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94 feet: Kentucky’s history in the NCAA Tournament

The No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats (32-2) make the short trip west to the Yum! Center to take on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (16-18) in an NCAA second-round matchup of intra-state rivals. The Hilltoppers advanced into the second round Tuesday night by beating Mississippi Valley State, coached by former UK player and “Unforgettable” Sean Woods, after being down 16 points with 4:50 remaining.

For Kentucky and its fans, the March through the Madness, and on to New Orleans, begins now.

UK-WKU series history

The Cats and Tops have met five other times on the hardwood, with Kentucky holding a 3-2 edge in the series. The two teams last met in November of 2001, when the Toppers beat No. 4 Kentucky 64-52 in the NABC Classic.

The schools also have an NCAA Tournament history, having met in the Mideast regional semifinals in 1971, a game WKU dominated in a 107-83 win. WKU All-America Jim McDaniels led the Toppers with 35 points, still a record number of points for a UK opponent in the NCAA tourney.

Fifteen years later, in 1986, Kenny Walker poured in 36 points against the Tops in a Southeast Regional second-round contest No. 3 UK won 71-64. In the regular season, Kentucky beat WKU in 1990, 84-70, and 1992, 93-81.

Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament

The Wildcats are making their NCAA-record 52nd NCAA Tournament appearance, a mark they’ve missed only once since 1991. In those 52 appearances, the Cats have played in 151 games, a tournament record, and won 51 games, tied for most tourney wins with North Carolina.

The Basics

What: NCAA Tournament second round
Who: Kentucky (32-2) vs. Western Kentucky (16-18)
When: Thursday at 6:50 p.m.
Where: KFC Yum! Center (22,090) in Louisville, Ky.
UK Athletics Tourney Central
Pregame tailgate

WKU File


Record: 16-18
Head coach: Ray Harper (11-7 at WKU)
Seed: 16
Nickname: Hilltoppers
Conference: Sun Belt
Player to watch: Derrick Gordon (11.8 points, 6.8 rebounds)
Series history: UK leads 3-2
Last meeting:  WKU won 64-52 in 2001
Of course most Kentucky fans know the Cats have won seven national championships, second to UCLA’s 11 titles, but right on the heels of UK are North Carolina with five championships (the last coming in 2009), and Indiana, which won the last of its five titles in 1987.

In terms of Final Four appearances, the Cat rank fourth with 14. Ahead of UK is North Carolina with 18, UCLA with 17 and Duke with 15. But in total Final Four wins, the Cats are second with 17 NCAA Tournament victories, behind UCLA’s 25 wins.

Playing as one of the four No. 1 seeds in the tournament, UK has posted a 32-9 record overall (.780 winning percentage), 8-0 versus No. 16 seeds. Against the winner of the No. 8 seed vs. No. 9 seed contest, the Cats are 9-1. Versus seeds 1 through 5, Kentucky is 14-7.

John Calipari has a 32-13 NCAA Tournament record (.711 winning percentage), with three Final Fours and seven Elite Eights to his credit.

Possible opponents

UK boasts a winning tournament record against possible foes Duke (3-2), Indiana (2-1), Syracuse (2-1), Baylor (1-0) and Iowa State (1-0). Getting the best of the Cats in the NCAA tourney are UConn (0-2), Ohio State (1-5), North Carolina (1-2) and Michigan State (1-3). Kansas and Kentucky have split its two tourney matchups.

UK’s NCAA Tournament records

  • UK’s 113 points scored against Mt. Saint Mary’s in the first round in 1995 still stands as the most points ever scored by the Wildcats in a tourney game (UK won 113-67).
  • The fewest points UK has ever scored in a tournament game is 28 against Dartmouth in the 1942 Elite Eight (UK lost 47-28).
  • The fewest points Kentucky has allowed to a tourney opponent is 36 by Oklahoma State in the 1949 title game (in this game the Fabulous Five won their second straight championship 46-36).
  • The Cats blocked 14 shots against UCLA in the 1998 Sweet 16, setting the Wildcat tourney high mark for swats in a game (UK advanced 94-68).
  • Kentucky committed a record-low six turnovers against both Stanford in the 1998 Final Four and Utah in the 1996 Sweet 16 (not surprisingly Kentucky won both games).
  • With 44 points against Notre Dame in the 1970 Sweet 16, Dan Issel holds the UK single-game tournament scoring record.
  • Bill Spivey collected 21 rebounds against Kansas State in the 1951 championship game, a number which still stands as a UK tourney record.
  • In the second round of the 1984 tournament, Dicky Beal dished out 14 assists against BYU, another long-standing UK tourney bench mark.
  • Jamal Magloire and Nazr Mohammed both blocked six shots in the same game (against San Jose State in the 1996 first round), setting the Wildcat single-game block record in the Big Dance.

Stay tuned to CoachCal.com, as Eric Lindsey and Guy Ramsey will be along with comprehensive coverage of Kentucky’s Second Round game against WKU.