This Week in Kentucky Basketball History: Senior Day 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.
• 1933: Kentucky was too much for Mississippi State to handle, leading the Bulldogs by 22 points at halftime and cruising in the second half to a 46-27 victory in the first ever SEC Tournament Championship game, held in Atlanta. John DeMoisey and Forest Sale for Kentucky outscored Mississippi State by themselves, 31-27.
• 1942: Kentucky and Alabama were in a back-and-forth battle the entire contest, with neither team being able to take control of the game. The Wildcats, clinging to a slim one-point lead at halftime, found a way to hang on in the final 20 minutes to squeak by the Crimson Tide 36-34 for the SEC Tournament Championship, held in Louisville. Kentucky's performance from the charity stripe aided in the victory, making 92.3 percent of their free-throw attempts. Kenneth England was the only Kentucky player to score in double figures, scoring a career-high 13 points.
• 1955: No. 2 Kentucky raced out to a 10-point lead at halftime against No. 12 Alabama and never looked back, defeating the Crimson Tide 66-52 at Memorial Coliseum. John Brewer, Bob Burrow, and Gayle Rose outscored Alabama by themselves, 53-52.
• 1970: No. 1 Kentucky, leading Vanderbilt by a comfortable 13-point margin at halftime, had to hang on in the second half to squeak by the Commodores 90-86 at Memorial Coliseum. Although the contest was of no major significance, one particular point was. Senior Dan Issel scored 31 points, but his 28th point was historical. Issel became the first player in school history to score 2,000 points in a career with his 28th point of the game.
• 1985: Kentucky dominated Tennessee on the glass, resulting in a plus-20 rebounding margin that propelled the Wildcats to a convincing 92-67 victory over the Volunteers on Senior Day at Rupp Arena. The Wildcats also had a great shooting performance, making 55.2-percent of their field-goal attempts. Four Kentucky players scored in double figures, led by Kenny Walker's 33 points, while Roger Harden dished out 12 assists. This was the last game at Rupp Arena for head coach Joe B. Hall.
• 1988: No. 12 Kentucky, trailing No. 10 Syracuse by two points at halftime, outscored the Orange 32-26 in the second half to complete the comeback victory at Rupp Arena, 62-58. The difference in the game was turnovers, where Kentucky committed just eight turnovers, while forcing Syracuse into 17 turnovers. The Wildcats were balanced on offense, with four players scoring in double figures, led by Winston Bennett's 15 points.
• 1998: No. 7 Kentucky used suffocating defense to limit No. 14 South Carolina to just 38.5-percent shooting from the field in the Wildcats' 69-57 victory over the Gamecocks in Columbia. Kentucky also imposed its will on the glass, resulting in a plus-11 rebounding margin. Senior Jeff Sheppard led the Wildcats in scoring with 24 points, while Heshimu Evans recorded a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
• 2015: No. 1 Kentucky almost ran No. 18 Arkansas out of the gym, leading the Razorbacks by as many as 31 points in the second half in the Wildcats' convincing 84-67 victory at Rupp Arena. Kentucky's defense was the key, limiting Arkansas to shoot just 37.5 percent from the field.
• 1964: No. 2 Kentucky overcame a terrible shooting performance, making just 34.3 percent of its field-goal attempts, to defeat Tennessee 42-38 in Knoxville in a battle of border rivals. The Wildcats overcame the poor performance by playing great defense, limiting the Volunteers to make just 32.6-percent shooting. Tommy Kron was the only Kentucky player to score in double figures, leading the team with 17 points.
• 1921: Kentucky went back and forth with Georgia the entire game, clinging to a one-point lead at halftime, and escaped Atlanta with a slim 20-19 victory over the Bulldogs in the SIAA Tournament Championship game. William King led Kentucky in scoring with 11 points. This was Kentucky's first conference tournament title.
• 1981: No. 9 Kentucky and No. 2 LSU squared off in Rupp Arena on the final day of the regular season in one of the most hyped matchups in the young history of the Wildcats' new home court. The Tigers came into the game undefeated in SEC play with a perfect 17-0 record, trying to become the first team since Alabama in 1955-1956 to complete an SEC regular season unbeaten. Rupp Arena was jam-packed, with a then-record crowd of 24,011 fans in attendance to watch an epic battle. The Wildcats got the best of the Tigers in the first half, resulting in a six-point at the break. LSU put up a good fight in the second half, but Kentucky held on to upset the Tigers 73-71 and ruin their perfect conference season. Kentucky relied on unselfish play on offense to get the win, assisting on 21 of its 29 made field goals. The Wildcats' unselfish play was also shown by five players scoring either 10 or 11 points, with four players scoring 11 points (Sam Bowie, Dirk Minniefield, Melvin Turpin and Chuck Verderber).
• 1987: Kentucky overcame a poor shooting performance, making just 39.4 percent of its field-goal attempts, by making five more 3-point field goals than No. 12 Oklahoma in the Wildcats' 75-74 upset victory over the Sooners at Rupp Arena. The Wildcats also provided the difference at the charity stripe, making twice the amount of free throws as Oklahoma (12-6). Three players scored in double figures for Kentucky, led by Ed Davender's 21 points.
• 2006: Kentucky, trailing No. 11 Tennessee by seven points at halftime in a hostile environment in Knoxville, outscored the Volunteers 42-33 in the second half to complete the upset victory in comeback fashion, 80-78. The Wildcats were able to get the win with their hot shooting, making an astounding 60.4 percent of their field-goal attempts. Kentucky had three players score in double figures, led by Randolph Morris' 22 points.
• 2011: No. 20 Kentucky raced out to a commanding 11-point lead at halftime over No. 21 Vanderbilt, but had to hold on in the final 20 minutes to squeak by the Commodores 68-66 at Rupp Arena. The Wildcats showed their size advantage on the glass, resulting in a plus-11 rebounding margin over the Commodores. Three players scored in double figures for Kentucky, led by Brandon Knight's 17 points.
• 1979: Kentucky took advantage of No. 8 LSU's physical play, making 26 of its 34 free-throw attempts, to upset the Tigers 80-67 in the SEC Tournament semifinals in Birmingham. The Wildcats' impressive shooting performance, making 54-percent of their field-goal attempts, helped in their upset win. Three players scored in double figures, led by Kyle Macy's 29 points.
• 1988: No. 8 Kentucky had an all-around great shooting performance, making 58.3-percent of their field-goal attempts and 80.8-percent of their free-throw attempts, to propel the Wildcats to an 80-72 victory over Georgia at Rupp Arena on Senior Day. But this game is mostly known by the Senior Day festivities than the game itself. A. B. "Happy" Chandler, former Kentucky governor and at 90 years old, sang the traditional song "My Old Kentucky Home" to celebrate the last home game for the seniors on the team. Chandler's performance was so well done that the team's five seniors - Winston Bennett, Ed Davender, Cedric Jenkins, Robert Lock and Richard Madison - were all brought to tears.
• 1994: No. 7 Kentucky used its trademark pressure defense, forcing No. 19 Florida into 21 turnovers, to erase a 19-point first half deficit to complete a dramatic 80-77 comeback victory for the Wildcats on Senior Day at Rupp Arena. Four players scored in double figures for Kentucky, led by a pair of 18-point scorers, Tony Delk and Rodrick Rhodes.
• 2002: No. 11 Kentucky and No. 8 Florida played pretty evenly throughout the game, but it took a clutch shot by a sophomore to seal the victory for the Wildcats. With the Gators leading 67-65 and less than a minute remaining, Kentucky used senior Tayshaun Prince as a decoy so that Gerald Fitch could come off a curl screen to knock down a three-point shot with 33 seconds left to take the lead for good for the Wildcats. Prince led the team with 13 points in his final home game as a Wildcat.
• 2003: No. 2 Kentucky dominated No. 21 Georgia on the glass, resulting in a plus-18 rebounding margin, as the Wildcats gutted out a tough 74-66 victory over the Bulldogs in Athens. The Wildcats also took advantage of Georgia's physical play by making 28 of their 38 free-throw attempts. Four players scored in double figures for Kentucky, led by Marquis Estill's 16 points.
• 2015: With No. 1 Kentucky trailing Georgia by nine points with only nine minutes remaining in the game, the Wildcats mounted a furious comeback, outscoring the Bulldogs 25-8 to complete their 72-64 come-from-behind victory in Athens. Kentucky made twice the amount of free throws as Georgia, 18-9, to help the Wildcats in their comeback. Three Wildcats scored in double figures, led by freshman Karl-Anthony Towns' 19 points.
• 1995: No. 5 Kentucky had one of its most impressive offensive performances on Senior Day, blowing out the visiting LSU Tigers 127-80 at Rupp Arena. The most impressive part of the Wildcats' offensive explosion was the fact that they shot better on 3-point field goals (57.1 percent) than they did on 2-point field goals (56.8 percent). Kentucky's great shooting from behind the arc resulted in an astounding 20 3-point field goals made. The Wildcats' defense was just as impressive, forcing LSU into 22 turnovers and limiting the Tigers to just 39.4-percent shooting from the field. Six players scored in double figures for Kentucky, led by Tony Delk's 27 points.
• 2000: No. 22 Kentucky jumped on No. 8 Florida early and often in the first half, leading by as many as 26 points, en route to the Wildcats' 85-70 upset victory over the Gators at Rupp Arena on Senior Day. Kentucky relied on defense to get the victory, limiting Florida to shoot 35.8 percent from the field. Sophomore Tayshaun Prince led the Wildcats in scoring, pouring in 19 points.
• 2012: No. 1 Kentucky took great care of the ball on offense in a hostile environment in Gainesville, committing only six turnovers, to defeat the No. 16 Gators 74-59 to complete a perfect SEC regular season. The Wildcats finished with an unblemished 16-0 record in SEC play, their first undefeated SEC regular season since the 2002-2003 season. Freshman sensation Anthony Davis recorded a double-double, leading the team in both points (22) and rebounds (12).
• 1949: No. 1 Kentucky raced out to a commanding 16-point lead at halftime against No. 7 Tulane and cruised in the second half to defeat the Green Wave 68-52 in the SEC Tournament Championship game in Louisville. The biggest difference in the game came at the charity stripe, where the Wildcats made three times as many as free throws as Tulane (18-6). Senior Alex Groza led Kentucky in scoring with 37 points.
• 2003: No. 2 Kentucky had its most dominating Senior Day performance in school history, embarrassing the Vanderbilt Commodores 106-44 at Rupp Arena. The Wildcats dominated Vanderbilt in most statistics, including shooting from the field (52.4 percent to 30.6 percent), rebounding margin (plus-22), and turnovers (plus-14 turnover margin). As a result of the blowout, 13 players scored for Kentucky, led by Erik Daniels' 20 points. This is Kentucky's largest margin of victory ever in a Senior Day game (62 points).