This Week in Kentucky Basketball History: Christmas Edition

On Tuesdays throughout the 2015-2016 season we will take a trip down memory lane and look back at past great plays, players and games associated with University of Kentucky men’s basketball for that given week. So be sure to check back with us each and every Tuesday to relive the moments that make the winningest Division I men’s basketball program so special.

Dec. 20

•             1932: Kentucky proved to be too much for Tulane, racing out to a 27-8 halftime lead over the Green Wave and never looking back in a 53-17 victory. This was Kentucky's first-ever conference game as a member of the Southeastern Conference. Kentucky's defense held Tulane to just five made field goals the entire game. The Wildcats' John DeMoisey almost outscored the Green Wave by himself, chipping in 16 points.

•             1958: No. 2 Kentucky was in the middle of an offensive shootout, clinging to a 54-50 halftime lead over No. 7 West Virginia. The Wildcats held onto the lead in the second half to prevail over the Mountaineers 97-91 in the UKIT Championship. The Wildcats had four players score at least 16 points, with Sid Cohen leading the team with 23 points. Johnny Cox and Don Mills helped in the victory as well, each recording a double-double. Future Hall of Famer Jerry West scored 36 points for the Mountaineers.

•             1969: No. 1 Kentucky was in a battle with Duke in the UKIT Championship, deadlocked at 45 at halftime. But the Wildcats blew the game open in the second half, outscoring the Blue Devils 53-31 in the final twenty minutes for the convincing 98-76 victory. Current UK Sports Network analyst Mike Pratt had a double-double for the Wildcats, leading the team in both points (26) and rebounds (11).

•             1983: The Cincinnati Bearcats and head coach Tony Yates used an in-game strategy that frustrated No. 2 Kentucky and head coach Joe B. Hall and may have influenced a rule change in college basketball. Knowing that his Bearcats were no match for the Wildcats, and with no shot clock, Yates instructed his players to simply stall the game by having as few possessions as possible. The Wildcats ended up winning the game by an ugly score of 24-11, with the Bearcats attempting just 12 shots the entire game. Sam Bowie and Melvin Turpin led the team in scoring with six points apiece. A 45-second shot clock was adopted by men's college basketball just two seasons afterwards.

•             1997: The Tulsa Golden Hurricane had upset on their minds at Rupp Arena, leading No. 4 Kentucky by one point at halftime. But the Wildcats saved their best play for last, outscoring Tulsa 46-24 in the second half for the 74-53 comeback victory. Kentucky had three players score in double figures, led by Nazr Mohammed's 17 points.

•             2003: No. 2 Kentucky appeared sluggish in its first half play against border rival Indiana, leading the Hoosiers by six points at halftime. But the Wildcats had one of their most dominating second-half performances in recent memory, outscoring Indiana 48-15 in the final 20 minutes in their thorough 80-41 victory. Kentucky's defense limited Indiana to just 24.2-percent shooting from the field. Chuck Hayes was the top performer for the Wildcats, recording a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds. This is the largest margin of victory ever for Kentucky against Indiana.

•             2008: Kentucky overwhelmed Appalachian State from the tip, taking a commanding 53-21 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Wildcats cruised in the second half to defeat the Mountaineers, 93-69. But this game was about one player and one player only. Junior guard Jodie Meeks had one of the best individual performances in the history of Kentucky basketball. Meeks made nine three-point field goals, at the time tying a school record, en route to scoring a whopping 46 points in the game. The 46 points were the most ever scored by a Kentucky player at Freedom Hall and the most points scored by a Kentucky player since Dan Issel on Feb. 23, 1970.

•             2014: No. 1 Kentucky, known for suffocating defense, had quite possibly their best defensive performance in a half of the shot-clock era against the UCLA Bruins at the CBS Sports Classic in Chicago. The Wildcats held the Bruins scoreless for almost the first eight minutes of the game, jumping out to an unheard of 24-0 lead. It didn't get much better for UCLA as Kentucky went into the locker room leading by the astounding score of 41-7 at halftime. The Wildcats cruised in the second half en route to their 83-44 blowout victory over UCLA. The seven points allowed by Kentucky in the first half was indeed the fewest points allowed by the Wildcats in any half of the shot-clock era. It was also the largest margin of victory ever for Kentucky against UCLA. Freshman Devin Booker led the Wildcats in scoring with 19 points.

Dec. 21

•             1953: No. 2 Kentucky, clinging to a slim three-point at the half against No. 13 Duke, pulled away from the Blue Devils in the final 20 minutes to secure an 85-69 victory in the UKIT. Senior center Cliff Hagan led the Wildcats in scoring with 27 points. This was the first matchup between Kentucky and Duke with both teams ranked in the Associated Press Poll.

•             1954: No. 1 Kentucky had a heavyweight matchup with No. 2 Utah in their first game of the UKIT. The Wildcats raced out to a five-point lead at halftime over the Utes and never looked back, defeating Utah 70-65. The Wildcats had two players score in double figures, led by Phil Grawemeyer's 27 points.

•             1956: No. 7 Kentucky was in a battle with No. 4 SMU in the UKIT, trailing the Mustangs by five points at halftime. But the Wildcats completed the comeback, outscoring SMU 36-25 in the second half for the 73-67 upset victory. The Wildcats were dominant on the glass, resulting in a plus-23 rebounding margin in the game. Five of the six players who saw action in the game for Kentucky scored in double figures, led by Gerry Calvert's 22 points. The Wildcats were also led by a trio of double-double performers, Ed Beck (14 points and 17 rebounds), Johnny Cox (14 points and 14 rebounds), and John Crigler (12 points and 13 rebounds).

•             1957: No. 5 Kentucky, losing in their opening game of the UKIT, took out its frustrations against No. 10 Minnesota in their UKIT consolation matchup. The Wildcats had a 13-point lead at halftime and cruised to a 78-58 victory over the Golden Gophers in a battle of top-10 teams. Vernon Hatton led Kentucky on offense with 21 points, while Johnny Cox led the defense with 21 rebounds.

•             2002: No. 16 Kentucky was aided by the emotional antics of opposing head coach Mike Davis in a 70-64 upset victory over No. 6 Indiana at Freedom Hall. With the Wildcats clinging to a one-point lead with just seconds left in the game, Davis ran onto the court during a play in which he thought one of his players was fouled. The referee gave Davis two technical fouls and he was ejected from the game. Senior guard Keith Bogans calmly sank five of his six free throws to seal the victory for the Wildcats. As a result of those free throws Bogans led the team in scoring with 17 points.

•             2009: No. 3 Kentucky had no problems with Drexel at Rupp Arena, taking a 36-point lead into the locker room at halftime en route to their doubling up of the Dragons, 88-44. This was a milestone win for the Wildcats as they became the first Division I men's basketball program to reach 2,000 wins. DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson tied for the team lead in scoring, chipping in 18 points apiece.

Dec. 22

•             1953: No. 2 Kentucky, with a five-point lead against No. 16 LaSalle at halftime, outscored the Explorers 41-33 in the final 20 minutes to secure the 73-60 victory in the UKIT Championship. The Wildcats had three players score in double figures, led by Cliff Hagan's 28 points.

•             1954: No. 1 Kentucky, in a rematch of the previous season's UKIT Championship with No. 4 LaSalle, prevailed yet again with a 63-54 victory over the Explorers. Billy Evans led the Wildcats in scoring with 20 points.

•             1956: No. 7 Kentucky, with a six-point lead at the half against No. 5 Illinois, extended its lead in the final 20 minutes by outscoring the Fighting Illini 51-36 for the 91-70 upset victory in the UKIT Championship. Junior guard Vernon Hatton led the Wildcats in scoring with 25 points.

•             1962: No. 9 Kentucky, trailing No. 7 West Virginia by five points at halftime, outscored the Mountaineers 50-41 in the second half to secure the 79-75 upset victory for the Wildcats in the UKIT Championship. Kentucky was led by the duo of Cotton Nash and Roy Roberts, who combined to score 49 points and pull down 29 rebounds.

•             1979: No. 3 Kentucky, trailing No. 9 Purdue by four points at halftime, outscored the Boilermakers 36-31 in the second half to squeak out a 61-60 victory in the UKIT Championship in a battle of Top 10 teams. Kentucky was led by a pair of 18-point scorers, Fred Cowan and Kyle Macy.

Dec. 23

•             1950: No. 1 Kentucky, deadlocked in a tie at the half against No. 13 St. John's, pulled away from the Red Storm in the second half to prevail with a 43-37 victory at Old Madison Square Garden. Junior center Bill Spivey led the Wildcats in scoring with 15 points.

•             1961: Kentucky, with the help of 30 made free throws, upset No. 4 Kansas State 80-67 in the UKIT Championship. The Wildcats' defense also aided in the victory, holding Kansas State to 31.6-percent shooting from the field. Larry Pursiful led Kentucky in scoring with 26 points, while Roy Roberts recorded a double-double with 11 points and 16 rebounds.

•             1974: No. 18 Kansas couldn't keep up with No. 20 Kentucky in the second half, with the Wildcats outscoring the Jayhawks 58-34 in the final 20 minutes to secure the 100-63 upset victory at Freedom Hall. Kentucky was aided by their hot shooting, 55.4 percent from the field. Kevin Grevey led the Wildcats in scoring with 29 points.

•             1978: No. 11 Kentucky took a commanding 15-point lead into the half against No. 8 Syracuse and never looked back, upsetting the Orange 94-87 in the UKIT consolation game. The Wildcats had five players score in double figures, led by Chuck Aleksinas' 20 points.

•             1993: No. 5 Kentucky and No. 13 Arizona were in a battle in the Maui Invitational championship game that went down to literally the final second. Khalid Reeves made two free throws to give Arizona a one-point lead with 5.5 seconds left. Rodrick Rhodes attempted a three-point field goal in the final seconds that was off the mark, but Jeff Brassow was at the right place at the right time as he tipped in the miss at the buzzer for the thrilling 93-92 victory for the Wildcats. Kentucky was led in scoring by Travis Ford's 25 points.

•             1995: No. 4 Kentucky used their suffocating defense to force No. 25 Louisville into 23 turnovers in the Wildcats' 89-66 blowout victory over their intrastate rival. Kentucky had four players who scored in double figures, led by Tony Delk's 30 points.

•             1999: Kentucky trailed No. 5 Michigan State by one point at halftime at Rupp Arena and used the home-court advantage to outscore the Spartans 33-30 in the second half for the 60-58 upset victory. The Wildcats were led by Jamaal Magloire, who recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Dec. 24

•             1983: No. 2 Kentucky, trailing Illinois by seven points at halftime, outscored the Fighting Illini 30-21 to avoid the upset and prevail with a 56-54 victory. Due to extremely bad weather in Champaign, Ill., the assigned referees could not make it to the game on time. As a result, local referees were pulled out from the stands to officiate the game. Kentucky was led on offense by a pair of 11-point scorers, Sam Bowie and Jim Master. This is the only game that the Wildcats have ever played on Christmas Eve.

Dec. 25

•             Kentucky has never played on Christmas Day

Dec. 26

•             1951: No. 1 Kentucky dominated No. 18 UCLA in the second half, outscoring the Bruins 45-23 in the final 20 minutes in the Wildcats' 84-53 blowout victory at Memorial Coliseum. Junior center Cliff Hagan was spectacular for Kentucky, scoring 34 points. This was the first game for Kentucky against legendary coach John Wooden.