With Saturday's game between top-ranked Kentucky and Indiana the biggest game in the border rivalry in years and the possibility that the series may discontinue looming large, CatsPause.com's Chris Fisher and Jeff Drummond count down the top five games in the rivalries' storied history from the Big Blue perspective.
The game program for UK's 1991 game against IU at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis.
UK leads the all-time series 31-23 but the Cats have won 14 of the last 17 by an average of 14.5 points.
5. 1991: (14) UK 76, (9) IU 74
Dec. 7, 1991 – Indianapolis, IN
After two close losses to Indiana by a combined five points, UK finally broke through and gave Rick Pitino his first win of the series with a 76-74 win at the Dome Formerly Known As Hoosier in Indianapolis. The atmosphere that day was absolutely electric, and in many ways, the hotly-contested game helped signal that the Cats were truly on their way back to national prominence.
Jamal Mashburn led the way with 21 points and eight rebounds while Deron Feldhaus scored 19 on 5 of 8 shooting beyond the arc.
The Cats managed to overcome a 40-14 margin in free throw attempts heavily favoring the Hoosiers by hitting on 11 of 23 treys. Indiana was 0-for-5 from behind the arc.
4. 1979: (5) UK 69, (1) IU 58
Dec. 15, 1979 – Lexington, KY
In mid-December of 1979, future NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas invaded Rupp Arena with the No. 1 team in the country and was handed a 69-58 defeat at the hands of the No. 5 Wildcats.
Kyle Macy scored 12 points while "The Blonde Bomber," Jay Shidler, and Lavon Williams each added 11. The Cats held IU to just 17 of 49 shooting (34.6 percent) and hammered the Hoosiers on the glass 42-29 with Fred Cowan pulling down 11 boards.
Thomas scored 14 but IU's Randy Wittman managed just one point in 22 minutes.
3. 1993: (3) UK 81, (4) IU 78
Jan. 3, 1993 – Louisville, KY
In a matchup of top-five teams, the Cats and the Hoosiers treated the Freedom Hall crowd -- painted half blue and half red directly down the middle -- to a heavyweight slugfest between two college basketball powerhouses.
In a vintage Rick Pitino-era performance, UK connected on 16 of 41 three-pointers as Jamal Mashburn's and Travis Ford's 29 points were canceled out by Calbert Cheaney and Matt Nover's 29-point games.
In the closing minutes, Rodrick Rhodes helped hold Cheaney without a field goal over the final six minutes and UK got some clutch 3-point shooting from Ford down the stretch as the Cats helped deny Bob Knight his 600th career victory.
2. 1987 Big 4 Classic: (2) UK 82, (5) IU 76 OT
Dec. 5, 1987 – Indianapolis, IN
In the inaugural game of the Big 4 Classic, an annual double-header pitting UK, IU, Louisville and Notre Dame, Hoosiers freshman Jay Edwards tied the game at 71-71 on a baseline jumper with :01 showing on the clock to send the game to overtime.
In the extra period with UK leading 78-76, goggle-sporting Ed Davender forced Final Four hero Keith Smart into a turnover, Rex Chapman dove on the loose ball and fed it to Richard "Master Blaster" Madison for a dunk – his only basket of the game – with 34 seconds left to seal the deal.
Davender, who finished with 22 points, held Smart to just five points on 2 of 9 shooting. Chapman added 20 and Cedric Jenkins contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds as five Cats reached double figures.
Rick Calloway, a 6-6 guard who later transferred to Kansas, scored a game-high 26 for IU.
The Big Four Classic was played four times from 1987 to 1990 and featured UK, IU, Notre Dame and Louisville. The Cats played the Hoosiers twice and the Fighting Irish twice in the event, splitting their four games.
1. 1975 NCAA Mideast Regional Final: (5) UK 92, (1) IU 90
March 22, 1975 – Dayton, OH
The Holy Grail of the UK-IU rivalry.
Not only No. 1 on this list, but the Cats' 92-90 win over Bob Knight's top-ranked Hoosiers remains as one of the seminal non-title clinching victories in the rich history of the program.
The Hoosiers came into the game undefeated, riding a 34-game winning streak, including a 98-74 regular season shellacking of the Cats in Bloomington, after which Knight reportedly (allegedly) smacked Joe B. Hall in the back of the head at midcourt in the waning moments of IU's big win at Assembly Hall.
Having taken five straight in the series, IU entered the game has heavy favorites and surged out to an early seven-point lead before UK rallied to tie it at 44 by halftime. Late in the second half, Rick Robey and Kevin Grevey combined on an 8-0 run to take control off the game before holding off the Hoosiers in the final minutes.
Mike Flynn led five Cats in double figures with 22 points. Grevey and Jimmy Dan Conner each scored 17 to overcome Kent Benson's 33 points and 23 rebounds.
The win put UK in the Final Four in San Diego, where they dropped the NCAA title game in what would be John Wooden's last game. The loss for IU, prevented what could have been back-to-back undefeated seasons and national championships as the Hoosiers went on to take the title in 1976.
1970 & 1971 – The Cats and Hoosiers staged two remarkably-competitive games in back-to-back years with UK claiming a 95-93 overtime victory in 1970 led by 24 points and 12 rebounds from Tom Parker, 19 points from Kent Hollenback and 18 from Mike Casey to offset a 38-point, 20-rebound effort by IU’s George McGinnis in the final season of play at the Indiana Fieldhouse in Bloomington. The following year at Freedom Hall, the Hoosiers turned the tables with a 90-89 double-overtime win that featured one of the best individual performances by a UK opponent – 47 points and 20 rebounds by IU center Steve Downing.
1980 – Until John Wall and Eric Bledsoe led the Cats to a win at Assembly Hall in 2009, you had to go back three decades for Kentucky’s last victory in Bloomington. On that December day, Sam Bowie and Fred Cowan each scored 14 points to lead the No. 2 Cats to a 68-66 victory. The No. 5 Hoosiers got 20 points and five assists from Isiah Thomas, who went on to lead IU to the national championship in March.
1983 – Ordinarily, an NCAA Regional matchup between Kentucky and Indiana would be the big news, but this game would up being overshadowed by the one that followed it. The 12th-ranked Cats got 16 points from Melvin Turpin and 13 from Kenny Walker to hand the fifth-ranked Hoosiers a 64-59 defeat (and avenge a 62-59 loss to IU in December) but the bigger news was it set up Dream Game I between Kentucky and Louisville at Knoxville’s Stokely Center for a trip to the Final Four that the Cardinals ultimately won in an overtime thriller.
2002 – This one will long be remembered by Kentucky fans as “The Mike Davis Game” after the Hoosier coach stormed the court at Freedom Hall to protest a call, received two technical fouls and a subsequent ejection. The No. 16 Cats got 17 points from Keith Bogans and 16 from Gerald Fitch en route to a 70-64 upset of the No. 6 Hoosiers.
CatsPause.com Staff Writer Jeff Drummond also contributed to this feature.
Already have an account? Sign In