My favorite UK/Duke memory
Out of all the rivalries that Kentucky basketball has, there may not be one more special than the UK/Duke rivalry. The two rarely play each other, but every game between the two has been memorable for one reason or another. Of course you have the ’78 championship game, the ’66 Final Four, and obviously the ’92 and ’98 Elite 8 games between the two, but you also have the ’01 Jimmy V Classic game with memorable stars like Rashad ‘Dawg’ Carruth. For me though, it doesn’t get any more special than the ’98 game.
I remember being a little kid, watching the Cats take in Duke, and obviously there was a lot of hype coming in to the game. It was Tubby’s first year here, the Cats had already kind of earned the “Comeback Cats” title, but had not really cemented it. Duke’s team was allegedly one of the best teams they had ever had, and was one of the heavy favorites to take home the title that year.
Duke was led by guys who are actually still in the NBA, Elton Brand, Shane Battier, and other players like Trajan Langdon, Roshown McLeod, and Steve Wojcieowski (or however you spell it).
The problem for me that night was, well, let me tell you a little bit about my parents. My parents were very religious, and that game fell on a Sunday. Maybe you can see where I”m going. We left before half time that night to go to church, and at the time, Kentucky was trailing by 17.
I was crushed and demoralized. I took UK games way too seriously even back then, and the whole night through church I couldn’t concentrate on anything else but what went wrong, and why did the Cats have to lose to Duke of all teams.
There was a man at my church though who kept getting up every couple of minutes to go outside and check out the game. I noticed towards the end of the service he was staying outside a few more minutes each time before coming back. I didn’t think much of it though, how could UK have come back? They looked horrible when I was watching, and Duke had such a great team. Could it be possible?
I held out little hope as church ended, and I walked to the back, where the man was standing in the back shaking hands with people as they walked by. He had a huge smile on his face, so I had to ask him, “Who won?”
“Kentucky,” he said.
I was stunned. There was no way they could have possibly pulled it off, could they? I grabbed my parents keys and ran out to the car to turn on the radio. Surely enough there was celebration on the radio as the news was relayed loudly over the airways, “Kentucky wins, 86-84.” I was almost in tears.
Afterwards, I watched the game on tape and cheered loudly after every three. To this day, I still get goosebumps watching Scott Padgett’s 3 drop, and him turn around in celebration. I still get a little teary eyed watching Cameron Mills 3 drop as well. Not to mention just how huge both Heshimu Evans and Jeff Shepard were in that game, because they are a little overshadowed by those two shots. And who could forget Jamaal Magloire nearly breaking Wojo in half?
That’s my favorite game of the rivalry, what’s yours?
Go Big Blue!
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