The Georgia Dome welcomes the Kentucky Wildcats (35-2) and Baylor Bears (30-7) as the two squads battle in the South Regional final for the right to play in the 2012 Final Four in New Orleans. UK, coming off an emotionally charged 102-90 victory over border-rival Indiana, will be playing for its 15th Final Four appearance. Baylor, who beat Xavier 75-70 in the other regional semifinal Friday night, is vying to make its third Final Four appearance, its first since 1950.
Kentucky-Baylor series history
The Cats and Bears have only hooked up six times on the hardwood prior to Sunday’s Elite Eight matchup, with Kentucky winning all six contests. The first meeting between the two schools occurred in December 1946, a game Kentucky won 75-34 as UK round-ball icon Ralph Beard paced the Cats with 12 points.
Two years later, in the 1948 NCAA Tournament title game held at the old Madison Square Garden, UK came out on top 58-42 as Alex Groza and Beard led the Cats to their first national championship. And in a twist unheard of in today’s college basketball, UK coach Adolph Rupp did not make a substitution until the 6:30 mark of the second half.
Six days later in the Olympic Trials, Rupp’s Cats once again beat Baylor, this time 77-59, as Groza poured in 33 for the victors.
The last meeting between the two teams came in December 1979 at Rupp Arena, as Kyle Macy, with 17 points, and Sam Bowie, with 12 rebounds, led the Cats to an 80-46 win.
UK in the Elite Eight (since the tourney expanded to 64 teams in 1986)The Wildcats have played in 12 NCAA regional final contests, winning five and losing seven:
Playing as a No. 1 seed, UK lost to 11 seed LSU 59-57 in the Southeast Regional final in 1986 … Playing as a No. 2 seed, the Cats (aka, The Unforgettables) lost to No. 1 seed Duke 104-103 in the 1992 East Regional final in what many consider to be the greatest college basketball game ever played … 1993 saw Kentucky finally bust down the Final Four door (for the first time since 1984), as No. 1 seeded UK beat No. 3 seed Florida State 106-81 in the Southeast Regional final … No. 2 seed North Carolina brought down the No. 1 seed Cats 74-61 in the 1995 Southeast Regional final … On its way to its sixth national championship in 1996, No. 1 seed Kentucky beat No. 2 seed Wake Forest 83-63 in the Midwest Regional final … In 1997, No. 1 seed UK bettered No. 2 seed Utah 72-59 in the West Regional final … On their way to Kentucky’s seventh national title, the Comeback Cats played to their moniker as No. 2 seed UK overcame a 17-point deficit with 9:38 left in the game to overcome No. 1 seed Duke in the 1998 South Regional final … In 1999, No. 3 seed Kentucky fell to No. 1 seed Michigan State 73-66 in the Midwest Regional final … The No. 1 seed Cats, after star guard Keith Bogans suffered a high ankle sprain in UK’s Sweet 16 win, lost to Dwyane Wade and No. 3 seed Marquette in the Midwest Regional final in 2003 … In a classic, two-overtime contest against No. 5 seed Michigan State, the No. 2 seed Wildcats went down 94-88 in the Austin Regional final in 2005 … No. 2 seed West Virginia zoned its way to a 73-66 win over No. 1 seed Kentucky in the 2010 East Regional final … And last year, No. 4 seed UK beat No. 2 seed North Carolina 76-69 in the East Regional final, sending Kentucky to its 14th Final Four.
Kentucky in the 2012 NCAA Tournament
Doron Lamb – 17.7 points per game; 60.0 percent field goals (18 of 30); 66.7 percent 3s (8 of 12); 90.0 percent free throws (9 of 10); 2.3 rebounds per game
Marquis Teague – 16.7 ppg; 48.6 percent FGs (17 of 35); 16.7 percent 3s (1 for 6); 78.9 percent FTs (15 of 19); 3.0 rpg; 6.0 assists per game; 2.3 turnovers per game
Darius Miller – 14.7 ppg; 65.2 percent FGs (15 of 23); 62.5 percent 3s (5 for 8); 90.0 percent FTs (9 for 10); 4.3 rpg; 2.0 apg
Terrence Jones – 14.0 ppg; 54.8 percent fgs (17-31); 40.0 percent 3s (2-5); 8.7 rpg (3.0 offensive rpg); 1.7 apg; 1.0 blocks per game
Anthony Davis – 13.3 ppg; 50.0 percent fgs (11 of 22); 78.3 percent fts (18 for 23); 11.0 rpg (2.7 offensive rpg); 3.3 apg; 4.0 bpg
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – 11.7 ppg; 44.4 percent FGs (12 of 27); 84.6 percent FTs (11 for 13); 8.0 rpg (3.0 offensive rpg)
Kyle Wiltjer – In 17 minutes of NCAA tourney action, Wiltjer has scored six points on 2-of-4 3-point shooting, grabbed two rebounds and blocked one shot.
UK Baylor pregame notes: Calipari second-guesses movie choice