"We are expected to win — but I wouldn't want to be at a school where people didn't care,'' Coach Joe B. Hall said during the 1978 season.
Indeed, this was a season in which much was expected from the Wildcats. They were ranked No. 1 in the country almost from the beginning of the season, and nothing short of a national championship would satisfy the UK faithful.
Led by the seniors who had been to San Diego as freshmen in 1975 (Jack Givens, James Lee, Rick Robey and Mike Phillips), the Wildcats gave their fans what they wanted — a national title.
Kentucky defeated Florida State (85-76), Miami (Ohio) (91-69) and Magic Johnson-led Michigan State (52-49) to win the Mideast Regional.
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In the Final Four in St. Louis, businesslike Kentucky defeated Arkansas and Coach Eddie Sutton 64-59 in the semifinals. In the finals, Kentucky faced a young, exuberant Duke team that had beaten Notre Dame 90-86 to advance a game before. It was Kentucky that left St. Louis all smiles, however. As Givens scored 41 points, the Wildcats ended Duke's dream, 94-88, to win their fifth national title.
Herald-Leader staff report