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94 feet: UK-Iowa State presented thriller in last meeting in NCAA Tournament

No. 1 Kentucky (33-2) took care of its second-round business with an 81-66 win over Western Kentucky and now advances into the NCAA Tournament’s third round to take on eighth-seeded Iowa State (23-10), after the Cyclones crushed the UConn Huskies’ chance to defend its title.

History of UK vs. Iowa State

The Cats and Cyclones first met on the basketball court in December 1964 at UK’s Memorial Coliseum. No. 9 Kentucky, led by Louie Dampier’s 37 points on 17-of-24 field goals, easily handed Iowa State on that day, 100-74. Both UK and ISU scorched the nylon, though, with the Cats making 53.5 percent of their shots (40 of 75), and the Cyclones connecting for 50.9 percent (29 of 57).

The Wildcats also owned the glass, outrebounding ISU 46-31, with future Rupp’s Runts Dampier, Pat Riley and Larry Conley combining to snag 27 boards.

It was 28 years later, on March 22, 1992, in Worcester, Mass., that Kentucky and Iowa State next hooked up on the hardwood. This time the stakes were a bit higher, as the two schools were matched up in the NCAA Tournament’s second round.

The Wildcats, aka The Unforgettables, came out smoking from long range on their way to making 11 of 22 from beyond the arc, as the Cats and Cyclones worked the scorekeepers pencil to a nub, in a 106-98 UK win.

Kentucky placed five players in double figures, with sophomore Jamal Mashburn pacing the Cats with 27 points. John Pelphrey chipped in with 20, as he, Deron Feldhaus, and Richie Farmer combined to connect on 9-of-12 3-point shots. Not to be outdone, point guard Sean Woods scored 18 points and handed out nine assists.

Current ISU head coach Fred Hoiberg (more on him in a minute) grabbed eight rebounds in the contest, while scoring two points. Coached by the legendary Johnny Orr (the all-time leader in wins at both Michigan and Iowa State), the Cyclones were led in scoring by Justus Thigpen with 32 points, and Ron Bayless with 30.

Of course, the Cats advanced to the Elite Eight where one of the most memorable eras in UK basketball came to an end, as UK went down to Duke 104-103 in “the greatest game ever played.”

The Hoiberg file

Sitting on the ISU bench Saturday night will be 39-year-old, second-year head coach Fred Hoiberg. Earning the nickname “The Mayor” while a player for Iowa State — in 1993 he received write-in votes in the Ames, Iowa, mayoral election — Hoiberg went on to become the most popular Cyclone in the school’s history.

As a senior in high school, Hoiberg won Iowa’s 1991 Mr. Basketball award, and after matriculating to ISU, he gained a richly deserved reputation as a 3-point specialist, as Hoiberg ended his career by making 183-of-457 long-range shots (40.0 percent). In his junior year (1994), Hoiberg connected on 59-of-131 shots from distance, for a very Doron Lamb-like 45.0 percent.

Hoiberg scored 1,993 points in his four-year collegiate career, as he averaged 15.8 points per game and started 123 of 126 games played, earning a first-team All-Big Ten nod in 1995.

Hoiberg played his first three years at ISU under the tutelage of Orr, and his final year under current UTEP head man Tim Floyd.

Drafted with the 52nd pick of the 1995 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers, Hoiberg enjoyed a 10-year professional basketball career with stops in Chicago and Minnesota along the way. While with the Timberwolves in 2005, Hoiberg led the NBA in 3-point accuracy. In the offseason, though, Hoiberg had successful surgery for an enlarged aortic root. He attempted to come back from the surgery, but in the end opted to hang up his sneakers for a front office job as vice president of basketball operations with the T-wolves.

Hoiberg took over at ISU after Greg McDermott left Ames to take the head coaching spot at Creighton. Hoiberg won 2012 Big 12 Co-Coach of the Year honors, sharing the award with Kansas’ Bill Self. He improved his squad’s league record by nine games, going from three conference wins in 2011 to a 12-6 mark this season.

Kentucky-Iowa State connection

Those Kentucky fans long in the tooth will remember former Wildcat assistant coach Lynn Nance, who worked the Wildcat sideline in the 1975 and 1976 seasons under Joe B. Hall.

Nance, who worked for the NCAA for one year before coming to Kentucky, is probably best remembered by UK fans for being the man who confronted then-Indiana coach Bob Knight after Knight smacked Coach Hall in the back of the head toward the end of the UK-IU game in December 1974 (a 98-74 IU win). Referees and coaches intervened, so no blood was shed, but Nance will forever be remembered for showing true grit in taking on the General.

Nance left UK after the 1976 season to take the head coaching position at, you guessed it, Iowa State. He stayed in Ames for four years, leaving after the 1980 season. He later went on to head coaching positions at St. Mary’s (1986-89) and Washington (1989-93), where he was an honorable mention All-America as a player. Nance enjoyed his greatest coaching success at the Division II level, as he led Central Missouri State to the DII national title in 1984.

Nance was hired in 2010 by LSU’s Trent Johnson as an assistant coach, a position he held for one season.

Stay tuned to CoachCal.com as Eric Lindsey and Guy Ramsey will be along with comprehensive coverage of Kentucky’s battle with Iowa State.