Oscar Tshiebwe was awarded the Naismith Player of the Year trophy on Sunday — one decade after former Kentucky Wildcats legend Anthony Davis won the award.
The difference in the decade is Kentucky was hoisting the NCAA Tournament trophy back then.
Now, the Wildcats are at home at have been for two weeks after being bounced in a first round upset at the hands of St. Peter’s. While spring football looks more than promising, there’s still six months until we’ll see Kentucky basketball again. So, here’s a look back at the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats and how truly great they were.
The Wildcats weren’t incredibly deep, but didn’t present any weaknesses.
Marquis Teague was the team’s true point guard but could also knock down open shots.
Doron Lamb, arguably the greatest shooter in Kentucky basketball history, played his role beautifully.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was the country’s most versatile, two-way player.
Terrance Jones was the savvy sophomore who could create his own offense.
And Darius Miller was the one of the country’s best players off the bench.
Of course, that all goes without saying Anthony Davis was the most incredible talent college basketball had seen in quite some time.
Though most hone in on the championship banner these Wildcats brought to Lexington, a lot is forgotten of just how special their 30-1 regular season was. The Wildcats had triumphant wins over No. 12 Kansas, No. 5 North Carolina and No. 4 Louisville along with a blowout victory over No. 8 Florida. Their only loss came at Indiana following the infamous buzzer beater from Christian Watford.
While their regular season was incredibly dominant, the SEC Tournament took a quick turn as Kentucky squeezed past LSU and Florida to reach championship Sunday. Darius Miller was the 2011 SEC Tournament MVP yet was held scoreless in the team’s first two games of the 2012 tournament.
With Kidd-Gilchrist asking head coach John Calipari for Miller to take his spot in the championship game, it was the move that very well could have won Kentucky their eighth championship banner.
The Wildcats lost the SEC title game to Vanderbilt, but Miller found his groove and led the team with 16 points. After all, Calipari is known for not worrying too much about the SEC tournament and instead focusing on the Big Dance. A great call by Kidd-Gilchrist and trust from his head coach led the Wildcats to fuel one of the better tournament runs in recent memory. Four of their six wins came over top-17 teams en route to capturing the championship and ending the special season in style.
Calipari’s 38-1 team came a few years later and is often referenced as the best team Kentucky has ever put on the court. However, it’s hard to argue against the 2012 team that cut down the nets. How has it been a decade since Kentucky hung their last banner?
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He’s simply the best.
Bit of a bumpy road here lately.
No one else is more deserving than him.
Can’t wait for Saturday.
Probably depends if you’re the school landing the transfers (or not).
This would be a heck of a comeback.
He’s in for a major year.
Who do you have tonight?
Let’s hope the answer is yes.