- Monday, December 21 2009 -
1st Program in NCAA history to win 2000 games
Drexel - 44 (Head Coach: Bruiser Flint) - [Unranked]
Kentucky - 88 (Head Coach: John Calipari)
Halftime Score: Kentucky 56, Drexel 20
|Prior Game|||||Next Game|
|Austin Peay 90 - 69|||||Long Beach State 86 - 73|
Game Writeup - Written by Matt May; Courtesy of The Cats Pause, (All Rights Reserved)
Cats rout Drexel for program's 2,000th win
There's a new tagline for Kentucky basketball, one that won't be forgotten anytime soon.
The Cats claimed their 2,000th all-time victory to set a new standard in the annals of college basketball, pounding Drexel 88-44 and sending 24,354 delirious fans at Rupp Arena home with the memory of a lifetime. It was yet another chapter in UK's storied history, giving even more credence to its claim of being 'home of the greatest tradition' of any NCAA program.
When the final buzzer sounded enough confetti to blanket the entire Commonwealth twinkled down to the Rupp arena floor, setting off a wild celebration that had players dancing in their new black, Nike-issued t-shirts that read 'UK2K' and fans basking in yet another tangible measure of their beloved program's perch atop college basketball's mountain.
"We were the first ones here," UK freshman guard Jon Hood said. "I'll remember that the rest of my life. When anyone talks about college basketball we were the first ones to 2,000. If we would have won by two or 200 we were the first ones to 2,000."
The Cats nearly won by 2,000.
UK looked like Gulliver against Drexel's Lilliputians and took advantage from the outset. DeMarcus Cousins had eight points before Drexel coach Bruiser Flint could signal for a timeout 2:49 into the game to stop the bleeding. The beating never relented as UK thundered through the Dragons the way mighty Secretariat would a home stretch, extending its lead to 51 before settling for the 44-point final margin.
In short, the celebration began early and lasted long into the night.
"This is from Kyle Macy, from Dan Issel, all the way through all the players and all they've done here," UK coach John Calipari said. "You think about it, of the 2,000 wins we weren't a part of many but we had a job to carry it across this line before that other blue team gets there. It was just a small part of what all those former players meant."
There were the usual theatrics during the Cats' most complete performance of the season but this was a night where few will remember individual plays but rather recollect snapshots of history in the making. The expectation in the air was palpable from the moment the Cats took the floor, lasted through every Cousins dunk or John Wall flash of brilliance, and reached a fevered pitch when Calipari insisted Herky Rupp, the son of legendary Adolph Rupp, and national championship coach Joe B. Hall take the microphone and address the crowd.
This was about history and all of the legends who played a part in getting to this one monumental night. There were the broad smiles on the faces of Bill Keightley's widow and daughter, Patrick Patterson addressing the crowd, Cousins having an impromptu dance contest with the mascot. Perhaps most telling, there wasn't a single person in the house who left before the party ended.
"I kept looking around and no one had left, they were all still here," Calipari said. "It's incredible. It shows the connection to the Commonwealth's team and people just take great pride in this university and this basketball program.
"It's hard to tell those 24,000 fans that stuck around that it's not that important. I think all of those things that separate this program from others is important to the Commonwealth. This is one of those things that separates this program from all others."
Ultimately, this was one of those evenings only sports can provide, a 'tell your grandchildren you were there' memory.
"I knew 2,000 was a huge deal but it was like we won the Final Four," UK senior forward Ramon Harris said. "It means a lot to the people in this state.
"We didn't win 2,000 all by ourselves. There is a history of players and coaches here before us that really made it happen."
Somewhere, they're all relishing in UK2K.
DeAndre Liggins gets on the floor to defend
John Wall glides through the air
Fans celebrate UK's 2000th victory, first program to hit the milestone