By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky will welcome back former player Walter McCarty, a part of UK’s 1996 national championship team, to Rupp Arena Nov. 12 when he brings Evansville to play John Calipari’s team. This is McCarty’s second season as head coach of the Aces and one of his first priorities was to start working on a game with Kentucky.
The Evansville Courier & Press recently obtained the game contract showing that Kentucky is paying Evansville $90,000 for the game that will be shown on the SEC Network and give the Aces some national exposure.
McCarty played at UK from 1993-96 and finished his career with 946 points, 522 rebounds, 181 assists, 108 blocked shots and 91 steals in 103 games. He was a career 52 percent shooter from the field, including 40 percent from 3-point range.
He was part of the greatest comeback in UK history when the Cats overcame a 31-point deficit in the final 15 minutes to win at LSU. He had 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range, in 32 minutes in the win. He also had eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
“He just kept hitting big shots for them,” former LSU coach Dale Brown said. “We just couldn’t find a way to guard him and with his size, even when we did he just shot over us. He was special.”
McCarty, an Evansville native, played 10 years in the NBA and was even on the Boston Celtics coaching staff. He went 11-21 in his first season as Evansville’s head coach but is expecting a much better season with the goal of ending a NCAA Tournament drought that goes back to 1999.
“I think we have enough to be very competitive and successful,” McCarty said at the Missouri Valley Conference Media Day,”“We just have to go out there and do it. Nothing is going to be given to us. We have to go out there and earn it. But we have the type of roster that can compete now.”
Whether his team can compete against Kentucky, though, remains to be seen.