Mark Story

Predicting when the Kentucky-Indiana basketball rivalry will resume

Fast-break points from the Brooklyn fiesta:

21. Kentucky-Indiana. The dormant basketball rivalry between border-state rivals UK and IU — who last met in a regular-season game during the 2011-12 season — came up on last week’s SEC coaches’ summer basketball teleconference.

20. John Calipari. The Wildcats’ coach threw cold water on any hope of a resumption of what was once the country’s best non-conference men’s college hoops rivalry. “I’m not sure, in the next four to five years, even talking about it, does anything,” Calipari said of a UK-IU series renewal. “… I don’t see it happening anytime in the near future.”

19. The rivalry resumption point. By now, it should be obvious that there will be no Wildcats-Hoosiers rivalry revival until the next UK head coach comes on board.

18. Indiana mediocrity. Having gone 19-16 in 2018-19, the Hoosiers have now endured 20 double-digit loss men’s hoops seasons in the past 25 years. Suffice to say, that does not hold up very well against what should be IU’s basketball peer group.

Archie Miller
Counting this season’s 19-16 mark under second-year head coach Archie Miller, Indiana has had double-digit losses 20 times in the past 25 seasons. Jeremy Hogan AP

17. Louisville. Since 1994-95, U of L has had 15 double-digit loss seasons — seven under Rick Pitino, six under Denny Crum and one each under David Padgett and Chris Mack.

16. UCLA. The Bruins have 13 seasons with 10 defeats or more in the past 25 years.

15. North Carolina. UNC has 11 double-digit loss years since 1994-95.

14. Michigan State. The Spartans have lost 10 or more games 10 times in the past 25 seasons.

13. Kentucky. UK also has 10 double-digit defeat campaigns since 1994-95 — five under Tubby Smith, three under John Calipari and two under Billy Gillispie.

12. Kansas. Over the past 25 men’s basketball seasons, the Jayhawks have lost 10 games or more four times.

11. Duke. Since 1994-95, the Men of Krzyzewski have also had only four years with double-digit defeats.

10. Indiana’s task. Those of us who believe the universities of Kentucky and Indiana — as the “state schools” of hoops-mad bordering states — should play basketball each year would have a lot more ammunition to bring to the argument if the Hoosiers could ever get their act together.

9. D’Angelo Russell. After the Louisville native enjoyed a breakout season with the Brooklyn Nets, it is being reported that the former Central High School guard will get a four-year, $117 million contract from the Golden State Warriors as part of a sign-and-trade deal.

2 Heat vs Nets DS
Former Central High School guard D'Angelo Russell (1) averaged NBA career highs last season in scoring (21.1 points), assists (7.0), field-goal shooting percentage (43.4) and three-point percentage (36.9) while leading the Brooklyn Nets to the playoffs. David Santiago

8. State history? Has any professional athlete in any sport who is actually from the commonwealth of Kentucky ever signed a larger contract?

7. Brooklyn shines. The decisions by NBA megastars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to take their talents to Brooklyn has to be the best sports moment for the borough since Game 7 of the 1955 World Series when the then-Brookyn Dodgers scored a 2-0 victory over the New York Yankees to give the Dodgers franchise the only world championship it would win in Brooklyn.

6. Kentucky connection. The final out in that historic Brooklyn Dodgers victory came after Kentuckian Pee Wee Reese fielded a ground ball at shortstop off the bat of the Yankees’ Elston Howard and threw him out.

5. Kentucky tops Louisville. The University of Kentucky finished 14th in the final Learfield Directors’ Cup standings, a measure of the all-around performance of college athletics departments. Louisville finished 35th.

Mitch Barnhart at Kroger Field
Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart oversaw an athletics department that finished 14th in the 2018-19 Directors' Cup standings, the third-best finish in UK history. Matt Goins

4. Strong in NAIA. There were two Kentucky schools in the top 10 of the Directors’ Cup standings for NAIA, with Lindsey Wilson finishing third and Cumberlands seventh. Union (37th) and Campbellsville (41st) also turned in good showings.

3. Transy on top. In the Directors’ Cup standings for NCAA Division III, Transylvania finished 49th to lead Kentucky schools; Centre was 62nd and Thomas More 92nd.

2. Eight straight. UK has now finished ahead of U of L in the Directors’ Cup standings eight school years in a row. The most recent time Louisville topped Kentucky was 2010-11, when the Cardinals finished 34th to the Wildcats’ 36th.

1. UK strength. Given that Kentucky stood sixth in the 2018-19 Directors’ Cup standings at the end of the winter sports season, it seemed more was possible for UK this year than a 14th.

It is a sign of how strong an all-around athletics department the University of Kentucky has built that finishing 14th in the Directors’ Cup — the third-best finish in school history (10th in 2016-17; 11th in 2013-14) — felt like a bit of a let down.

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Mark Story has worked in the Lexington Herald-Leader sports department since Aug. 27, 1990, and has been a Herald-Leader sports columnist since 2001. I have covered every Kentucky-Louisville football game since 1994, every UK-U of L basketball game but three since 1996-97 and every Kentucky Derby since 1994.