Kentucky’s (recent) NIT history

Back when the NIT was considered on par if not more prestigious than the NCAA Tournament, Kentucky won the New York tourney in 1946 and lost in the title game in 1947.

Since 1951, however, the Cats have played in the post-season NIT just three times.

* After losing to UCLA in the 1975 national title game, Kentucky won the 1976 NIT. A 10-10 team, the Cats caught fire to win their final 10 games, including victories over Niagara, Kansas State, Providence and UNC-Charlotte to take the championship.

Sophomore center Rick Robey, who played a large role in UK’s trip to the Final Four as a freshman in 1974-75, missed all but 12 games in 1975-76 after suffering a knee injury. He did not play in the NIT.

A side note, that UNC-Charlotte team that lost to UK in the NIT final was coached by former Transy coach Lee Rose and led by Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell, who scored 24 points in the loss to UK. It lost to Marquette in the Final Four the next season.

* After winning the NCAA Tournament in 1978, the 1979 team ened up in the NIT where it lost to Clemson 68-67 in overtime in a first-round game at Rupp Arena.

* The 2008-09 team, Billy Gillispie’s second and final team, also played in the NIT. The Cats opened with a 70-60 win over UNLV at Memorial Coliseum. Kentucky then won 65-63 at Creighton, but lost 77-67 at Notre Dame in what turned out to be Gillispie’s final game as the Kentucky coach.

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