Kentucky’s History in the Big 12/SEC Challenge

Saturday will be the tenth and final Big 12/SEC Challenge. ESPN is replacing the event with the ACC/SEC Challenge next season, bringing a decade of memories of playing mostly Kansas to an end. Kentucky and Kansas have played four times in the challenge thus far, each side winning twice. Overall, Kentucky is 5-3 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, with the 2021 game vs. Texas canceled due to COVID-19.

As we count down ’til tipoff of tomorrow’s highly-anticipated matchup vs. the Jayhawks, let’s look back at Kentucky’s history in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. There are some pretty awesome memories.

College Basketball: Kentucky Aaron Harrison (2) in action vs Baylor at AT&T Stadium. View of HD video screen above court. Arlington, TX 12/6/2013 CREDIT: Greg Nelson (Photo by Greg Nelson /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

2013-14: No. 20 Baylor 67, no. 3 Kentucky 62

December 6, 2013, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Tx.

Also known as the Ice Game. A rare winter storm prevented most fans from making it to Dallas, leaving Jerry World to a couple of thousand brave souls for the Kentucky/Baylor women’s and men’s doubleheader. The women took Baylor to four overtimes, ultimately winning 133-130, but the men failed to make it a sweep, falling to Isaiah Austin and the Bears 67-62. It was a harsh dose of reality for a young team many believed could go 40-0, but thankfully, they got to return to AT&T Stadium four months later for the Final Four.

2014-15: No. 1 Kentucky 63, No. 6 Texas 51

December 5, 2014, Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.

A year later, the team that almost went 40-0 took care of business vs. the Texas Longhorns behind a 21-point performance from Willie Cauley-Stein. The game was tied at halftime, but the Cats opened the second half on an 18-2 run. It was only the second meeting between the two schools.

2015-16: No. 4 Kansas 90, No. 20 Kentucky 84, OT

Jan. 30, 2016, Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Ks.

The Phog was rocking for this showdown between college basketball’s winningest programs, but the Jayhawks outlasted the Cats in overtime 90-84. Wayne Selden had 33 points, seven in overtime.

2016-17: No. 2 Kansas 79, No. 4 Kentucky 73

Jan. 28, 2017, Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.

The next year, Kansas came to Rupp and beat the Cats again. Kentucky led at halftime but had no answer for Kansas’ zone in the second half. After scoring 12 points in the first 12 minutes, Malik Monk was held scoreless for the next 25. Not even five threes from Derek Willis could help the Cats get the win.

Before tip-off, Rupp Arena set the Guinness World Record for the loudest indoor crowd roar (which has since been broken by Kansas in 2017), with Steve Zahn pumping fans up at midcourt.

2017-18: Kentucky 83, No. 7 West Virginia 76

Jan. 27, 2018, WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, Wv.

An unranked Kentucky went to Morgantown and overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to beat the No. 7 Mountaineers. Kevin Knox broke out with a 34-point performance and Kentucky turned the ball over only five times in the second half. This game was really, really fun.

2018-19: No. 8 Kentucky 71, no. 9 Kansas 63

Jan. 26, 2019, Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.

After losing twice to the Jayhawks in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, the Cats finally got the best of them in 2019. PJ Washington turned in a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds and Kentucky outrebounded Kansas 49-36. Four Cats scored in double figures, including Ashton Hagans, who also had eight assists and three steals.

2019-20: No. 15 Kentucky 76, no. 18 Texas Tech 74 OT

Jan. 25, 2020, United Supermarkets Arena, Lubbock, Tx.

Nick Richards led the Cats to the overtime win in Lubbock. Richards had 25 points and 14 rebounds, a performance that earned a kiss on the forehead from John Calipari in the locker room. Immanuel Quickley scored 21 points, including a buzzer-beating three from halfcourt to put the Cats up by two at halftime. Richards scored the last five points in regulation and the first five in overtime before hitting two free throws with 10 seconds left to seal the win.

2020-21: Kentucky vs. no. 5 Texas

Jan. 30, 2021, Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Tx.

Canceled due to COVID-19 issues within Kentucky’s program.

2021-22: No. 12 Kentucky 80, no. 5 Kansas 62

Jan. 29, 2022, Phog Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Ks.

What a win this was. The final score doesn’t really do it justice. Kentucky didn’t just beat the Jayhawks; they blew them out on their own court. The Cats led by 20 at halftime and by as many as 24 in the second half. In what is undoubtedly his best performance at Kentucky, Keion Brooks scored 27 points to lead the Cats to the 80-62 victory. Oscar Tshiebwe finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds, helping Kentucky win the battle of the boards 41-29, 21-7 on the offensive end. Kentucky held fellow national player of the year candidate Ochai Agbaji to just 13 points on 4-14 shooting, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 turnovers. The energy in the building at tipoff was incredible, which only made it more satisfying when Kentucky silenced the Jayhawks and the BBN took over with “Go Big Blue” chants.

2022-23: Kentucky vs. no. 9 Kansas

Jan. 28, 2022, Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.

To be continued…

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