When I saw the UK basketball schedule for 2020-21, I noticed the Cats will be playing Georgia Tech on Dec. 5 in Lexington.
Ho-hum, many UK fans probably thought. Another blowout.
Not me. I learned the hard way many years ago that Tech can never be taken for granted.
After all, it was Tech that created two of the most improbable losses in history for UK.
On Jan 8, 1955, the Cats hosted Tech at Memorial Coliseum.
Kentucky was unbeaten, ranked No. 1 in the country and winner of 129 straight home games. Tech had lost two in a row, including their last game against Sewanee. And UK had beaten Tech by 52 points the previous season.
If any team had reason to be overconfident, it was the Cats.
But the world quit spinning that night. The lowly Yellow Jackets had defeated the mighty Cats 59-58! Incredibly, the amazing home winning streak came to an ignominious end. It was their first home floor loss since January 2, 1943 — to Ohio State by 45-40.
The 8,500 UK fans at Memorial Coliseum that night sat stunned in their seats, unable to move for several minutes. The impossible had happened!
To make matters worse, Tech used only five players the entire game. One of their stars was 6-3 Bobby Kimmel, who played at Louisville Valley only two years earlier.
The Wildcats played Tech again on Jan. 31 in Atlanta. The Cats would probably get their revenge and run Tech out of the gym, right? Or, so we thought. But history incredibly repeated – Tech won 65-59. The Yellow Jackets again used their Iron Men 5-player lineup, led by Kimmel.
That was the only regular-season losses for the Wildcats (led by Jerry Bird, Bob Burrow and Billy Evans).
The Cats finished No. 1 in the country but lost to Marquette 79-71 in the NCAA second round. And, Tech has managed to win 11 of 29 games versus UK since then – the most wins over a UK team in modern history.
(Ken Paul Mink is a former Herald-Leader sportswriter. He is the author of 26 books. He is a native of Vicco, near Hazard, and holds the record as the world’s oldest college basketball player, age 73, at Roane State in 2008.)