Kentucky’s Worst Loss in SEC Play



University of Kentucky basketball personifies excellence. The school has the most wins of any college basketball program in the country, eight national championships, 17 Final Four appearances, and 46 Southeastern Conference (SEC) titles. Yet, even great programs experience low points. Kentucky’s low point in SEC play came on February 12, 2008 in Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, Tennessee. On that fateful night, the Vanderbilt University Commodores annihilated the Wildcats 93-52, administering the worst loss in the history of SEC play for Kentucky and the five-worst loss ever by a Kentucky basketball team.

Shan Foster pumped in 20 points for the Commodores while A.J. Ogilvy tallied 19 along with 12 rebounds (Lionel Richie did not score that night, at least in the game). Vanderbilt led 41-11 at halftime and led by as many as 43 points several times during the contest. Kentucky finished with more fouls (26) than made field goals (17).

Kentucky forward and future NBA player Patrick Patterson put it succinctly, “They played like men, and we played like boys.”

Under first-year coach Billy Gillespie, Kentucky started slowly at 6-5 with lopsided losses to Gardner-Webb and Indiana but had won five straight coming into the game, including a win over Tennessee. The Wildcats had already beaten Vanderbilt earlier in the year in Lexington, 79-73 in overtime.

So no one would have predicted a game like this, including Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings, “I didn’t see this coming in any way, shape or form. Not of this magnitude.”

Before this defeat to Vanderbilt, Kentucky’s worst loss to the Commodores came in 1989 by 30 points under Eddie Sutton’s watch. Kentucky’s worst loss ever came during the 1989-1990 season under Rick Pitino, this time to the Kansas Jayhawks by 55 points. Its previous worst SEC loss came against LSU by 35 points in 1987, also under Sutton.

Kentucky does not lose many basketball games, certainly not along the lines of the February 2008 Vanderbilt game. As a point of reference, Kentucky leads the all-time series with Vanderbilt 140-46, as of January 22, 2016.  To be fair to the Commodores, Kentucky has dominated most of its opponents over the years, but this game serves as an example of how even the great programs will belly flop from time to time.  As the old saying goes, “Nobody is perfect.”


Kentucky Traditions



Picture yourself sitting in a stadium or arena with fans clad in blue and white outfits raucously cheering for their beloved Wildcats. Unmistakably, you are watching one of the University of Kentucky’s athletic teams. Let’s examine the origin of the blue and white colors and the wildcat nickname.

Some Kentucky students in 1891 originally believed the school colors should have been blue and light yellow. However, blue and white became the official colors in 1892. The story goes that a student one day that year asked what shade of blue should serve as the official color and without hesitation football player Richard C. Stoll took off his necktie and held it up. Royal blue has been one of the school’s colors ever since.

The wildcat nickname has an interesting tale tied to it. Commander Philip Carbusier, head of the military department at the school in 1909, witnessed Kentucky’s 6-2 victory over the University of Illinois in Illinois in October. Later, in a chapel service, he told a group of students that the football team “fought like wildcats.” In subsequent years, as the name became more and more popular with Kentucky fans and the media, the university officially adopted the nickname.

The Wildcat moniker and the blue and white colors are synonymous with one of the great institutions of the Southeastern Conference, the University of Kentucky. Cheers to Mr. Stoll and Commander Carbusier!