Mark Story: Few rivalries as meaningful as UK-UofL

Few non-tournament games mean as much as Cats-Cards

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistJanuary 3, 2012 

  • Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday
    Where: LP Field in Nashville
    TV: ESPNews
    Radio: WBUL-FM 98.1; WLAP-AM 630; WWRW-FM 105.5

Fast-break points from The Rehash:

21. The lack of importance of rivalry games. Kentucky Coach John Calipari had a valid point in his post-game radio show Saturday when he noted that the outcome of a rivalry game — even one as intense as Kentucky-Louisville — does not a season determine.

20. 1985-86 Louisville Cardinals. Lost to Kentucky in Rupp Arena — but went on to claim the 1986 NCAA championship.

19. 1997-98 Kentucky Wildcats. Somehow lost in Rupp Arena to a horrid Louisville team that went on to finish the season 8-20 — but went on to claim the 1998 NCAA championship.

18. Why rivalry games do matter. A rivalry — especially one as intense as Kentucky-Louisville — IS more important than any other regular-season contest and there's nothing wrong with embracing that.

17. Just means more. Harvey Updyke told me you can take a good rivalry (way) too far, but matchups between foes with long shared histories (Celtics-Lakers, Red Sox-Yankees, Duke-North Carolina) are darned close to the best thing about sports.

16. The problem with college basketball. Is that the outcomes of games other than NCAA Tournament contests don't really have significance.

15. Why rivalries are especially important in college hoops. So if the white-hot crackle of the UK-U of L series — turbocharged in recent years by the Calipari-Rick Pitino mutual antipathy society — makes for a regular-season college hoops game whose outcome really matters, it's good for a sport that needs way more of those.

14. Cats rule the roost. With its 69-62 win over Louisville Saturday, UK leads the modern series with U of L (starting with the 1983 Dream Game) 20-11.

13. Modern UK coaching records against U of L: Joe B. Hall 2-2; Eddie Sutton 3-1; Rick Pitino 6-2; Tubby Smith 6-4; Billy Gillispie 0-2; John Calipari 3-0.

12. Modern U of L coaching records against UK: Denny Crum 7-13; Rick Pitino 4-7.

11. Russ Smith. The crafty little Louisville guard on what it felt like to light up UK for 30 points in Rupp: "A great feeling, probably the best feeling an individual can have. At the end of the day, it would have been even better if we had silenced the whole UK Big Blue Nation if we had won."

10. Cats did something rare: According to research from ESPN, Kentucky on Saturday became the fourth men's college hoops team in the past 10 seasons to win a game in which it shot less than 30 percent from the floor (29.8) and committed more than 20 turnovers (21).

9. National Anthem rocked. Saturday's Star-Spangled Banner, which saw UK music professor Everett McCorvey get the Rupp Arena crowd to sing the song en masse, was one of the coolest I've seen at any sporting event.

8. Dakota Meyer. Having the Medal of Honor winner do the 'Y' in the spelling of 'Kentucky' at our state's marquee college hoops game was also a winning touch.

7. Tom Jurich coaching hires. In the three most visible sports, coaches hired by the U of L AD are 20-17 against UK (8-6 in football; 4-7 in men's basketball; 8-4 in women's hoops).

6. Mitch Barnhart coaching hires. In the three most visible sports, coaches hired by the UK AD are 10-13 against U of L (4-5 in football; 3-2 in men's basketball; 3-6 in women's hoops).

5. Terrence Jones. Since halftime of the North Carolina game, the UK forward has shot 7-of-28 from the floor, 0-of-5 on three-pointers and is 1-of-8 from the foul line.

4. Cats-Cards rematch? Takes this for what it's worth (which is nothing), but ESPN.com's most recent NCAA Tournament bracketology has Kentucky seeded No. 1 in the Midwest and Louisville seeded second in the same region.

3. Anthony Davis. The UK freshman sounded A-OK Saturday with thoughts of a U of L rematch in the Dance. "I wouldn't mind playing another game," Davis said of U of L. "This was awesome."

2. Josh Harrellson, New Year's Eve, 2010: The blue-collar big man had 23 points and 14 rebounds to spark a Kentucky win over Louisville in the KFC Yum Center.

1. Josh Harrellson, New Year's Eve, 2011: The blue-collar big man made his first NBA start (in place of an injured Amare Stoudemire) and had 14 points and 12 rebounds in a New York Knicks road victory over Sacramento.

Nice personal tradition Josh has going, annually sending out the old year with a ''double-double on the rocks."

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