Kentucky Basketball: Wildcats' 5 Best Single-Game Performances in Past Decade
In the past 10 years, the Kentucky basketball program has continued to be one of the most prestigious and dominant programs in college basketball. A large part of this is due to the coaching of Tubby Smith and John Calipari. Heck, you could even say Billy Gillispie because of some dominant single-game showings while he was head coach.
Since 2003-04, the Wildcats have made three Final Fours and five Elite Eights. Throw in a championship in 2012 and a runner-up in 2014 and it's hard to debate the program's success.
Besides the success of the team, players like Chuck Hayes, Rajon Rondo, Jodie Meeks, John Wall, Brandon Knight, Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel have all had an impact and strong single-game performances.
This slideshow will take a look at the five best single-game performances by a Wildcat over the last decade. Whether it's record-setting or impressive stats in a big game, the list will take all accounts into consideration. As always, leave your thoughts in the comments section.
5. Jodie Meeks Sets a Bud Walton Arena Record
There were few things to enjoy about the Billy Gillispie era in Lexington; however, Jodie Meeks and his unbelievable ability to put the ball through the hoop was one of them.
In a 79-63 win at Arkansas, Meeks set a Bud Walton Arena record by scoring 45 points in the win. The junior gave a balanced effort, scoring 22 points in the first half and then 23 in the second. Meeks shot an impressive 70.8 percent from the field, going 17-of-24, including 7-of-12 from behind the line.
Most impressively, Meeks did this with a minimal supporting cast due to Patrick Patterson spraining an ankle and missing the game. It was the third time that season Meeks went over 40 points in a game.
Any away game in conference play is a difficult contest, and Bud Walton Arena is one of the tougher venues. It is the fifth largest on-campus arena with a capacity of 19,368 and often draws a loud crowd for Kentucky games.
4. Nerlens Noel Rejects Ole Miss
How can a player have such a significant game by only scoring two points? By blocking 12 shots, including a couple of them right at the rim to help cement a much-needed win.
That's exactly what Nerlens Noel did on Jan. 30, 2013 against No. 16 Ole Miss.
The star freshman had a great game despite being limited on the offensive side of the floor. Noel only attempted one shot. What might be the most impressive part of this game is that he recorded five of his 12 blocks after picking up his fourth foul.
The 12 blocks in a game is a Kentucky school record and one that should stand for a long time.
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Makes His Name
In a heated game against an archrival, it's rare to see a freshman decide things in a positive manner. However, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist did exactly that against Louisville in 2011 by dropping 24 points and grabbing 19 rebounds in a 69-62 win.
Kidd-Gilchrist seemed to come through when it mattered the most during the game as well. With the game tied at 40, Louisville's Peyton Siva missed a jumper that turned into a 7-0 run for Kentucky sparked by Kidd-Gilchrist. The freshman had a layup and made one of two free throws to extend the Wildcats' lead.
In a game that saw 52 fouls, Kidd-Gilchrist provided the lone scoring threat from the field for the Wildcats early on. After a Darius Miller three gave them a 3-2 lead, Kidd-Gilchrist was the only Kentucky player to score from the field over the next 13 minutes.
2. Brandon Knight Helps Kentucky Get Revenge
One year after West Virginia sent a favored Kentucky team home in the Elite Eight, the two teams would match up in the round of 32. This time things would be different, though, thanks in part to a scrawny freshman from Florida, who had one of the most impressive tournaments in Kentucky history.
After hitting a game-winning shot over Princeton in this first game, Knight scored a career-high 30 points against West Virginia to lead Kentucky to a 71-63 victory, which helped propel the Wildcats to a Final Four run.
Knight was clutch again for the Wildcats as he drilled six free throws in the last minute to help seal the victory. He also provided a giant surge for Kentucky when he hit a three and a layup during an 11-0 run to open the second half.
1. Jodie Meeks Breaks the Record
Dan Issel once held a record that seemed to be untouchable. He scored 53 points in a single game. Jodie Meeks then came along 39 years later and one-upped Issel, literally.
In a game against rival Tennessee, Meeks scorched the Volunteers for 54 points. Not only was this impressive against a rival, but it was done on the road, where Meeks seemed to thrive the most during his record-setting junior year.
Meeks played in 39 of the 40 minutes and went 15-of-22 from the field, including 10-of-15 from behind the arc. He also didn't miss from the free-throw line, where he went 14-of-14.
It wasn't just scoring for Meeks though, as he pitched in with eight rebounds and four assists. The 54 points were also the most points scored in a SEC game since Chris Jackson tallied 55 for LSU against Ole Miss in 1989.