Saturday’s CBS Sports Classic showdown between the Kentucky Wildcats and UCLA Bruins will mark the 16th meeting all-time between the two blue-blood programs and the sixth meeting between the two in John Calipari’s tenure.
Since Calipari’s first showdown with the Bruins in 2014 at Kentucky, the Bruins have had the upper-hand, boasting a 3-2 record with the last meeting between the two coming in the 2017 CBS Sports Classic.
In 1975, the Bruins bested Kentucky in the 1975 NCAA title game in Joe B.’s third season as Kentucky head coach. It wound end up being John Wooden’s last game as head coach for the Bruins.
In 1998, Kentucky would get NCAA tournament revenge against the Bruins, en route to their seventh title, Kentucky blasted UCLA 94-68 in the Sweet 16.
From 1998 to 2014, Kentucky would face UCLA just three times, all three coming down to the wire.
Just eight months after winning the Sweet 16 matchup, No. 4 Kentucky would walk away with a four-point win over No. 10 UCLA in the first month of the 1998-’99 season in the Puerto Rico Shootout.
Two years later, No. 12 Kentucky would fall to the No. 18 Bruins in a back-and-forth, overtime game 97-92 in New York for the Coaches vs Cancer Classic.
Three years later in 2003, one Tubby’s most heralded teams of all-time (2003-’04) Kentucky would win a low-scoring affair 52-50.
The two met again in Maui in 2006, where the No. 5 Bruins would walk away with a five-point win over the No. 20 Wildcats. UCLA would make the Final Four that season, just fresh off a National Title appearance the season prior. The Bruins were led by Darren Collison, Aaron Afflalo and sitting on the bench was a lowly freshman by the name of Russell Westbrook.
The two programs would go eight seasons without meeting one another, but John Calipari was no stranger to the Bruins. In the 2008 Final Four, Cal’s Memphis team decimated the Bruins, led by Westbrook and Kevin Love.
And in 2014, his Kentucky program demoralized the Bruins 83-44, holding UCLA to seven points in the first half. The Wildcats led by as many 44 points in the CBS Sports Classic edition in Chicago. Devin Booker posted 19 points for the Wildcats.
The two programs met three more times over the next two seasons - including two Bruins wins over No. 1 ranked Kentucky teams.
UCLA would beat No. 1 Kentucky in 2015 in Pauley Pavillion, in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates.
In 2016, the No. 11 Bruins, led by Lonzo Ball and TJ Leaf, walked into Rupp and beat No. 1 Kentucky, led by De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo, 97-92. Kentucky allowed six Bruins to hit double-figures and Malik Monk led Kentucky with 24 points.
The two programs would then meet later that season in the 2017 Sweet 16, a much anticipated rematch, one that the Wildcats would win easily 86-75, thanks to De’Aaron Fox’s 39 points.
The final matchup between these two teams for the foreseeable future would come in December 2017, where UCLA would walk away with an 83-75 win. Kentucky allowed two Bruins to score 20 points.
As the record stands, Kentucky holds an 8-7 lead over Bruins of California-Los Angeles. A win on Saturday for Kentucky could make that a two-game lead. However, a loss could tie the series up for the first time in series history.