Alabama has a storied football tradition, but so does Tennessee, Georgia, LSU, Auburn, and Florida. In SEC basketball, it's just Kentucky. Arkansas jumped in and won a national title, Florida won a couple, LSU and Bama have had some good teams, and even our beloved Bulldogs have held their own. But UK has dominated the SEC since the league started, and 2012 is no different.
So when you beat the Wildcats it's a big deal. It's important. You remember the game. You even remember the ones that got away and the near misses. Before we dive into Tuesday night's game, let's take a look back at some of these great match-ups between MSU and UK.
The all-time series is State 20, Kentucky 87. So a win against them is to be savored. 13 of those wins were under Mississippi State's three greatest coaches: Babe McCarthey (4-6), Richard Williams (5-14), and Rick Stansbury (4-11).
Babe McCarthy's teams tapered off after the 1963 season and MSU was 8-51 from 1964-1994, and only 5-48 against UK teams not on probation. Coming into the 1995 season State hadn't won a game in Lexington since 1967, and they'd never won a game in Rupp Arena (opened in 1976). But Derryl WIlson and Erick Dampier ended that streak with a huge 76-71 win over the #4 Cats. 2009 was the only time since that game MSU has won vs. UK at Rupp.
The next season MSU had one of their greatest all time wins in the SEC Championship Game. UK was easily the #1 team in the country at 28-1 (18-0 in SEC including tourney). After getting blown away in Starkville, Dontae Jones had 28 points and the Dawgs won 84-73 to win the conference tournament. Three weeks later Kentucky would win the national championship.
The Bulldogs didn't win again until 2002 when Mario Austin shocked everyone at the Hump and hit a 3 to send the game to overtime. In 2004, State was 13-0 and ranked #20 but came up just short (67-66) when Erick Daniels had a buzzer-beating tip-in for Top 5 Kentucky.
In the second round of the 2007 SEC Tournament a lane violation and a Jamont Gordon 22 foot buzzer-beater got the game to overtime where State would win 84-82. That was the first of three straight wins, the others coming in '08 at the Hump and '09 in Lexington.
2010 featured a pair of heart-breakers at the hands of Kentucky. The first game was in Starkville where MSU managed to take #2 UK to overtime despite Ravern Johnson sitting out due to a team rules violation. In the SEC Tournament championship game the Dawgs needed a win to go to the big dance. Up by three with five seconds to play Stansbury decided to foul. Eric Bledsoe made the first, intentionally missed the second free throw and John Wall got a lucky bounce, missed a 3, then DeMarcus Cousins got another rebound and put it back up to tie the game before the buzzer. The Cats won in OT 75-74.
When Kentucky comes to the Hump Tuesday night, hopefully it will be a game worthy of making this group.