Kentucky basketball: All-time win lead safe for now but for how long

Kentucky Wildcats verses Kansas (Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats verses Kansas (Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) /
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If you are a true Kentucky basketball fan watching all the madness without our beloved Wildcats playing you most likely are rooting for the remaining two Southeastern Conference teams in Alabama and Arkansas and definitely were rooting hard for Southern Cal on Monday night.

That is because the Trojans obliterated Kansas 85-51 ending their season with the Jayhawks’ third-worst loss ever. Coincidently, their second-worst one was December 23, 1974, when UK won by 37.

Kansas has been chipping away all season at the all-time win total that Kentucky holds seeing as the Wildcats mustered a mere nine wins in a 25 game effort.

The lead is now down to a slim four games.

Kentucky slogged through a 9-16 season this season which meant missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013 and posting its first losing record since 1989.

Kentucky basketball’s all-time win lead is shirking fast

When UK’s season mercifully ended with a 74-73 loss to Mississippi State in the second round of the SEC Tournament it was still the winningest program in NCAA history with 2,327 victories but they had to watch those in the rearview mirror closing fast in Kansas and North Carolina.

The Jayhawks (21-9), whittled away12 games off Kentucky’s advantage lead from the start of the season, but still, trail by four at 2,323 all-time wins. Had the No. 3 seed managed to win the NCAA Tournament the lead would have been down to just one.


And for those counting, we are thankful North Carolina struggled and has exited the Big Dance and is in third with 2,293 wins. Kentucky and the Tar Heels will face off on December 18 next year in the State Farm Champions Classic.

Kentucky chased and overtook North Carolina back in 1995 on its way to a National Championship and the Tar Heels have been in pursuit ever since.

Then in 2012, the Wildcats were paced by Anthony Davis (6 points, 6 blocks, and 16 rebounds), Doron Lamb’s 22 points, Marcus Teague 14 points, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (11 points, 6 boards) as they knocked off Kansas 67-59 for the Championship.

Admittedly as this season unfolded it became clear the gap would narrow between the nation’s Blue Blood programs including fourth place  Duke who also had an up and down year and currently sits at 2,214 victories.

Of course, there is the chance Kansas could tumble off the Wildcats tail since the KU program is facing multiple Level 1 violations and charges of lack of institutional control and head coach responsibility by Bill Self.

All of the allegations carry potentially severe punishments if the ruling goes against the program and a very large number of wins would be vacated. They choose to have the newly formed Independent Resolution Accountability Process, which will investigate and rule on the charges. All rulings by the IARP are final and not subject to appeal.

But just in case it doesn’t happen Kentucky and coach John Calipari have some serious soul-searching to do as well as finding a new direction and philosophy to employ. This season has been a year of the modern game darting past Cal’s dribble-drive offense and refusal to play zone for starters.

In his final radio show, Calipari acknowledged things have to change.

"“We gotta evaluate everything. We can’t do it emotionally. We have to do it thoughtfully It’s changing right before us. Transfer without penalty, name, image, and likeness. Where is this all going? We’re all trying to figure it out.”"

There is no time to waste.