Top 10 Kentucky Wildcat Highlights of 2012

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Apr 2, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Anthony Davis (left) and forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (right) kiss the NCAA National Championship trophy after defeating the Kansas Jayhawks 67-59 in the finals of the 2012 NCAA men

It’s been a long, fun and sometimes bumpy ride for the Big Blue Nation in 2012. Now that it’s over, it’s time to recap the greatest moments of the year. As you probably could have guessed, the basketball team dominated the list, but as you can see with the #2 spot, that will change in the near future.

2013 will assuredly bring us some more moments to remember. But for now, enjoy looking back at 2012. And go Cats.

1. The Kentucky Wildcats win their 8th National Championship- Could any other moment have been number one? John Calipari finally got the formula he needed to win his first national title as a head coach. He had the perfect mix of talented youth and talented experience. This Kentucky team lost only two games all season long and was the favorite to win it all going in to the tournament. Kansas did prove to be a formidable opponent, but Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Doron Lamb, Terrence Jones and Darius Miller would not be denied. Big Blue Nation’s hunger for another national title trophy was finally satisfied after fourteen long years.

2. Mark Stoops Hired as Kentucky’s Head Football Coach- After a dismal 2-10 season under Joker Phillips, the Kentucky administration knew it was time to get serious about college football. Season ticket sells were at their lowest point in the history of the program and the team was playing to a near empty Commonwealth Stadium. Kentucky football fans were concerned about the coaching hire that Mitch Barnhart would make, but Tim Couch helped in the search and landed Mark Stoops. Stoops has had immense success as a defensive coordinator, as a recruiter and has a football pedigree. Add to the fact that Neal Brown and multiple other high profile assistants were brought in shows that Kentucky is not just a basketball school.

3. Kentucky defeats Louisville in the Final Four- The rivalry between the Wildcats and the Cardinals is second to none in the world of college athletics. The vitriol between the bases was amplified like never before when the two teams clashed in New Orleans. The Wildcats won the regular season meeting 69-62 at Rupp Arena in a game that was not as close as the score indicated. The Wildcats won the Final Four game 69-61 and extended Kentucky’s win streak over Louisville to five games. It’s one thing to beat your hated rival, but ending their hopes of winning a national title is so much sweeter.

4. Anthony Davis Wins Every Award Imaginable- He broke the all time blocks record for freshmen with 183. He was recognized as the player of the year by every national publication imaginable. He won the Naismith award. He was only the second freshman named as the AP player of the year. He was named the defensive player of the year. He was a first team All American. He won the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player. And the list goes on and on. Davis is not only the most decorated Wildcat of all time, he is one of the most decorated players of all time.

5. Nerlens Noel Commits to Kentucky- With the entire starting five from the national title team heading to the NBA, John Calipari had some major spots to fill. He had already secured commitments from outstanding prospects Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress, but the crown jewel of the class was center Nerlens Noel. Noel had his own announcement special on ESPN along with Shabazz Muhammad, another Kentucky prospect. Muhammad went first and announced that he was going to be a UCLA Bruin. Kentucky fans had a sense of foreboding as rumors on twitter had Noel going to Georgetown. But he shocked the world as he turned around in his seat to reveal a “UK” symbol shaved into the back of his Kid N Play style high top five. He secured another #1 recruiting class for Cal. Noel has been Kentucky’s best player thus far.

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