BTI's Rants and Ramblings: Who will become the legend?

Bryan the Internover 10 years

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Aritcle written by:Bryan the InternBryan the Intern
Below you will find the most memorable tournaments had by UK players of the years.  Some of the guys below did not win national titles or even make the Final Four, but their individual play will never be forgotten for one 2-week stretch.  In fact, a couple of national championship seasons had no heroes.  Some guys (Jeff Sheppard) had fantastic games, but not overall great tournaments, and thus they were left off.  The question is: Who can become the legend this year? 1949: Alex Groza Averages (3 games): 27.3 ppg Legend: In leading UK to its 2nd straight national title, Groza was a one-man show for the entire tournament.  Just how dominant was he?  In the title game against Oklahoma A&M, Kentucky scored a total 46 points.  Groza scored 25 of those and was the only UK player who scored more than 5 points in the game. 1956: Bob Burrow Averages (2 games): 32 ppg Legend: Despite the Cats losing in the Elite 8 against Iowa, Burrow was nearly unstoppable, scoring 31 and 33 points in the 2 games.  He also pulled down 12 boards in the loss to Iowa.  1958: Vernon Hatton Averages (4 games): 20.3 ppg Legend: Scored 30 points in the NCAA title game against Seattle, but made a legend of himself in hitting the game winner with 16 seconds left in the Final 4 against Temple.  While Johnny Cox actually scored more points in that tournament, Hatton became the legend. 1966: Pat Riley Averages (4 games): 24 ppg Legend: How good was Pat Riley in this tournament?  Well, Kentucky played in 4 games, a total of 160 minutes.  How many did Riley play?  That would be 160 minutes.  He never came out of the game, scored 29 points in each of the first 2 rounds, and 19 in each of the Final 4 games, including against Texas Western.  The most legendary of Rupp's Runts. 1970: Dan Issel Averages (2 games): 44 ppg, 11.5 rpg Legend: Not that Issel needed a strong tournament to cement his legend status, but he scored 44 points in the 1st round and 28 in a 2nd round upset loss to Jacksonville.  Although it ended on a sour note with Issel fouling out, on an individual basis the performance in those 2 games was legendary. 1978: Jack Givens Averages (5 games): 20.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg Legend: The final game alone makes Goose a legend.  41 points and 8 rebounds against Duke in his final game as a Cat.  But Givens also poured in 23 points in the Final 4 game against Arkansas.  1985: Kenny Walker Averages (3 games): 25 ppg, 8 rpg Legend: Walker led an underdog UK team into the Sweet 16 in Joe B. Hall's final season.  Despite not being favored in any game, Sky scored 29, 23, and 23 before going down to St. Johns.  1986: Kenny Walker Averages (4 games): 23.5 ppg, 35-50 FG Legend: In the first and second round games, Walker shot an unbelievable 18-20 from the field.  And even in the upset loss to LSU in the Elite 8, Walker scored 20 points and was 8-11 from the field.  Certainly wasn't his fault for that upset. 1992: Jamal Mashburn Averages (4 games): 24 ppg, 34-58 FG Legend: God bless the Unforgettables, but Mashburn was the star in the 1992 tournament.  After shooting just 3-13 in the 1st round game, Mashburn shot 31-45 for the rest of the tournament.  That is a 69% field goal percentage, something you normally only see from centers.  1996: Tony Delk Averages (6 games): 18.8 ppg Legend: Honestly, Delk only had an average tournament compared to other guys on this list. BUT, his championship game vaults him into this group.  7 three pointers that gave UK it's first title in 18 years, also capping an amazing career, and Delk became a legend that night. 2002: Tayshaun Prince Averages (3 games): 23.7 ppg Legend: His 41-point outburst in the 2nd round was only matched by Goose Givens.  He put a "troubled" team on his back for those 3 games, just coming up short against national champion Maryland.  But, like many above him, he made his final games in a UK uniform count. 2008: Joe Crawford Averages (1 game): 35 ppg, 13-22 FG, 8 rpg Legend: The only player who makes the list over 1 game, Crawford likely fought harder to win a game than any player in the last decade against Marquette.  In that game, Kentucky only had FOUR players score in the entire game.  And Crawford scored over half of his team's points.  While his career doesn't match many above, this one game endeared him to many UK fans forever.

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2021-09-23