Kentucky and Kansas, the two winningest programs in college basketball history, will meet for the 30th time on Saturday — but just the sixth time at Rupp Arena.
The Jayhawks, who trail the Wildcats by 18 victories (2,204 to 2,222) on the all-time wins list, own a 1-4 mark in Rupp. Kansas beat Kentucky 65-59 on Jan. 9, 2005.
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That rare win in Lexington, Ky., was engineered by current Kansas coach Bill Self, whose Jayhawk teams won their first three meetings with Kentucky, then dropped the next three, before winning last year in Allen Fieldhouse. That gives Self a 4-3 record versus the Wildcats.
He is the only Kansas coach with a winning record versus Kentucky, which has won 22 of 29 games versus the Jayhawks. Phog Allen and Dick Harp’s KU teams went 0-1, Larry Brown 1-2, Roy Williams 1-3 and Ted Owens 1-12.
Owens’ 1976-77 Kansas team actually served as opponent on the night Rupp Arena was dedicated — Dec. 11, 1976.
It was a festive evening for the Wildcats and their fans, who honored former Kentucky coach and Kansas graduate Adolph Rupp before the contest.
On that night, Kentucky, which had six players score in double figures (Jack Givens 15, James Lee 14, Rick Robey 13, Dwane Casey 13, Mike Phillips 12 and Larry Johnson 10) forced Kansas into 29 turnovers and rolled, 90-63, before a crowd of 23,107.
The Jayhawks had very few highlights in the game, the third contested in the then-new arena (the Kansas game was the official dedication game). John Douglas scored 17 points (with seven turnovers), while Donnie Von Moore had 11 points with 12 rebounds for Kansas.
“For years, Allen Fieldhouse was larger than life (capacity 16,300). Then buildings like Rupp Arena and the Dean Dome were built,” Owens said in an interview with The Star. “It (Rupp) was huge. I remember walking up the stairs and amazed by the upper levels of it. It’s a huge arena,” added Owens, who will attend Saturday’s game between Kansas and Kentucky.
The Jayhawks also fell, 67-66, in overtime on Dec. 9, 1978; 87-73 on Dec. 13, 1980; and 88-71, on Dec. 8, 1990, in Rupp.
That game in ’78 proved especially frustrating for the Jayhawks, who led, 66-60, with 31 seconds left in overtime before Kyle Macy and the Wildcats concocted an improbable 7-0 game-winning run.
As far as the lone Kansas victory in Rupp: Points were at a premium as Kansas’ Christian Moody produced a team-leading 11 points, while Keith Langford, C.J. Giles and J.R. Giddens added 10 apiece. Kentucky was led by Kelenna Azubuike, who scored 12 points. Rajon Rondo had six points and five steals for the Wildcats.
“I don’t know if I’ve been part of one bigger than that, ever,” Self said at the time. It snapped an 0-7 losing streak in the city of Lexington as KU had an 0-3 record at Memorial Coliseum.
“Guys wanted it so bad. .... How we played the second half was remarkable,” Self added after Kansas erased a 25-21 halftime deficit.
A big play in the game occurred when Aaron Miles flipped the ball to fellow Portland, Ore., native Michael Lee, who hit a three-pointer with 31 seconds left to up a 58-56 lead to five points.
Sasha Kaun, who was a freshman, had seven points with four rebounds in 12 minutes for the Jayhawks.
“It’s great to come here and beat Kentucky, but this team has some other goals that are more important,” Kansas guard Lee said at the time.
As far as some other memorable games in the series not contested at Rupp: Kentucky downed Kansas 67-59 in the 2012 NCAA title game in New Orleans. Doron Lamb scored 22 points and Anthony Davis 16 points with six blocks. … Kentucky thrashed Kansas 72-40 in the Champions Classic on Nov. 18, 2014 in Indianapolis. Kentucky went 38-1 that season. … The Jayhawks beat Kentucky 150-95, on Dec. 9, 1989, in Allen Fieldhouse. Terry Brown hit seven threes and scored 31 points. Derrick Miller scored 32 for the Wildcats. … Two individual talents were on display on Dec. 31, 1984 when Kenny “Sky” Walker outscored Danny Manning, 36-30, in Kentucky’s 92-89 win in Louisville. Manning had 11 rebounds to Walker’s 19.
Fast facts about the Wildcats in Rupp Arena
▪ Coach John Calipari is 129-5 in the building where the Wildcats are 556-65 overall and winners of 212 of their last 240 games.
▪ The Wildcats are undefeated at home in five of Calipari’s first seven seasons at Kentucky.
▪ Calipari’s teams are 17-2 against ranked opponents in Rupp, 112-3 against unranked teams.
▪ Kentucky is 68-2 vs. nonconference teams at home under Calipari.