Former LSU coach Dale Brown plans to accompany the Tigers on their trip to Kentucky on Saturday. His visit will return the coach with the most career victories against UK to Rupp Arena.
"This is truly an honor considering they were who I wanted us to emulate," Brown wrote in an e-mail. "Doggone, who would have ever thought? Kentucky basketball has always been prodigious in my eyes."
Brown, who coached LSU from 1971-72 through 1996-97, led his teams to 18 victories against Kentucky. The next-most victories over UK by an opposing coach are 15, by Bob Knight of Indiana and Ray Mears of Tennessee.
Other coaches with a double-digit number of victories over Kentucky are Dean Smith of North Carolina (13), Roy Skinner of Vanderbilt (13), Billy Donovan of Florida (12), Don DeVoe of Tennessee (11), Wimp Sanderson of Alabama (11) and C.M. Newton of Alabama and Vanderbilt (10).
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Besides attending the game, Brown said Wednesday that he will use the trip to visit former UK player Tom Payne. Payne, the first African-American basketball player for Kentucky, is imprisoned at the Little Sandy Correctional Complex in Sandy Hook.
Former LSU star Rudy Macklin is also coming with the Tigers on the trip.
Brown, 75, reflected on a quarter-century coaching career at LSU. In the 25 years prior to Brown becoming coach, LSU won 288 games and played in two NCAA Tournaments. In Brown's 25 years, the Tigers won 448 games and played in 13 NCAA Tournaments.
Brown noted that his first contract with LSU called for an annual salary of $20,000, plus an additional $3,000 for doing a radio show and conducting a summer camp.
Brown recalled how coaching colleagues told him he was making an "absolute mistake" by taking the LSU job. "Because it was football country," he said.
To create interest in his basketball program, Brown made home games spectacles. Student mascots descended from the ceiling on ropes. Mike, the live tiger mascot, was wheeled around the court in a cage. He signed a champion arm wrestler to take on all challengers from the stands at halftime.
"I had to have an interest in advertising, marketing and promotions," he said. "People just don't show up. What you have to have is attractions."