Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball under Adolph Rupp

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Adolph Rupp
Biographical details
Born(1901-09-02)September 2, 1901
Halstead, Kansas
DiedDecember 10, 1977(1977-12-10) (aged 76)
Lexington, Kentucky
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Head coaching record
Overall876–190, 5th most wins all-time;
82.2% winning percentage, 2nd highest all-time
Accomplishments and honors
NCAA Championship
(1948, 1949, 1951, 1958)
Regional Championships – Final Four
(1942, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1966)
National Coach of the Year (5-time, 1950, 1954, 1959, 1966, 1970)
SEC Coach of the Year (7-time, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972)
Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1969
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006

Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball under Adolph Rupp covers the history of the University of Kentucky Wildcats college basketball team during the period from when Adolph Rupp was hired as head coach in 1930 through 1972. Under Rupp, Kentucky played as part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and as a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The Wildcats under Rupp played its home games at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. During the forty years Rupp has served as head basketball coach, Kentucky compiled an overall official record of 876–190 (.822), won four NCAA championships (1948, 1949, 1951, 1958), one NIT title in 1946, appeared in 20 NCAA tournaments, had six NCAA Final Four appearances, captured twenty-seven Southeastern Conference (SEC) regular season titles, and won thirteen SEC tournaments.

Rupp gained the nicknames, "Baron of the Bluegrass", and "The Man in the Brown Suit". Rupp, who was an early innovator of the fast break and set offense, quickly gained a reputation as an intense competitor, a strict motivator, and a fine strategist, often driving his teams to great levels of success.

Year-by-year results[edit]

Season Coach Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Adolph Rupp (Southeastern) (1932–1972)
1932–33 Adolph Rupp 21-3 8-0 1st Helms National Champion
1933–34 Adolph Rupp 16-1 11-0 1st
1934–35 Adolph Rupp 19-2 11-0 1st
1935–36 Adolph Rupp 15-6 6-2 2nd
1936–37 Adolph Rupp 17-5 5-3 1st
1937–38 Adolph Rupp 13-5 6-0 2nd
1938–39 Adolph Rupp 16-4 5-2 1st
1939–40 Adolph Rupp 15-6 4-4 1st
1940–41 Adolph Rupp 17-8 8-1 2nd
1941–42 Adolph Rupp 19-6 6-2 1st NCAA Final Four
1942–43 Adolph Rupp 17-6 8-1 2nd
1943–44 Adolph Rupp 19-2 1st NIT Third Place
1944–45 Adolph Rupp 22-4 5-0 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1945–46 Adolph Rupp 28-2 6-0 1st NIT Champions
1946–47 Adolph Rupp 34-3 11-0 1st NIT Runner-up
1947–48 Adolph Rupp 36-3 9-0 1st NCAA Champions
1948–49 Adolph Rupp 32-2 13-0 1st NCAA Champions
1949–50 Adolph Rupp 25-5 11-2 1st NIT First Round
1950–51 Adolph Rupp 32-2 14-0 1st NCAA Champions
1951–52 Adolph Rupp 29-3 14-0 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1952–53 No season
1953–54 Adolph Rupp 25-0 15-0 1st declined NCAA bid
1954–55 Adolph Rupp 23-3 12-2 1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1955–56 Adolph Rupp 20-6 12-2 2nd NCAA Elite Eight
1956–57 Adolph Rupp 23-5 12-2 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1957–58 Adolph Rupp 23-6 12-2 1st NCAA Champion
1958–59 Adolph Rupp 24-3 12-2 2nd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1959–60 Adolph Rupp 18-7 10-4 3rd
1960–61 Adolph Rupp 19-9 11-4 2nd NCAA Elite Eight
1961–62 Adolph Rupp 23-3 13-1 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1962–63 Adolph Rupp 16-9 8-6 5th
1963–64 Adolph Rupp 21-6 11-3 1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1964–65 Adolph Rupp 15-10 10-6 5th
1965–66 Adolph Rupp 27-2 15-1 1st NCAA Runner-up
1966–67 Adolph Rupp 13-13 8-10 5th
1967–68 Adolph Rupp 22-5 15-3 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1968–69 Adolph Rupp 23-5 16-2 1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1969–70 Adolph Rupp 26-2 17-1 1st NCAA Elite Eight
1970–71 Adolph Rupp 22-6 16-2 1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1971–72 Adolph Rupp 21-7 14-4 1st NCAA Elite Eight
Total: 876-190

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


NBA draft picks[edit]

Kentucky Wildcats under Adolph Rupp selected in the NBA Draft
Draft Player name Position NBA team

[A 1]

Year Round Pick Overall
1947 Jack Tingle F Washington Capitols
1948 Joe Holland F Baltimore Bullets
Jack Parkinson G Washington Capitols
Ken Rollins G Fort Wayne Pistons
1949 1 2 2 Alex Groza* F Indianapolis Olympians NBA All-Star (1951)
All-NBA First Team (1950)
All-NBA First Team (1951)
1 6 6 Wallace Jones G Washington Capitols
2 22 Ralph Beard* G Chicago Stags NBA All-Star (1951)
All-NBA First Team (1951)
All-NBA Second Team (1950)
1950 Dale Barnstable F Boston Celtics
Jim Line F Washington Capitols
1952 Bobby Watson G Milwaukee Hawks
Skippy Whitaker G Indianapolis Olympians
1953 1 5 5 Frank Ramsey G Boston Celtics NBA Champion (1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964)
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee (1981)
3 13 Cliff Hagan G Boston Celtics NBA Champion (1958)
NBA All-Star (1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962)
All-NBA Second Team (1958, 1959)
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee (1977)
7 23 Lou Tsioropoulos F Boston Celtics NBA Champion (1957, 1959)
1955 5 2 32 Billy Evans F Rochester Royals
1956 Jerry Bird G Minneapolis Lakers
Bob Burrow F Rochester Royals
Phil Grawemeyer Minneapolis Lakers
1957 10 4 73 Gerry Calvert G Philadelphia 76ers
1958 2 2 9 Vernon Hatton F Cincinnati Royals
1959 4 6 28 Johnny Cox G New York Knicks
1960 4 8 32 Sid Cohen G Boston Celtics
7 5 53 Bernie Kauffman G Syracuse Nationals
18 2 96 Don Mills G Cincinnati Royals
1961 5 4 45 Bill Lickert G, F Los Angeles Lakers
7 5 64 Roger Newman G, F Syracuse Nationals
13 1 102 Ned Jennings C New York Knicks
1962 8 1 61 Larry Pursiful F Chicago Zephyrs
1964 2 5 13 Cotton Nash F Los Angeles Lakers
1966 3 4 24 Tommy Kron G St. Louis Hawks
1967 1 1 7 Pat Riley G, F San Diego Rockets NBA Champion (1972, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2006, 2012, 2013)
NBA Coach of the Year (1990, 1993, 1997)
NBA Executive of the Year (2011)
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee (2008)
4 7 28 Louie Dampier G Cincinnati Royals ABA Champion (1975)
ABA All-Star (1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975)
All-ABA Second Team (1968, 1969, 1970, 1974)
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee (2015)
1965 5 10 60 Thad Jaracz F Boston Celtics
9 13 119 Cliff Berger F Milwaukee Bucks
1969 10 15 139 Phil Argento G Los Angeles Lakers
1970 8 3 122 Dan Issel F Detroit Pistons ABA Champion (1975)
NBA All-Star (1977)
ABA All-Star (1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976)
ABA All-Star Game MVP (1972)
ABA Rookie of the Year (1971)
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee (1993)
8 11 130 Mike Casey F Chicago Bulls
1971 3 2 37 Larry Steele F Portland Trail Blazers NBA Champion (1977)

Fabulous Five[edit]

The 1948 Kentucky Wildcats not only won the 1948 NCAA title, but provided the core of the United States 1948 Olympic team that won the gold medal in the London Games. The core of five players that made up the Fabulous Five were Ralph Beard, Alex Groza, Wallace 'Wah Wah' Jones, Cliff Barker and Kenny Rollins.

A year later in 1949, the same team would win back-to-back champions, making Kentucky only the second team to repeat after Oklahoma A&M (Now Oklahoma State).

The Fabulous Five are considered one of the greatest teams in Kentucky basketball history. Over two seasons the Fabulous Five compiled a 68–5 record with two consecutive NCAA Championships.

Point Shaving Scandal[edit]

On October 20, 1951, former Kentucky players Alex Groza, Ralph Beard, and Dale Barnstable were arrested for taking bribes from gamblers to shave points during the National Invitation Tournament game against the Loyola Ramblers in the 1948–49 season.[1] This game occurred during the same year that Kentucky won their second straight NCAA title under Rupp.[2] Rupp and the university were criticized by the presiding judge, Saul Streit, for creating an atmosphere for the violations to occur and for "failing in his duty to observe the amateur rules, to build character, and to protect the morals and health of his charges".[3] Rupp denied any knowledge of the point shaving and no evidence was ever brought against him to show he was connected to the incident in any way.[4]

At the conclusion of this scandal, a subsequent NCAA investigation found that Kentucky had committed several rule violations, including giving illegal spending money to players on several occasions, and also allowing some ineligible athletes to compete.[4] As a result, the Southeastern Conference voted to ban Kentucky from competing for a year and the NCAA requested all other basketball-playing members not to schedule Kentucky, with eventually none doing so.[5] As a result of these actions, Kentucky was forced to cancel the entire 1952–53 basketball season. Years later, Walter Byers, the first executive director of the NCAA, unofficially referred to this punishment as the first de facto NCAA death penalty, despite the current rule first coming into effect in 1985, thus the NCAA having no such enforcement power previous to that.[6][7] Echoing Mr. Byers' view, the NCAA's official stance is very much the same, and they now state in hindsight, "In effect, it was the Association's first death penalty, though its enforcement was binding only through constitutional language that required members to compete against only those schools that were compliant with NCAA rules. Despite fears that it would resist, Kentucky accepts the penalty and, in turn, gives the NCAA credibility to enforce its rules."[8]

A perfect season[edit]

The team returned with a vengeance the next year, posting a perfect 25–0 record (Rupp's only undefeated season), for which it was awarded the 1954 Helms National Championship. In addition, Kentucky also finished ranked #1 in the final Associated Press poll. On the team were three players who had graduated at the conclusion of the previous academic year. When, at the last minute, the NCAA ruled these players ineligible from post-season play, Rupp decided to skip the 1954 NCAA Tournament in protest.[9]

Fiddlin' Five[edit]

Before the 1957–58 season began, Coach Adolph Rupp commented about the upcoming season, "They might be pretty good barnyard fiddlers, but we have a Carnegie Hall schedule, and it will take violinists to play that competition". When the Wildcats became notorious for, as Rupp put it, "fiddlin' around and fiddlin' around then finally pulling it our at the end," the team was tagged with the nickname "The Fiddlin' Five." The "Fiddlin' Five" became Rupp's fourth national championship team when it defeated Elgin Baylor and Seattle in the title game at Louisville's Freedom Hall, 84-72. After the game Rupp said, "Those boys certainly are not concert violinists, but they sure can fiddle."

Rupp's Runts[edit]

The last of Rupp's most heralded teams were the Rupp's Runts. With no starter taller than 6'5", was arguably the most beloved in UK history. Despite its lack of size, it used devastating defensive pressure and a fast-paced offense to take a 27–1 record and top national ranking into the NCAA final against Texas Western.

The now historic 1966 NCAA championship game against Texas Western (now University of Texas at El Paso or UTEP) marked the first occurrence that an all-white starting five (Kentucky) played an all-black starting five (Texas Western) in the NCAA championship game. Texas Western won the game 72–65, on the night of March 19, 1966. This game, and the result of it, were especially significant as the game came at a time when the civil rights movement was coming into full swing around the country. In 1969, after actively recruiting black players for over six years (despite most of the other SEC teams threatening to boycott if a black player took the court), Rupp finally signed his first black player, Tom Payne, an athletic 7'-1" center out of Louisville. This ended the aspect of all-white Kentucky teams forever, and marked a new era with many notable black Kentucky basketball legends, including Jack Givens, Sam Bowie, Kenny Walker, Jamal Mashburn, Tayshaun Prince, Rajon Rondo, John Wall, and Anthony Davis.[10]

Rupp Arena[edit]

Adolph Rupp left a lasting legacy on the Wildcats basketball program. In the fall of 1975 Lexington opened a new basketball arena for the Kentucky basketball program. The Wildcats moved off campus from Memorial Coliseum to Rupp Arena in the downtown metroplex. Appropriately the arena was named after the man that had built the program's tradition in the forty years that he was head coach. With an official capacity of 23,500, it is the largest arena designed specifically for basketball, as well as the largest indoor arena by capacity, in the United States. In Rupp Arena, the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team regularly leads the nation in college basketball home attendance.[11] The arena also regularly hosts NCAA tournament games including as the host of the 1985 NCAA Final Four, won in an upset by eighth-seeded Villanova.


  1. ^ This is the team that drafted the player, not their most recent team.


  1. ^ "O'Connor Asks Leniency, Praises 'Co-Operation'". The Lexington Herald. 1952-04-30. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  2. ^ Goldstein, Joe (2003-11-19). "Explosion: 1951 scandals threaten college hoops". ESPN. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  3. ^ Associated Press (1952-04-30). Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  4. ^ a b Breslin, Jimmy (March 1953). "Kentucky Apologizes for Nothing!". Sports Magazine. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  5. ^ "UK Suspended from SEC Basketball For One Year". The Lexington Herald. 1952-08-12. Retrieved 2012-01-08.
  6. ^ Byers, Walter (1995). "Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Exploiting College Athletics". University of Michigan Press.
  7. ^ ESPN (2009). College Basketball Encyclopedia: The Complete History of the Men's Game. New York: Random House Publishing Group. p. 236. ISBN 978-0-345-51392-2.
  8. ^ "NCAA Chronology of Enforement". NCAA. Archived from the original on December 26, 2011. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  9. ^ 1953–54 Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team
  10. ^ "Adolph Rupp: Fact and Fiction". Retrieved October 13, 2011.
  11. ^ "NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Attendance Leaders Year-by-Year (1970-2011)" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 2011-12-24.