Kentucky opens the postseason this week at the SEC Tournament in Nashville, playing in the event's first round for the first time since the renewal in 1979. The Wildcats finished third in the SEC East, failing to capture a first-round bye for the first time since the league split into divisions in 1992. The Wildcats, 9-7 in SEC, face Ole Miss in the tournament's second game Thursday. Kentucky doubled up the Rebels, 80-40, two weeks ago in Lexington, a game that Ole Miss' leading scorer, Dwayne Curtis, missed to attend his brother's funeral. The Rebels have lost five in a row, while UK closed out the year winning four of its last six conference games. Kentucky is 107-18 all-time in SEC Tournament action, 50-13 since the tourney was renewed in 1979 and 34-4 since the league expanded in 1992. This is the 47th SEC Tournament, and UK has won more than half (25) the titles despite playing in just 44 previous events. Kentucky has posted a winning record in SEC play for 17-straight years, the best streak in the league. Florida's eight-consecutive winning seasons rank second.
• The Cats are 5-0 all-time at the Gaylord Entertainment Center, winning the 2001 SEC Tournament there. • Kentucky has won 25 of the 47 all-time SEC Tournament titles, despite appearing in only 44 previous events. • UK great Ralph Beard will represent Kentucky as its "SEC Legend" at this week's SEC Tourney. • Ole Miss (0-12) and Georgia (0-8) have never recroded a win vs. UK in the SEC Tournament. • Tubby Smith is 21-5 all-time in SECTournament games, which ranks third all-time in SEC history. • In Tubby Smith's nine years, UK is 104-2 (.981) when shooting 50 percent or better. • After shooting .429 in non-conference action, UK shot .476 in SEC play (second in the league). • Randolph Morris shot .624 from the field in SEC action, the league's second-highest field goal percentage.
INSIDE THE SEC NUMBERS UK is the only team to own 100 SEC Tournament wins (107) ... Kentucky is 107-18 overall in SEC Tournament action, 50-13 since the tourney was renewed in 1979, and 34-4 since the league expanded in 1992 ... This is the 47th SEC Tournament, and UK has won more than half (25) the titles despite playing in just 44 previous events ... UK has won 34 of its last 38 SEC Tourney games ... Since the tournament was renewed in 1979, UK is 18-0 in semifinal games and 13-5 in title games ... Georgia (0-8) and Ole Miss (0-12) have never beaten UK in the SEC Tournament ... Since the league split in 1992, UK has earned the No. 1 seed eight times and the No. 2 seed six times ... This is Kentucky's first appearance in the first round since 1989 ... At 21-5 in SEC Tournament play, Tubby Smith is third in league tournament wins. Smith trails only Kentucky's Adolph Rupp (57-6) and Alabama's Wimp Sanderson (25-7) ... UK Associate Head Coach David Hobbs has a 33-11 SEC Tournament record (with 7 titles), including his time as an assistant and head coach at Alabama (1985-98) and as an assistant at UK.
At least one Kentucky player has been named the SEC All-Tournament team in 12 of the last 14 years. A Wildcat has been named tournament MVP 13 times since the renewal (1979).
WILDCATS PLAY ON OPENING DAY
Kentucky will play on the opening day of the 2006 SEC Tournament for the first time since the first season of the renewal in 1979. The Wildcats have earned a first-round bye in every tournament since the league split into divisions and implemented its current postseason tournament format that allows first-round byes for four teams in 1992.
CURRENT CATS IN THE SEC TOURNEY
Twelve current Wildcats have SEC Tournament experience, led by senior Ravi Moss, who has played in seven tournament games.
Three-time All-American, Olympic Gold Medalist and two-time NCAA Champion Ralph Beard will represent the Wildcats this week at the SEC Tournament as the school's "Legend." Each school annually nominates a former player to be recognized at the tournament. The player is honored at halftime of his team's first game before the entire group is recognized between semifinal games Saturday. Beard, known as one of the best guards in Kentucky history, played for the Wildcats from 1946-49, helping UK to NCAA titles in 1948 and 1949 as a member of "The Fabulous Five." He was named All-SEC four times and was on the SEC All-Tournament team in four consecutive years. He totaled 1,517 career points, which still ranks 14th in the UK record books. After helping the Wildcats win their first-ever NCAA title, he and his Kentucky teammates captured Olympic gold in 1948. They returned the following year to post a 32-2 record and take the title again. Beard is retired from the wholesale drug business and living in Lousiville, Ky.
BIG BLUE LOVES MUSIC CITY
Kentucky is 63-25 all-time in Nashville and has gone 6-0 in SEC Tournament games played in the Music City. UK is also 12-2 in Nashville when not playing hometown Vanderbilt. UK won the 1984 tournament, played at Vanderbilt's Memorial Gymnasium, en route to the Final Four. The Cats also won the 2001 SEC Tournament at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. UK is 5-0 all-time at the GEC. In addition to winning all three SEC Tournament games in 2001, the Big Blue won NCAA Tournament first (vs. IUPUI) and second (vs. Utah) round games there in 2003.
WILDCAT FANS TO RALLY IN NASHVILLE The Nashville area chapter of the UK Alumni Association is holding a pep rally prior to UK's first-round game on Thursday. The group invites all Wildcat fans to meet at the Wildhorse Saloon on Second Avenue from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday. Admission is $15 at the door and fans will enjoy entertainment from the UK mascot, pep band, dance team and cheerleaders. Special guests include former Kentucky Wildcat Jeff Sheppard.