Kentucky Basketball History

Kentucky basketball history is a glorious thing. And, new coach John Calipari is leading the Cats back to college basketball heaven.

UK's Perry Stevenson jams a dunk

UK's Perry Stevenson jams a dunk. Thanks to ukathletics for the photo.


Widely considered to be the best men's basketball program in the Southeastern Conference, the University of Kentucky Wildcats are in fact also ranked among the elite programs across the nation. Among all NCAA men's basketball programs, Kentucky ranks #1 all-time with 1,948 career victories (the University of North Carolina is second, with 1,914 career victories). With an all-time record of 1948-608, Kentucky is also #1 all-time in winning percentage, at 0.762

The University of Kentucky's basketball program came into existence in 1910, when E. R. Sweetland signed on as UK's Director of Athletics and its first basketball coach. And while UK tasted its first championship of any kind in 1921, when it upset Tulane, Mercer, Mississippi A & M, and Georgia to win the first Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association basketball championship, it wasn't until the hiring of Adolph Rupp, regarded by many as one of the greatest collegiate basketball coaches of all time, [see Top All-Time SEC Basketball Coach] that UK was elevated to a national level of prominence.



The University of Kentucky has won 7 National Championships in Men's Basketball. The first four, in 1948, 1949, 1951, and 1958, came under the coaching of Rupp. The remaining championships came in 1978, 1996, and most recently, in 1998.

That team, coached by Tubby Smith, earned he nickname the "Comeback Cats", due primarily to their penchant for falling into deep deficits early in games only to rally late, including overcoming double-digit 2nd half deficits in comeback victories in each of the final 3 games of the 1998 NCAA Tournament.

The 1996 Championship team, coached by Rick Pitino, is widely considered to be among the greatest Men's Basketball teams of all time. See Best All-Time SEC Basketball Team.

That team, which became the first team in 40 years to complete SEC conference play undefeated, went 34-2 en route to its victory over Syracuse in the NCAA Championship game.

Kentucky's 1996 basketball team, rated as the best of all time by statistical guru Jeff Sagarin, featured nine future NBA players.

Many former Wildcats have gone on to find success in the NBA. In fact, from 1949-2006, UK ranks sixth nationally with 34 players selected in the first round of the NBA Draft.

Among the former UK stars that went on to NBA success are players such as Dan Issel, Jamal Mashburn, Cliff Hagan, Pat Riley, Rex Chapman, and Frank Ramsey.


UK's college basketball cheerleaders

UK's college basketball cheerleaders. Thanks to ukathletics for the photo.


The University of Kentucky Wildcats are currently coached by John Calipari, and play their home games at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.

Check out these links for your Kentucky Wildcats Merchandise and Apparel, Tickets, and Baseball Caps.




Other Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Pages

Kentucky Basketball History
Kentucky Basketball History
Kentucky Basketball History

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