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A look back at Bill Self vs. Kentucky in the Calipari era

Self & Calipari have had some epic battles, including two national title games.

On Saturday, College GameDay will be coming to Lexington for the 17th time time as the Cats host the Jayhawks of Kansas as a part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

The meeting will also mark the sixth installment of Bill Self vs. John Calipari since he came to Kentucky in 2009. The series is tied with a record of 3-3, including Kansas winning the last three matchups.

Both coaches are universally considered to be two of the very best head coaches in all of college basketball, so it comes as no surprise that they are in charge of two elite blue-blood programs.

It is difficult to find a head coach with a winning record against John Calipari during his time at the University of Kentucky. On Saturday, Coach Cal will have the opportunity to take back the lead in the series.

Here is a look at the previous match-ups.

11/15/11 #2 Kentucky 75 - #12 Kansas - 65

The first time that John Calipari met Bill Self as the head coach of Kentucky was in the inaugural Champions Classic in 2011. For those of you that remember, this was an exciting early season match-up in New York’s Madison Square Garden. The Cats took advantage of a big run to start the second half and never looked back, beating the Jayhawks by 10.

Doron Lamb led UK with 17 points, and Terrence Jones added 15. Kansas actually beat up Kentucky on the glass, out-rebounding them by 11. But poor shooting from outside ultimately prevented Bill Self’s team from keeping up with UK.

Tyshawn Taylor led Kansas with 22 points. It turned out that this would just be a warm-up game for these two teams. As I’m sure you recall, Calipari and Self would meet just a few months later with a national championship on the line.

4/2/12 #1 Kentucky 67 - #2 Kansas 59

This may be the best day in memory for many members of the Big Blue Nation, as Kentucky topped Kansas by 8 points to win their 8th national championship in New Orleans. This time, it was Kentucky that was able to win the rebounding battle by a margin of +11.

Once again UK was led by Doron Lamb who scored 22 points on 7/12 shooting. The Cats were able to stay calm under pressure and finish off the Jayhawks in a game that was close down the stretch.

A late block by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was instrumental in capping off the national title run and cementing this team’s place in the history. Anthony Davis would go on to win national player of the year before drafting #1 overall in the NBA draft. The 2012 team was truly special and they proved it by beating Bill Self’s Jayhawk team on the biggest stage in college basketball.

11/18/14 #1 Kentucky 72 - #5 Kansas 40

This was by far the biggest win of the series by either team, as Kentucky dominated from start to finish and were never threatened, despite having only two players reach double figures. Dakari Johnson had 11 points, Andrew Harrison had 10 and Willie Cauley-Stein finished with seven points and 10 rebounds.

The Jayhawks made only 11 baskets — eight in the first half, three in the second. They shot just 19.6 percent from the field and were 3/15 on 3-pointers. Kansas finished with its lowest point total since Bill Self took over as coach in 2003-04.

1/30/16 #4 Kansas 90 - #20 Kentucky 84 (OT)

In 2016’s SEC/Big 12 challenge Kansas was able to take advantage of their home court and clipped Kentucky in an overtime thriller at Allen Fieldhouse. This was a game that saw one of the best performances of Tyler Ulis’ career as he scored 26 points on the road while shooting 11/19.

Unfortunately, Kansas was able to capitalize on a career day from Wayne Selden, who scored 33 points, including 7 in the overtime period. It goes without saying that Kentucky probably wins this game if it was at Rupp Arena. The Cats were up 6 points at halftime but just couldn’t hang on.

UK shot just 5/23 from deep which certainly did not help their cause. A little (more like a lot) of home-cooking was present as Kansas shot 47 free throws compared to Kentucky’s 22 attempts. Imagine that. Although, UK didn’t help themselves by only making 59% of those free throws and being out-rebounded -11.

Other than the outcome, I remember this game being really entertaining. If we’re being honest, most fans didn’t think Kentucky had a chance to stay competitive in that environment, but they rallied behind Tyler Ulis and made it a heck of a game.

1/28/17 #2 Kansas 79 - #4 Kentucky 73

This year, the SEC/Big 12 Challenge had Kansas come to Rupp Arena for a blockbuster match-up between two top 5 teams. Kentucky controlled things for a large portion of the game and was even up by 5 at halftime.

The Jayhawks were able to rally behind Frank Mason, who had 21 points, and Josh Jackson added another 20, including two big 3-pointers in crunch time.

Derek Willis had a great game for UK pouring in 18 points and only missing 1 shot from the field. From a statistical standpoint, this game was very evenly matched, aside from Kentucky turning it over 5 more times than Kansas, there wasn’t a lot to blame.

The Jayhawks just made more plays down the stretch and secured the win. Losing at home is always tough, especially when it comes at the hands of Bill Self and another blue-blood program like Kansas. I have to imagine that Calipari wanted this one back more than the others.

11/14/17 #4 Kansas 65 - #7 Kentucky 61

I was present for this game Champions Classic game in Chicago at the United Center. The atmosphere was terrific but the majority of the game was riddled with sloppy play. The biggest story of the game were Kentucky’s 18 turnovers, including 6 by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander alone.

Nick Richards and PJ Washington combined for 7 turnovers and only 4 points. Kevin Knox’s 20 points and 7 rebounds were one of the only bright spots in what was a disappointing loss. Although, the Cats did block 10 shots in the game. The Kansas Jayhawks would go on to win 31 games and make the Final Four.

Side note:

In 2008 Kansas defeated Coach Calipari’s Memphis Tigers in the national championship game. It was Self’s first title as a head coach and obviously a heart-breaking for Calipari. That Mario Chalmers shot remains one of the biggest shots in college basketball history. Sorry, coach.