By LARRY VAUGHT
It will be 30 years ago in December when Kansas gave Kentucky and first-year coach Rick Pitino a butt-whipping. Not only did the Jayhawks win, they demolished Kentucky 150-95.
It was UK’s worst defeat and the most points Kansas ever scored in a collegiate game.
Pitino called the loss “embarrassing” but he never had his team quit pressing and running. Kansas coach Roy Williams said everything the Jayhawks touched turned to “gold” and said it was not his fault the score got so lopsided
One of Kentucky’s players in that game was Reggie Hanson.
“It was over before you knew it,” Hanson admitted. “Rick kept pressing, Him and Roy Williams were going back and forth, Rick thinking Roy is running up the score and Roy telling Rick to quit pressing so they would not score.”
Hanson admits the Cats were wondering why they were continuing to press instead of slowing the game down and going to a zone against No. 2 Kansas. Later he came to understand the message Pitino was sending to the team and UK fans.
“That was his fist year running the program. His success as a coach came from pressing, running, shooting 3’s. He had to establish that foundation,” Hanson said. “He wanted every player, every staff person to understand that is how we were going to play.
“He basically said he was not changing his style because we were short handed or he was not trusting the process. We got to the level (of success) a lot quicker than people thought. Kansas killed us but we finished the season with 14 wins and we were predicted to win maybe five. Second year we won the SEC. We learned to trust the process.”
One Hanson memory from the game I forgot involved then UK assistant coach Tubby Smith.
“Tubby was not at that game. He was out recruiting (something assistants did a lot even when the team was playing 30 years ago),” Hanson said. “Rumor has it Tubby turns on the radio at halftime and we were down 30 and he just left and turned the game off because he didn’t want to know how bad it was going to end up.”