Frank Haith could record rare feat at Rupp Arena

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Thanks to an alert e-mailer, who points out that Missouri coach Frank Haith will be trying to join a very exclusive club on Saturday night when he brings his Tigers to Lexington.

Haith could be only the second opposing coach to bring two different teams into Rupp Arena and beat Kentucky.

A quick check of the results appears to confirm that the only coach to pull off that feat is Dennis Felton. As the coach at Western Kentucky, Felton coached the Hilltoppers to a 64-52 win over Tubby Smith and Kentucky in Rupp in the 2001-02 season-opener. That helped Felton get the job at Georgia, where he coached the Bulldogs to a 65-57 win at Rupp over the Cats in 2004.

As for Haith, he led Miami to a 73-67 win over Billy Gillispie’s Kentucky team on December 6, 2008 at Rupp. This will be Haith’s first trip back to Rupp since then as a head coach and his first game against UK as the Missouri coach.

Several men have coached two different teams against Kentucky in Rupp. A few have even won with one team. Except for Felton, however, none were able to pull off the feat with a second team.

As the coach at Alabama, former UK athletics director C.M. Newton beat Kentucky 94-71 on February 23, 1974 in Rupp Memorial Coliseum. He repeated the feat on January 12, 1980 when his Tide beat the Cats 78-64 in Rupp Arena. As the head coach at Vanderbilt, however, Newton was 0-8 in trips to Rupp Arena.

Eddie Fogler brought teams from first Vanderbilt and then South Carolina into Rupp. In fact, one of Fogler’s biggest wins as a head coach came on March 2, 1997 when his Gamecocks beat UK 72-66 to win the SEC East regular-season title. It was Fogler’s only win in Lexington in eight tries as the South Carolina coach.

At Vanderbilt, however, Fogler was 0-4 in Rupp. Just once in those four tries did the Commodores manage to lose by single-digits, that being a 58-50 loss on January 19, 1991. The other three trips, Vandy lost 100-73, 80-56 and 82-67.

As the coach at Tennessee, Don DeVoe won his first trip to Rupp, leading the Vols to a 66-55 win over Kentucky on January 20, 1979. Alas, DeVoe lost his next 10 games against UK in Lexington. He coached Florida for a season, but lost to the Cats 89-81 in Rupp on January 10, 1990.

I thought maybe Roy Williams had beaten Kentucky as coach of both Kansas and North Carolina. Turned out I was wrong. Williams has beaten UK as the Tar Heels coach, winning 83-79 on December 3, 2005 and 86-77 on December 1, 2007. Williams is 2-3 as the UNC coach vs. UK at Rupp.

Williams coached Kansas at Rupp Arena on December 8, 1990. If you remember, that was Rick Pitino’s second season as the Kentucky coach. The first season under Pitino, undermanned Kentucky was obliterated at Kansas, losing 150-95. The next year, the Cats extracted some revenge by beating Williams and the Jayhawks 88-71. In fact, Pitino did not lose again to Williams at Kansas, winning three straight, after that lopsided loss in Lawrence.

If I’ve missed anyone, let me know.

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