UK Men's Basketball

UK just lost its third basketball game in a row. How rare is that for the Cats?

John Calipari is in his ninth season as the head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, and — for the first time during that tenure — his Wildcats have lost three consecutive games.

UK fell at Texas A&M on Saturday night, a defeat that followed Tuesday night’s home loss to Tennessee and a loss at Missouri last weekend. Such a skid is rare for the Wildcats’ program.

How rare?

It happened three different times in Billy Gillispie’s two tumultuous seasons as UK’s head coach, but only four times in the 17 seasons before that and only seven times from 1979 to 2007.

Calipari lasted the longest of any UK coach before going through his first three-game skid. Saturday night’s defeat also ended the third-longest span in program history without a three-game losing streak. Adolph Rupp went nearly 22 years without one, and the Cats didn’t lose three in a row for nearly 10 years under Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith.

Billy
Billy Gillispie had a 40-27 record in two seasons at Kentucky. Mark Cornelison Herald-Leader

It’s also been nearly 13 years since a Calipari-coached team lost three in a row. In addition to eight full seasons without such a skid to start his UK tenure, Calipari didn’t lose three straight games in any of his final four seasons at Memphis.

Things won’t get any easier for the Cats, who must travel to SEC-leading Auburn on Wednesday night. A home game against Alabama, a road game at Arkansas, and a home rematch with Missouri follow that one.

Kentucky went almost 20 years (from Pitino’s first season to Gillispie’s first season) without losing four straight games. It’s happened only six times since Rupp took over the program in 1930, twice under Gillispie, once under Pitino, once under Eddie Sutton and twice under Joe B. Hall.

Rupp, Smith and, for now, Calipari are the only three UK coaches without a four-game losing streak.

Here’s a complete history of UK’s three-game losing skids:

John Calipari (2009-present)

Three-game losing streaks: One

2017-18: at Missouri, vs. Tennessee, at Texas A&M.

Note: Before this season, Calipari had only eight two-game losing streaks in eight seasons as UK’s coach, and four of those came during the 2012-13 NIT season (and three of those came after Nerlens Noel was injured). This is the only other UK team in Calipari’s tenure that has lost two or more consecutive games more than once.

Billy Gillispie (2007-2009)

Three-game losing streaks: Three

2008-09 (twice): at South Carolina, vs. Louisiana State, vs. Georgia, at Florida;

at Mississippi, vs. South Carolina, vs. Mississippi State.

Team finish: 22-14 (lost in NIT)

2007-08: vs. North Carolina, at Indiana, vs. UAB*, at Houston.

Team finish: 18-13 (lost in first round of NCAA Tournament)

Tubby Smith (1997-2007)

Three-game losing streaks: Four

2006-07: vs. Florida, at Tennessee, at Alabama.

Team finish: 22-12 (lost in second round of NCAA Tournament)

2005-06 (twice): at Kansas, vs. Vanderbilt, vs. Alabama;

vs. Florida, at Tennessee, vs. Vanderbilt.

Team finish: 22-13 (lost in second round of NCAA Tournament)

1999-2000: vs. Arizona*, vs. Dayton*, vs. Indiana*.

Team finish: 23-10 (lost in second round of NCAA Tournament)

Rick Pitino (1989-1997)

Three-game losing streaks: One

1989-90: vs. SW Louisiana, vs. North Carolina*, Louisville, at Georgia, at Vanderbilt.

Team finish: 14-14 (banned from postseason)

Note: This was the last five-game losing streak at Kentucky.

Eddie Sutton (1985-89)

Three-game losing streaks: One

1988-89: at Georgia, at Vanderbilt, vs. Florida, at LSU, vs. Alabama, at Auburn.

Team finish: 13-19 (no postseason)

Note: The was the last and only six-game losing streak at Kentucky.

Joe B. Hall (1972-85)

Three-game losing streaks: Eight

1984-85 (twice): at Purdue, vs. SMU, at Indiana, at Louisville;

vs. Florida, at Georgia, at Tennessee.

Team finish: 18-13 (lost in Sweet Sixteen of NCAA Tournament)

1978-79: vs. Alabama, at Mississippi State, at Tennessee.

Team finish: 19-12 (lost in first round of NIT)

1975-76 (twice): at Mississippi State, at Alabama, vs. Tennessee;

at Tennessee, at Georgia, at Vanderbilt.

Team finish: 20-10 (won NIT title)

1973-74 (twice): at Kansas, vs. Indiana*, vs. North Carolina*;

at Mississippi, vs. Alabama, vs. Florida, at Vanderbilt.

Team finish: 13-13 (no postseason)

1972-73: vs. Iowa, at Indiana, vs. North Carolina*.

Team finish: 20-8 (lost in regional finals of NCAA Tournament)

Adolph Rupp (1930-72)

Three-game losing streaks: Eight

1966-67 (twice): vs. Vanderbilt, at Florida, at Georgia;

at Alabama, at Auburn, at Vanderbilt.

Team finish: 13-13 (no postseason)

1964-65 (twice): vs. Illinois, at Saint Louis, vs. Notre Dame*;

at Vanderbilt, at Auburn, at Alabama.

Team finish: 15-10 (no postseason)

1963-64: vs. Saint Louis, vs. Ohio*, vs. Loyola (Ill.)*.

Team finish: 21-6 (lost in regional semifinals of NCAA Tournament)

Note: These three losses ended the season and the final defeat came in the consolation game of the Mideast Regional.

1960-61: at Vanderbilt, at LSU, at Tulane.

Team finish: 19-9 (lost in regional finals of NCAA Tournament)

1938-39: vs. Notre Dame*, vs. Tennessee, vs. Alabama*.

Team finish: 16-4 (won SEC Tournament)

1937-38: at Michigan State, at Detroit, at Notre Dame.

Team finish: 13-5 (lost in first round of SEC Tournament)

*-Neutral site games

 

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