The 2019-20 college basketball season came to an abrupt end last week with the cancelation of the NCAA Tournament due to Coronavirus fears.
With that, the Kentucky Wildcats season is over. The Cats finished the season 25-6 with a 15-3 conference record that earned the program their 49th SEC regular season title.
Kentucky also saw four players and head coach John Calipari take home major conference awards.
Immanuel Quickley led the charge as he was named SEC Player of the Year and First-Team all-SEC. Nick Richards took home First-Team All-SEC and Defensive-Team Honors, Tyrese Maxey earned Second-Team All-SEC and SEC All-Freshman honors, Ashton Hagans earned Defensive-Team Honors and Calipari was named SEC Coach of the Year.
Regardless of who won what award, these Wildcats will be remembered from some of the memories they provided fans on the court.
Here are the top 10 moments the 2019-20 Kentucky Wildcats provided the Big Blue Nation.
10. Hagans dominants Georgia again
Despite his ups and downs, Ashton Hagans always shows up when he takes on the school he once committed to: the University of Georgia. Kentucky’s Jan. 21 matchup with the Bulldogs was no different for the sophomore.
The peach state native closed in on a double-double as he dropped 23 points, dished out nine assists while adding five rebound and four steals.
Hagans’ big performance led the Wildcats to an 89-79 win over Georgia as they swept their two-game regular season series.
9. Losing streak on Rocky Top ends
On Feb. 8th, the Wildcats marched into Thomas-Bowling Arena in Knoxville, determined to break their four-year losing streak on Rocky Top.
Breaking the streak is exactly what happened as Quickley led the way with 18 points and freshman Johnny Juzang scored a career-high 13 points after shooting a perfect 3-3 from downtown.
Meanwhile, Kentucky clamped down on Tennessee’s shooters holding the Vols to a 34.5% shooting clip from the field and 7-26 from behind the three-point line as the Cats closed out a 77-64 win on Rocky Top to end the four-year skid.
8. Richards scores 25 in the second half vs. Mississippi State
At no point in Kentucky’s Febuary matchup with Mississippi State did it feel as if the Cats would lose but there was one thing worrying the Big Blue Nation in the first half; what’s wrong with Nick Richards?
The Kentucky center and at the time, SEC Player of the Year favorite was held to just two points in the first half but in the second half he’d put together a classic performance.
Richards dropped 25 second half points to finish with a career-high 27. The 7-footer also grabbed 11 rebounds as the Cats defeated the Bulldogs 80-72 assuring John Calipari’s perfect record agaisnt Mississippi State as Kentucky head coach stayed in tact.
7. No Cal, no problem in Fayetteville
Just one game after blowing a 15-point second half lead and losing to South Carolina, the Wildcats were again in trouble on Jan. 18.
This time, Kentucky blew an 11-point second half lead to the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville and needed to find a way to regain momentum.
That moment came when Calipari was ejected from the game after picking up his second technical foul. The Arkansas crowd went wild as they hoped knocking out Cal would be the death blow to the entire UK team.
The Wildcats would not let that happen as they went on a stunning 15-0 run to turn a three-point deficit into a 12-point lead they would not surrender. After the game, Calipari declared his team “player-driven”.
6. Cats ride home crowd past Auburn, clinch SEC crown
Revenge was on the Wildcats mind entering a home contest against the Auburn Tigers with just three regular season games to play. The Tigers took down the Wildcats earlier in the season and still held bragging rights from the 2019 Elite Eight.
In the first half, it looked like the Tigers hot streak against the Cats would continue as Auburn jumped out to an early nine-point lead. That would change quickly, as Kentucky put together an 18-3 run to retake the lead.
From there, the Cats never looked back as Quickley’s 18 point, 12 rebound double-double helped Kentucky finally defeat Auburn and clinch their 49th SEC regular season title in program history.
5. Cats hold on in Lubbock
The Wildcats entered a hostile environment they had not seen since 1965 when they traveled to Lubbock, Texas to take on Texas Tech in their 2010 Big 12/SEC challenge matchup.
In front of their home crowd, the Red Raiders battled the Cats nearly bucket for bucket until, UK found a way to take a 10 point lead with just over 15 minutes left in the game.
Texas Tech would not quit, as they rallied back to tie the game with 18 seconds to play and force overtime.
There, Nick Richards played hero for the Wildcats as he scored seven points, including a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining to ice a 76-74 UK win.
4. Immanuel Quickley drops 30 on Texas A&M
No player in the SEC was playing better basketball than Immanuel Quickley entering Kentucky’s late February showdown against Texas A&M in College Station.
Looking to finish his case for SEC player of the year, Quickley punished the Aggies. The sophomore sharpshooter nailed eight three-pointers on 12 attempts and went onto finish the night with 30 points.
Meanwhile, Kentucky held the Aggies to just 60 points as they picked up a 69-60 road victory to move one game away from the SEC regular season crown.
3. Tyrese Maxey’s opening day statement
On Nov. 5, the Wildcats faced the daunting task of taking on No. 1 Michigan State in the 2019 Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden to open the new season.
While several veterans on both teams’ looked sluggish, Kentucky freshman Tyrese Maxey looked made quite the career debut.
The Texas native dropped 26 points off the Wildcats bench after shooting 7-12 from the field, 3-7 from behind the three-point line and 9-10 from the charity stripe.
Maxey’s monster debut guided Kentucky to a 69-62 victory, which erased the brutal memories of their ugly 2018 Champions Classic loss to Duke.
2. Overtime victory over No. 3 Louisville
After dropping two games in Las Vegas, the Wildcats looked to get back on track when they played host to their in-state rival Louisville Cardinals. The Cards entered the matchup ranked third in the country and had only suffered one defeat on the year.
Kentucky appeared to break out of their dry spell as they took an eight-point lead into the halftime locker room and held the Cardinals to just 24 first half points. Louisville wasn’t yet dead, however, as they overcame a 12 point halftime deficit to reclaim the lead with 9:38 to play after a Steven Enoch three-pointer.
From there, both teams’ traded buckets and left regulation tied at 61. In overtime, it was all Wildcats. UK outscored the Cards 17-9 in the period as Ashton Hagans sealed the game with a transition dunk with four seconds remaining to send Rupp Arena into a frenzy and put the Wildcats season back on track.
1. Comeback in Gainesville
While it’s hard to top an all-time classic victory over Louisville, Kentucky’s regular season finale earns the top spot on this list.
On Mar. 7, Kentucky traveled to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators without a disgruntled Ashton Hagans. Early on, the game was a nightmare as Florida dominated the first half to take a 10-point halftime lead.
Things went from bad to worse early on in the second half as Florida took an 18-point lead with 11:55 to go. To make matters worse, SEC Player of the Year Immanuel Quickley fouled out for the Wildcats with the team down 12 and still 9:04 minutes left on the clock.
Despite all odds against them, Kentucky found a way to shock Gator nation as they went on a stunning run to pull within just one point with 59 seconds to play.
With 12 seconds left, the Wildcats who had never led in the game, completed the comeback as EJ Montgomery tipped in a Keion Brooks miss to shock Florida and give Kentucky an ultimate exclamation point on a season that ended too early.