With the Kentucky-Duke rivalry heating up because of so many high profile recruiting battles, it reminds me of one of my favorite NCAA Tournament memories.
That came in 1998 in St. Petersburg when UK played Duke. Coach Tubby Smith’s “Comeback Cats” just refused to lose. In the South Region final, Kentucky fell behind by 18 points but stormed back to win 86-84 and help ease the sting of UK’s loss to Duke in the 1992 classic in Philadelphia.
There were two huge shots in that game I won’t ever forget. First, Cameron Mills hit a 3-pointer with about two minutes left to give UK its first lead at 80-79. I’ve seen prints of Mills launching that shot all over the state.
With the score tied 80-80 and about 40 seconds to play, Scott Padgett hit another key 3-pointer for UK and that helped seal the win.
I remember center Jamal Magloire jumping on a press table to dance when the game ended. Smith ran on the court and jumped around like a young boy with his players in perhaps his happiest moment at UK. Kentucky fans didn’t want to leave the arena.
Fan favorite Jeff Sheppard had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Point guard Wayne Turner had 16 points, eight assists and five rebounds along with being a defensive stopper in perhaps his best all-around game at UK. Padgett had 12 points and six rebounds.
It is still what I consider the greatest comeback win I have seen at Kentucky because it came in NCAA play and led to a NCAA championship.