29 Years Ago: Cajun Basketball Shocks Kentucky
This Sunday, December 23, will mark a pretty cool anniversary in Louisiana Ragin' Cajun basketball history.
On that date, 29 years ago, Louisiana recorded one of the more memorable regular season non-conference wins in school history, defeating the Kentucky Wildcats.
The game took place on December 23, 1989, two days before Christmas, in the championship game of the University of Kentucky Invitational.
The triumph also came against Rick Petino, a surefire Hall of Famer, who was in his first season as the Wildcats' head coach.
But many fans will remember the game because it was a shootout, with Louisiana (then USL) capturing a wild 116-113 overtime win.
The Cajuns made it into the finals of the two-day, four-team tournament, by squeaking past Cincinnati, 89-88, to improve to 6-0 on the season, while Kentucky was victorious over Portland, 88-81, to improve to 5-2, with their only losses coming to Kansas and Indiana, who were both nationally-ranked.
The two teams went back-and-forth the entire game, trading three-point shots and transition points, exciting the crowd of 20,112 on hand at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.
The game was close throughout, tied at halftime, 49-49, before being even at the end of regulation, 103-103.
The teams shot a combined 84 3-point attempts, which set a new NCAA record at the time.
Louisiana trailed, 113-107, when Kevin Brooks swept through the lane for a hook shot with 1:33 to go, before Aaron Mitchell connected on a 3-pointer to trim the margin to 113-112 at 1:11.
Kentucky worked the shot clock down, but John Pelphrey missed on a short baseline jumper with 32 seconds to go to set up Louisiana's game-winning basket.
Louisiana called timeout with 23 seconds left, and on the inbounds play, Marcus Stokes scored on a lay-up, giving them a 114-113 lead with :22 left.
After Kentucky`s Sean Woods missed a jumper in the lane with :06 left, Stokes sank two free throws after getting fouled going for the rebound, widening their advantage to 116-113.
Louisiana killed Kentucky`s chances for a tie when Mitchell fouled Woods at mid-court with :03 left. Woods missed the first free throw, and time ran out, as the Cajuns left with the tournament title, and a memorable overtime win.
Brooks led the way for the Cajuns, finishing with 29 points and 14 rebounds, while Mitchell added 23 points and 10 assists.
Stokes was also solid, finishing with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while Sydney Grider contributed 22 points and 10 boards.
In a losing cause for Kentucky, Pelphrey, who went on to coach at South Alabama and Arkansas, finished with 24 points.
Louisiana jumped out to a 14-1 start that season, with their only loss coming at the hands of Cleveland St.
Unfortunately, the Cajuns lost their American South Conference opener to UNO, the beginning of a 5-game losing skid, and struggled in conference play.
Coach Marty Fletcher's squad still finished with an overall mark of 20-9, but finished at 4-6 in league play, while Kentucky only finished at 14-14 that season.
Still, many Cajun basketball fans will never forget the overtime victory of Kentucky almost 30 years ago.