Back on Top!
March 17, 2003
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky finished the season ranked as the No. 1 team in the final Associated Press poll, the news service announced Monday. It marks the first time since 1978 that the Wildcats were ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll. Earlier this season, UK celebrated the 25th anniversary of that national championship team.
"This has been a season of historical marks for this program, and to be voted as the nation's best team in the final poll is quite an honor," said Tubby Smith, who captures his first No. 1 ranking since becoming a head coach. "It really says a lot about these young men and where they were able to come from. No one has ever gone 19-0 against SEC teams. And to play the caliber of competition that we have faced, it's quite an achievement. But these young men deserve it and have earned it."
UK enters the NCAA Tournament with a 29-3 overall record, winning the SEC Championship and the SEC Tournament title. The Cats spent the past four weeks ranked second nationally. Kentucky has had more No. 1 finishes prior to NCAA Tournament play than any other team in the nation. The Cats also topped the final poll in 1949, '51, '52, '54, '66, '70 and '78. The AP began its weekly rankings in 1949.
Kentucky has finished in the AP top 10 more than any other team in college basketball - 36 times in 100 seasons.