2018 was a good year for Kentucky Wildcats athletics. From men’s basketball winning yet another SEC championship to the rise of the football program to a national audience, I am going to attempt to sit down and go through some of the top moments of the 2018 calendar year. Join me, won’t you?
Country Roads take Kentucky home
Last season’s Kentucky basketball squad was a bit of a process. They struggled, then they would start to look good, then they would struggle again. But on January 27th, an unranked Wildcats squad traveled to Morgantown for a matchup that was years in the making; Kentucky at West Virginia.
The Wildcats erased a 17 point deficit and put up 50 points in the second half to overcome the No. 7 Mountaineers 83-76, and a big thanks is in order to Kevin Knox who put up 34 points and dominated the game.
Another SEC Championship *yawn*
Kentucky and March, it’s just something about those two things that seem to go together. Yes while, the Wildcats squad struggled all season long, they found their footing just in time, as they beat a tough Tennessee Volunteers team, who had beaten them twice that season, in the game that actually mattered. Powered by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and his 29 points, Kentucky managed to get the best of Tennessee in the SEC final, 77-72, for their 32nd conference tournament title.
Sydney McLaughlin dominates literally everything
I mean she’s the best women’s track athlete in the country isn’t she? Sydney McLaughlin was making waves before her only season at UK but in her time here, she made sure to help put Kentucky track on the map. She took home an NCAA championship in the 400m hurdles and was a three-time SEC champion in the 400m indoor, 400m hurdles, and the 4x400m relay. Oh and she was a five time All-America in the 200m indoor, 400m indoor, 4x400m relay, 400m hurdle outdoor and 4x400m outdoor. Pretty good.
Kentucky is a soccer school
So be honest, how many of you actually knew how good Kentucky’s soccer team would be before we started hearing about them? Normally we like to focus on the main two sports, but Kentucky’s soccer team was putting fans in the stands as they had their best season in program history, finishing 19-2-1 overall, reached a ranking as high as No. 3 in the nation, beat No. 6 Louisville, No. 2 Indiana, No. 14 Charlotte, No. 24 Old Dominion and No. 21 Portland, AND won the Conference USA championship. They ultimately fell to power Maryland in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, but that doesn’t diminish the successful season that they put on.
Ding dong the streak is dead
After 31 grueling years, Kentucky finally beat the Florida Gators in a football game. The Wildcats traveled to the Swamp on the second Saturday in September and much wasn’t expected to come of it. Every national media outlet picked the Gators, Gameday picked the Gators, basically the normal Kentucky-Florida things. Well the Wildcats went down to Gainesville and handled the Gators by double-digits thanks to the duo of Terry Wilson and Benny Snell. This was the win that sent shockwaves through college football in the beginning of the season and is what propelled the Wildcats to their best season in 40 years a date with Penn State in the Citrus Bowl on January 1st.
Josh Allen racks up every award in existence
Josh Allen put his name on the college football map this season through sheer dominance and his tenacious pass rushing. It seems that no one could ever block Allen, thus causing him to get the Shaq treatment. Well hard work pays off as Allen won SEC defensive player of the year, the Bronko Nagurski award, the Chuck Bednarik award, the Lott impact trophy, the Jack Lambert award, and was a consensus first team All-American. And he’s probably going to be a top-5 pick in the NFL draft.
Kentucky Basketball closes out 2018 with a bang
The 2018-19 edition of the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team started off a little rough. From a blowout at the hands of Duke, to a heartbreaking loss to Seton Hall in The Garden, things were looking bleak. But just nine days ago, Kentucky handled North Carolina in the CBS Sports Classic and then on Saturday, Kentucky put little brother Louisville back to sleep with a 71-58 victory. Two huge victories to close out the 2018 calendar year for this Wildcats squad heading into conference play was must and they got it. Here’s hoping this same Kentucky squad can keep it rolling in 2019.
Happy New Year everyone!