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H.V.S. Classics | UMass vs. Kentucky '95

Posted on July 28 2019


DirecTV Great Eight  | November 28, 1995

The Palace| Auburn Hills, Michigan

Announcers |Dick Vitale, Brad Nessler

UMASS- 92

Starters: E. Padilla | C. Travieso | D. Dingle | D. Bright | M. Camby

Kentucky - 82

Starters: T. Delk | D. Anderson | R. Mercer | W. McCarty | M. Pope 

 

Kentucky and UMass would meet twice in the '95-96 season.  Once at the beginning of the year and again at the end in the Final Four.  Kentucky wins the important one in March and goes on to win the National Championship 2 nights later when they beat Syracuse but the first meeting between these two teams stands out of a few reasons.  It was the first game of the season for both teams so no one really knew how good either team was.  I vividly remember people in Southern Indiana (where I grew up) saying that Kentucky's 2nd unit would be ranked #2 in the country behind their first unit if they weren't on the same team.   

No one in Southern Indiana was talking about UMass until this game when they came out and smacked the Wildcats by 10 to send shockwaves through college basketball.  The "Refuse to Lose" Minutemen would go on to reel off 26 wins in a row to start the season and finishing the regular season 31-1.  I remember watching this game with my dad and being in awe of Marcus Camby.  He was dominant.  The teams performance was dominant.  And after it was over the entire country knew that UMass was going to be a problem. - JB

It seems impossible now but I liked Kentucky at the time. While this might not seem out of place in Southern Indiana. In NW Indiana it was about as common as a Duke fan. Still, there was something about the unprecedented level of talent and experience that Pitino was able to accumulate. I remember liking Mercer at the time and thinking he could be a Pippen like wing in the NBA. 

 Marcus Camby too was a revelation. He was impossibly long and agile and good. This was the first year of my life that we had cable. I remember seeing this game and immolating on the couch as my fever dream to play college basketball met the reality of Marcus Camby. Camby's size and athletism are still astounding. - AM

 


Best Announcer Commentary - 51:40 Vitale talking about Camby setting the tone at the start of the second half. "Oh Yes, Big Time Jam, He's a high riser, He's an elevator man." 

 Would this game be better with Bill Walton as the color commentator - I would've enjoyed it. It again fits right into his wheelhouse. I can imagine the exchange going like this, “Marcus Camby is one of the true marvels, not just of basketball, or in America, but in the history of Western Civilization!” Play by Play guy: “Wow, that’s a pretty strong statement. I guess I don’t have a good handle on world history.” Bill: “Well, that’s because you didn’t go to UCLA.” 

 Coaching Moment - The gutsy choice by Calipari to press and continue to pressure Kentucky beating them at their own game. He might not be the best Xs and Os coach but he has never lacked confidence. 

Best Retro Style- The coaches slicked back hari and the UMass uniforms.  One of the younger coaches needs to own this.  Not to mention Pitino's tie.  Legit.

Worst Retro Style- The cut off t-shirts under the jerseys with the cut angling down so that they stuck out at the shoulder in an angular fashion.  This used to piss me off even back in high school.  How hard is it to cut the shirt off so it only shows under your neck?  

 

Half-Assed Internet Research - They won 26 straight and earned the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press top 25 poll. News stories from today sound a lot like the news stories of 1996 (Several weeks after the tournament, The Hartford Courant quoted Camby as saying that he had taken gifts from Wesley Spears, a lawyer from West Hartford, including jewelry worth $5,300. Camby said Spears wanted to represent him as a sports agent and that Spears threatened to tell the news media about the gifts. Spears has since been charged with extortion in his dealings with Camby. Camby has said he also received gifts from another sports agent.) Camby got hurt late in the season and it looked like they might bow out early.

 The Kentucky Team was known as The Untouchables. They scored at least 80 points in 28 of 34 games. Frank Vogel current Lakers head coach was a student manager for this team after transferring from a Division III school where he had played basketball. Sporting News Called this team the best in college basketball history. Check out chasing ghosts on ESPN 

 Best Play - 59:05 Not usually a defensive play but this blocked shot encapsulates the game. Camby and the zone controlling the pace and space of the floor for UMass. His passion and enthusiasm even as he gets subbed out is contagious to his teammates. Very Solid Play of the Game - 25:02 Camby not only making spectacular plays but steps in on McCarty to take a charge. You know you want to win when you are the best shot-blocker in the history of your school and are still willing to take a charge. 

Would These Teams be Good Today 

 Kentucky - Size, athletism, an all-time coach. They would be spectacular. I actually think they would've been even better shooting more threes and playing up and down. 

UMass -  Camby too would've been better today as long as he could shape his jump shot into something that could hit threes. 

 Game Ball - Got to be Camby. 32 Points, 9 Rebounds, and 5 Blocks and who knows how many shots altered. It is amazing in a team sport to watch a single player control a game.

 

Josh Barnett

H.V.S. | 19NINE

Aaron Meyer

"The Suit" | H.V.S.

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