While having Kentucky basketball and football games scheduled on the same day might seem like an odd occurrence, it’s happened a fair amount.
Dating from the Adolph Rupp/Paul “Bear” Bryant era, Kentucky basketball and football have played on the same date 13 times, including five bowl games.
And Kentucky football had some historic wins on those dates, going 6-7, including 3-2 in bowls. Among them, Kentucky ended a 26-year losing streak to Tennessee and got to celebrate it in Rupp Arena that evening.
On Friday, Kentucky basketball takes on Louisville in Rupp Arena at 1 p.m. Then UK football takes on Northwestern in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl at 4:30 p.m.
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That scenario is great if you’re going to watch them on TV. But for diehards who love to attend games, it’s a quandary. A bowl game might trump a typical early-season basketball matchup, but Louisville ranks a little higher on the Big Blue Nation scale than Vermont or Fort Wayne.
Kentucky basketball, of course, has fared better in the two-fers, going 10-3 in games against mostly pedestrian opponents. Two of those losses, curiously, came at the hands of arch-nemesis Duke.
Five times both teams won. Five times at least one team won, providing some solace. Only twice have both UK football and basketball lost on the same day.
Here’s a look at how Kentucky has fared on doubleheader days:
Nov. 26, 2011
Football won: 10-7 at home against Tennessee. With both quarterbacks Max Smith and Morgan Newton out with injuries, Coach Joker Phillips turned wide receiver Matt Roark into a quarterback for the game and the Cats ended a 26-year losing streak to the Volunteers.
Basketball won: 87-63 blowout over Portland. Football hero Roark came out to a standing ovation as he completed the Kentucky cheer as the “Y” at center court. This was Coach John Calipari’s national title year. He led the news conference talking about the football team.
“That may go down as one of the greatest wins in the history of our athletic department,” Calipari said in saluting Phillips’ football team. “If you have coached, you would say that’s unbelievable.”
Nov. 21, 2009
Football won: 34-27 at Georgia in Coach Rich Brooks’ farewell season. It was UK’s first win in Athens since 1977. The Cats went to their fourth straight bowl under Brooks, a 21-13 loss to Clemson to end the season at 7-6.
Basketball won: 92-63 in Rupp Arena over Rider on its way to a 35-3 season in Calipari’s first season as head coach.
Dec. 31, 2007
Football won: 35-28 over Florida State in the Music City Bowl. The Cats won back-to-back bowl games for the first time since the Paul “Bear” Bryant era behind a senior class led by Andre Woodson and Wesley Woodyard.
Basketball won: 92-49 over Florida International in Rupp Arena. Billy Gillispie’s first season at UK was a rocky 18-13 affair, but the Cats rallied to go 12-4 in SEC play before Marquette ousted them in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Dec. 29, 2006
Football won: 28-20 over Clemson in the Music City Bowl. After losing 49-0 at LSU earlier in the season, UK won five of its last six games including the first bowl victory since 1984.
Basketball won: 78-65 over Eastern Kentucky in Rupp Arena. Coach Tubby Smith’s last season included a solid stretch of games, but the Cats were never ranked higher than No. 20 and exited the NCAA Tournament in the second round.
Dec. 6, 1947
Football won: 24-14 over Villanova in the Great Lakes Bowl in Cleveland. In Bryant’s second season, he led UK to an 8-3 record, including Kentucky’s first bowl win.
Basketball won: 71-22 over Tulsa in Alumni Gym. It was a tough road trip for Tulsa, which played two games against the Cats that week with only a slight improvement. It lost 72-18 a day earlier.
Nov. 14, 2015
Football lost: 21-17 at Vanderbilt, spoiling what could have been a bowl year in Coach Mark Stoops’ third season. UK finished 5-7.
Basketball won: 87-57 at home over NJIT. The Cats exited the NCAA Tournament in the second round that season. Freshman Jamal Murray led UK in scoring with 20 points per game.
Nov. 19, 2011
Football lost: 19-10 at Georgia. Coming off an embarrassing 38-8 loss to Vandy in Nashville, UK put up a better fight in Athens, and likely set up its historic win over Tennessee a week later.
Basketball won: 85-47 in a neutral-site demolition of Penn State.
Nov. 29, 2008
Football lost: 28-10 at Tennessee. But the Cats got some end-of-season redemption with a Liberty Bowl win over East Carolina to finish the season at 7-6.
Basketball won: 54-43 over West Virginia at Rupp Arena. Billy Gillispie’s final UK team was never ranked in the polls and limped to a 22-14 record, including going 8-8 in the SEC and was ousted int he third round of the NIT.
Nov. 24, 1990
Football lost: 42-28 at Tennessee. Kentucky led 21-14 at halftime despite losing starting quarterback Freddie Maggard to an injury, but Tennessee opened the second half with three scores in less than six minutes to thwart the upset bid in Bill Curry’s first season as head coach.
Basketball won: 85-62 over Pennsylvania in Rupp Arena. Coach Rick Pitino’s Cats were still under probation, but vastly improved since he took over a year earlier. The Bombinos went 22-6 overall and 14-4 in SEC play during Jamal Mashburn’s freshman year.
Nov. 17, 1979
Football won: 31-3 at Florida. This is not a typo. Fran Curci’s squad went down to Gainesville and crushed the Gators. UK has beaten Florida only once since.
Basketball lost: 82-76 (OT) to Duke at the Hall of Fame Classic in Springfield, Mass. It was a matchup of No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 Duke in Kyle Macy’s senior season. UK also had a 7-foot-1 freshman named Sam Bowie. The two teams would meet again in the NCAA Tournament Southeast Regional where Duke came out on top again, 55-54.
Jan. 2, 1950
Football lost: 21-13 to Santa Clara in the Orange Bowl. Down 14-7, Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s Cats had a chance to tie in the fourth quarter, but the point-after missed and Santa Clara got an insurance touchdown late. It was UK’s only bowl loss under Bryant (3-1).
Basketball won: 57-53 over Arkansas in Little Rock, Ark. The Cats were led by Bill Spivey’s 19.3 points per game in this “off” year between UK’s second and third national championships.
Jan. 8, 2011
Football lost: 27-10 to Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., in a disappointing sendoff for Kentucky great Randall Cobb.
Basketball lost: 77-70 at Georgia as a freshman-dominated team led by Brandon Knight had trouble finding its stride. After going 10-6 in SEC play, these Cats made it to the Final Four.
Nov. 19, 1988
Football lost: 28-24 at Tennessee. The Cats fell behind 14-0 early and couldn’t close, marking the fourth straight year a Tennessee loss ended UK’s season with a losing record.
Basketball lost: 80-55 to No. 1 Duke in Coach Eddie Sutton’s catastrophic final season. The scrappy Cats trailed only 39-37 at halftime before poor shooting and turnovers helped the Blue Devils to a rout in Springfield, Mass. Danny Ferry led Duke with 23 points.