in UK History?
8. 2011-12: North Carolina (73-72), The Block by Anthony Davis
9. 2013-14: Michigan (75-72), Aaron Harrison becomes a legend, Cats back to Final Four
10. 2014-15: Notre Dame (68-66), Cats go 38-0 in the hardest way possible, Towns dominates
11. 2010-11: North Carolina (76-69), Cats Back Into Final Four for First Time Since ’98
12. 2009-10: North Carolina (68-66), Cats Announce They Are Back on National Scale
13. 2009-10: Mississippi St (75-74, 0t), Cousins putback and Cats regain SEC Tourney Title

THE MEMORABLE
14. 2009-10: UCONN (64-61), Wall’s national coming out party
15. 2010-11: Louisville (78-63), Jorts ruins Yum Center party
16. 2014-15: UCLA (83-44), 41-7 in the 1st half
17. 2009-10: Louisville (71-62), Cousins’ elbow sends message to Cards
18. 2009-10: Cornell (62-45), The “Dumb” kids smash the Smart kids, head to Elite 8
19. 2011-12: Indiana (102-90), Cats get revenge on Hoosiers in Sweet 16
20. 2014-15: West Virginia (78-39), What Was That About 36-1?
21. 2010-11: Princeton (59-57), Knight’s game-winner helps Cats avoid upset
22. 2009-10: Drexel (88-44), The First Program to 2,000 wins
23. 2009-10: Tennessee (74-45), Cats demolish Vols in SEC Tournament Semis
24. 2009-10: Miami OH (72-70), John Wall hits buzzer beater in first game
25. 2009-10: Mississippi St (81-75, ot), Cousins “Call Me” game
26. 2013-14: LSU (77-76, ot), Randle’s putback snaps Cats slide
27. 2014-15: Louisville (58-50), Tyler Ulis becomes cult hero with bloody eye
28. 2014-15: Ole Miss (89-86 ot), Hot shooting Rebels nearly derail undefeated train
29. 2010-11: Florida (70-54), Cats crush Gators for 2nd straight SEC Tourney Title
30. 2015-16: Louisville (75-73), Cal Moves to 95-1 against Pitino (i think)
31. 2009-10: Morehead State (75-59), The First Win
32. 2011-12: Baylor (82-70), Cats into Final Four for 2nd straight year
33. 2014-15: LSU (71-69), Towns photobombs Cal after tight win
34. 2011-12: Florida (74-59), Cats wrap up undefeated SEC regular season, winning in Gainesville
35. 2012-13: Ole Miss (87-74), Noel’s 12 blocks still hard to believe
36. 2014-15: Texas A&M (70-64 2ot), Cats survive without stars, remain undefeated
37. 2014-15: Florida (68-61), Memorable for 1 reason, the WCS dunk
38. 2015-16: South Carolina (89-62), Cal ejected, Ulis coaches team to victory
39. 2015-16: Duke (74-63), Beating Duke is always memorable
40. 2012-13: Florida (61-57), Gutty performance keeps UK’s slim NCAA hopes alive

THE FORGETTABLE
*the other 170 wins

Article written by Bryan the Intern

8 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Ranking Every Win of the John Calipari Era



  1. mattwilsonky
    8:33 am February 22, 2016 Permalink

    You missed the 12-13 Gameday OT against Mizzou. At the time it looked like a tourney ticket.



  2. rhgray
    8:43 am February 22, 2016 Permalink

    2010-11: North Carolina (76-69), Cats Back Into Final Four for First Time Since ’98

    Should be #3.

    Our first Final Four appearance in 13 years was on the line, and we did it against UNC of all folks.

    The 2013-14 tournament run was amazing, but we weren’t supposed to win those games. If we had lost to Wichita State it would have been the appropriate ending to that year. The fact that we won was is great, but to me they weren’t the biggest wins of the Cal era.

    The biggest wins are those that have the most at stake, and 2013-14 we were playing with house money.



    • justaguyinthebackrow
      1:27 pm February 22, 2016 Permalink

      This is all kinds of ridiculous. How can you say you would have been happy with a loss in the second round and how can winning games you’re not supposed to not be huge games? Making a final four was just as big in ’14 as it was in ’11. It was a big win precisely because they weren’t supposed to make it. Every game in that run to the final was a big, memorable win. It was a string of hard fought, last second shot wins. It showed Cal could bring kids together and that he is an elite coach. It was especially huge given the NIT bounce of the previous year. I just don’t see how you can be a UK fan and say it would have been an appropriate ending to lose that game. I’m not trying to insult you or say you’re not a fan, I’m really just baffled.



  3. ukjaybrat
    9:11 am February 22, 2016 Permalink

    Quick Notes:

    This is more of an elite game:
    16. 2014-15: UCLA (83-44), 41-7 in the 1st half

    This is more of a memorable game:
    13. 2009-10: Mississippi St (75-74, 0t), Cousins putback and Cats regain SEC Tourney Title

    considering the circumstances, no cal, ulis=point god, sc being undefeated at home… not sure if it should be elite status, but definitely much higher on this list.
    38. 2015-16: South Carolina (89-62), Cal ejected, Ulis coaches team to victory



  4. rockatao
    10:10 am February 22, 2016 Permalink

    I would nominate two Pitino wins for most dominating ever:

    One of the Mashburn teams – lost to UT and Alan Houston late in the season- then stomped them 101-40 (I think it was) in the SEC tourney

    The game against LSU when Cats scored around 80 in the first half

    And maybe a third, NCAA tourney beatdown of Wake Forest and Tim Duncan



    • CatBlue in LR
      12:43 pm February 22, 2016 Permalink

      Yeah, those are all good memories, but I think you missed the point of the post. 🙁



  5. somerset bill
    10:37 am February 22, 2016 Permalink

    “THE FORGETTABLE
    *the other 170 wins”

    you seem to have a little jerry tipton in you. (pausing here for that image to register with everyone) your distain for kentucky basketball comes into your articles without you even being aware of it, i think. would any kentucky basketball fan consider 80 percent of the games the past 6 years, forgettable?



  6. CatBlue in LR
    12:53 pm February 22, 2016 Permalink

    You contradict yourself, BTI. You accurately capture the malaise of the Tubby years that had us all in about the worst depression since the program began its ascension in 1930, and yet he needs to go in the rafters? I don’t agree.

    As far as the best games of the Cal era, I would quibble with the ranking position of a couple of them, but you’ve done your usual good job making a comprehensive compilation. Historians will use your list when they write books about the Cal regime. You’ve done what journalism is supposed to do — provide history’s first draft.