The shot heard 26 years later: The history of the Duke-UK rivalry

Guard Isaiah Briscoe of the Kentucky Wildcats goes for a layup during the State Farm Champions Classic against the Duke Blue Devils at the United Center in Chicago, IL on Tuesday November 17, 2015. Photo by Michael Reaves

It’s March 28, 1992.

George H.W. Bush is the president of the United States, Wayne’s World is one of the most popular movies in the country and you’ve got Pearl Jam playing on the radio.

Kentucky and Duke are playing in East Regional Final of the NCAA tournament, fighting for a spot in the Final Four. The Wildcats and Blue Devils have gone neck and neck and neither team could seal the win in regulation— but there are 2.1 seconds left on the clock and the defending national champion Duke is trailing by just one point.

Grant Hill takes the ball out under the basket and throws the ball down the court and into the hands of Christian Laettner, who’s waiting for it slightly in front of the free-throw line.

He fakes right.

Dribbles once.

Turns, pulls up for a contested mid-range jumper and sinks it.

The Duke Blue Devils move onto the Final Four and break the hearts of Kentucky fans into a million little pieces, and Laettner is now the most hated man in America.

Twenty-six years later and the Kentucky-Duke rivalry is still one of the strongest in all of college basketball— even though the two teams hardly ever play each other.

The Wildcats will face the Blue Devils in their first regular-season game of the season this year at the State Farm Champions Classic in Indianapolis, and it’s a pretty big deal considering the history.

The overall record between the two teams is 12-9, with Kentucky on the winning end of the statistic. It’s been three years since the two teams have played each other, the last time being in 2015 at the Champions Classic when Kentucky won 74-63.

On men’s basketball media day, Coach John Calipari called the Nov. 6 matchup “a hard game” for both teams.

“It’s just a hard game out of the gate playing a program that has really good players and is really well-coached and is not intimidated by the scenery,” Calipari said. “But it also wakes you up early in the morning.”

Calipari emphasized that it’s going to be early for both teams and neither one will be fully developed, but his players are going to prepare for it like they would any other game.

“I would say that game will be just another game for us at that point unless we win. Then it’s huge. It’s a huge game,” Calipari said.

Other than the fact that these two teams historically hate each other, Nov. 6 technically will be nothing more than a regular-season game. However, you could say that with each Kentucky win over Duke, Big Blue Nation hates Laettner a little less.

But probably not.