Kentucky entered the 1992-93 season ranked #5 in the pre-season AP poll and with a bona fide star in 6-8 forward Jamal Mashburn, a fearless floor general in Travis Ford, and a heralded recruiting class led by junior college transfer Rodney Dent and high school All-American Tony Delk.
And Pitino’s crew quickly delivered on the hype. The Wildcats stormed out to an 11-0 record that included victories over #13 Georgia Tech, #9 Louisville, and #4 Indiana. That pushed Kentucky to the top of the AP poll.
Kentucky finished the regular season 23-3 and won the SEC Tournament over LSU. As a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Kentucky dispatched Rider in the opening round, dropped Utah by 21 in the second round, and clobbered Wake Forest 103-69 before downing Florida State 106-81 to reach the program’s 10th Final Four and its first since 1984.
“We’re very excited about our basketball team,” Pitino said as the national semifinal tilt against Michigan and its Fab Five approached. “We’re playing very good basketball and that’s what you want going into this.”
Though the Wildcats would lose an overtime heartbreaker to Michigan 81-78 in the national semifinals, they had proven their mettle and taken another step in their reclamation project.
“We’re proud of Kentucky,” Pitino said after the loss.