Kentucky Basketball: Ranking the 5 Greatest Shots in Wildcats History
Kentucky basketball is arguably the most storied program in NCAA basketball history, with eight national championships and 2,090 wins.
Now it's time to argue what the greatest shot in the illustrious program's history is. Sure, there have been many memorable moments and baskets in Kentucky's history, but what makes that one shot so special?
The following list takes into consideration the outcome the shot had on the game, the implication of the game, the difficulty of the shot and how well it resonated outside of Big Blue Nation.
There were many shots to consider, so let your voice be heard with any that may have been left off this list.
Sean Woods vs. Duke, 1992 East Regional Final
If the clip above stopped at the 14-second mark, this would be the greatest shot in Kentucky history by far. However, there were still 26 seconds remaining, and instead of Woods hitting the most memorable shot for the Wildcats, it became the most gut-wrenching loss for Kentucky.
Patrick Sparks vs. Michigan State, 2005 Elite Eight
Between the buzzer sounding, the numerous bounces on the rim and sending the game to overtime, this shot is another replay that is on repeat come March. However, much like the Woods shot, Kentucky went on to lose the game, putting a damper on how impressive the shot was.
5. Joe Hagan vs. Marquette; February 14, 1938
Shockingly, there wasn't a video of this shot online. However, that doesn't deter the importance of Joe Hagan's shot.
There isn't much written about the shot, either. But with 12 seconds to go, Hagan drilled a 48-foot shot to defeat Marquette 35-33. The shot helped extend a home winning streak for Kentucky that would eventually last 129 games before Georgia Tech snapped it in 1955.
In fact, it was such a great moment that Kentucky's governor, Happy Chandler, hammered a nail into the floor at Alumni Gym to mark where Hagan made his mark for Kentucky.
4. Brandon Knight vs. Ohio State, 2011 Sweet 16
Brandon Knight had some practice at game-winning shots in the 2011 NCAA tournament. After beating Princeton at the buzzer in the first round, the freshman point guard dialed up some more late-game heroics in the Sweet 16 against top-seeded Ohio State.
After a game-tying three by Jon Diebler, Kentucky elected not to use a timeout and put the ball in its point guard's hands. After waving off a screen by senior Josh Harrellson, Knight dribbled to his right and pulled up from about 15 feet.
The shot helped propel Kentucky to its first Final Four under John Calipari and its first since 1998. It was also a huge shot for the legacy of Calipari. His recruiting method wouldn't be questioned for another year, and his coaching ability would be lauded for getting his fourth-seeded Wildcats to a Final Four.
3. Patrick Sparks vs. Louisville; December 21, 2004
Perhaps a shot doesn't need to be made to be considered for this list. That's the case for Patrick Sparks and his attempt against Louisville in 2004.
With under five seconds to go in a game between two top-13 teams, Sparks inbounded the ball under Louisville's basket. After throwing it in, he quickly flared to the corner and pump-faked before drawing a foul on Ellis Myles.
Down 58-57, Sparks stepped to the free-throw line and calmly drilled all three shots to give the No. 9 Wildcats a 60-58 win over bitter-rival No. 13 Louisville.
Anyone who lives in the Commonwealth or is a fan of either team understands how important it is to win the annual game between the Wildcats and Cardinals. Kentucky had bragging rights for a year—impressive ones at that due to Sparks' free throws culminating in a 16-point comeback.
The loss also handed Rick Pitino his first December loss in Freedom Hall since becoming the head coach of Louisville. That is enough to make any Kentucky fan smile when thinking of Patrick Sparks.
2. DeMarcus Cousins vs. Mississippi State, 2010 SEC Championship Game
It was John Calipari's first year as head coach in Lexington and the Wildcats were rolling along to a conference championship—until the title game against Mississippi State.
The No. 2 Wildcats found themselves down by three with under five seconds to go, and Eric Bledsoe was at the free-throw stripe. He did his job by making the first shot, leaving fans wondering if he missed the second shot on purpose.
Bledsoe did, and his teammates took care of the rest of the drama. First, Patrick Patterson was able to tip the ball as it trickled out toward the corner of the floor. John Wall then raced to pick up the loose ball and ball-faked before releasing a three.
The shot missed short and Cousins came to the rescue. He was able to grab the ball in mid-air and flip up a quick shot before the Wildcats acted like they won the NCAA title, as opposed to sending a game into overtime.
Kentucky would go on to win the game, giving Calipari his first SEC tournament title and helping to secure a No. 1 overall seed for the Wildcats.
1. Scott Padgett vs. Duke, 1998 Elite Eight
It doesn't make up for what Duke did to Kentucky in 1992, but Scott Padgett had his revenge for Kentucky in 1998.
Kentucky trailed by 10 at halftime and as many as 17 in the second half. That was all before Scott Padgett hit his shot with less than 40 seconds remaining.
The Wildcats battled back to tie the game at 81 when Padgett found himself at the top of the key wide open. He didn't hesitate and launched a three, only to see it hit nothing but net and help relieve some of the demons Christian Laettner gave Big Blue Nation in 1992.
Padgett's shot helped Kentucky win its seventh national championship and its only title under Tubby Smith. The shot still lives in Kentucky basketball lore and helped the 1998 team live up to its nickname of the Comeback Cats.