1998 UK win over Duke a comeback not to be forgotten

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.


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  1. I recall this one well and it did ease the pain from the 92 Duke loss. But the 94 comeback against LSU was something to behold. If I remember correctly, UK rebounded an intentionally missed free throw, was fouled on the put back and made the foul shot to ice the game.

    1. Hmmm… turns out my memory leaves a bit to be desired. That was not how the game ended. Ummmm… Never mind?

  2. That win was a great memory and one to remember for sure. I liked Tubby Smith and still do. His teams played hard.

    1. And yes LP. I am also still a Tubby Smith fan. Great coach and a good man.

  3. I realized this story is about a comeback game. But the game that I still has my mind is the 1975 regionals final against the unbeaten Hoosiers that made Bobby Knight furious. Joe Hall paid a payback what happen the earler in the season. The championship game against UCLA was a set up do to John Wooden retirement announcemen

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