Folks, it’s finally here. Opening night in college basketball and the first official game for our University of Kentucky Wildcats. Tonight, they will take on the top-ranked team in the country, the Michigan State Spartans, in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Kansas will take on Duke in the first game at 7 p.m. EST and Kentucky will play Michigan State in the second game at 9:30 p.m. EST
Kentucky has been participating in the Champions Classic since 2011, so let’s take a look at the Wildcats’ previous performances.
2011: #2 Kentucky 75 – #12 Kansas 65
Little did we know this was just a preview for that years National Championship game, which Kentucky took home.
The leading scorer that night was Doron Lamb with 17 points including three three-pointers. The National Player of the Year, Anthony Davis, 14 points, six rebounds, and SEVEN blocks.
2012: #3 Kentucky 68 – #9 Duke 75
This might be the best game Alex Poythress ever played at Kentucky considering he was projected to be the number one pick in mock drafts days after.
Poythress recorded 20 points with eight rebounds. And, Nerlens Noel had 16 points, eight rebounds, four steals, and three blocks.
2013: #1 Kentucky 74 – #2 Michigan State 78
This game is basically a reverse of what we’ll see tomorrow night in terms of rankings, but this game ended the 40-0 talk quickly and showed us that one of the best recruiting classes ever, wasn’t quite worth all the hype.
After a terrible start, the Cats fought all the way back to tie the game in the second half, but Michigan State got a tip-in bucket late to seal the game.
James Young had 19 points and four rebounds. And, Julius Randle had 27 points, 13 rebounds, and eight turnovers.
2014: #1 Kentucky 72 – #5 Kansas 40
Crazy to think, but we had no idea as to what was ahead for this season. It ended bad, but got off to one hell of a start.
“It’s like trying to play frisbee in the Redwood Forest.” – Jay Bilas
Willie Cauley-Stein had seven points and 10 rebounds. And, Karl Anthony Towns had nine points and eight rebounds.
2015: #2 Kentucky 74 – #5 Duke 63
Always a great game when you thump the Blue Devils. Might be one of the best games this team played all year.
Marcus Lee had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Jamal Murray had 16 points, five rebounds, five assists, and four steals. Tyler Ulis had 18 points, four rebounds, six assists, and two steals. And, Alex Poythress had nine points and seven rebounds.
2016: #2 Kentucky 69 – #13 Michigan State 48
This is definitely one of the most impressive opening games in the John Calipari era. I think we were all thinking #9 after this game.
Malik Monk had 23 points and six rebounds, including seven threes. De’Aaron Fox had 12 points, four rebounds, and six assists. And, Isaiah Briscoe had 21 points, four rebounds, and two assists.
2017: #7 Kentucky 61 – #4 Kansas 65
This game was tight until the very end. A Malik Newman (what happened to him?) three in the final minutes is probably what sealed the game for the Jayhawks. Well, that and the fact Kevin Knox tried a floater over the backboard to tie the game.
Kevin Knox had 20 points and seven rebounds. Hamidou Diallo had 14 points, five rebounds, and four assists. And, Sacha Killeya-Jones had eight points and nine rebounds.
2018: #4 Duke 118 – #2 Kentucky 84
How about we pretend like this game never happened?