Flashback to the last time UK played in the Scottrade Center


UK forward Julius Randle dunks the ball overtop of Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin while UK guard Aaron Harrison yells in the background during the first half of the UK vs. Florida men’s basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, February, 15, 2014. Photo by Jonathan Krueger | Staff

It has been almost four years since Kentucky last played in the Scottrade Center, host site of this year’s SEC Tournament, but that one game four years ago is one of the more memorable and historic ones in recent memory for Kentucky basketball.

That game was the second round matchup of the 2014 NCAA Tournament between No. 1 seeded Wichita State and No. 8 seeded Kentucky, which the Cats won 78-76 en route to their Final Four run. That game may feel like it was a long time ago, but for some, it’s easy to remember the events that took place on that day.

“I actually remember a lot from that game, that was probably a top-three game that I played in in college,” said Aaron Harrison, who was a freshman on that 2014 team and is now playing on USA’s World Cup qualifying team. “It was just two great teams going against each other.”

Harrison was the one who guarded Fred Van Vleet when he attempted a three-pointer when Wichita State was trailing by two in the final seconds.

Van Vleet ultimately missed the shot, which sent Kentucky into the Sweet 16.

“The shot was in slow motion, I was just hoping he didn’t make it,” said Julius Randle, who was standing in the paint as the ball was heading towards the rim. “Luckily for us, he didn’t make it and I just remember – I mean I came to Kentucky with Dakari (Johnson) and Dakari was on the court with me and me and Dakari just celebrated, hugging it out, excited that we get to go to the next round.”

Harrison said he has run into Van Vleet a couple times during his professional career, but the two have never talked about that game or the shot Van Vleet missed to end Wichita State’s season.

“They had feelings about it,” Harrison said.

What was a bad memory for the Shockers is a good memory for the Cats, and members of that year’s squad talk about it any chance they get.

“I was with Dakari probably like a month ago when we played down in Oklahoma City, or if I see James (Young) or the twins anywhere we talk all the time,” said Randle, who had 13 points in that game. “That’s something that’s going to have us connected forever.”

Connections are one of the benefits players get when they come to Kentucky. Whether he played for Rick Pitino, Joe B. Hall or John Calipari, any player that wore a Kentucky jersey is automatically connected to any other Kentucky player outside of Rupp Arena.

The same is true for the 2014 team and this year’s team, who have a lot in common. Both teams are mostly led by freshmen, rebound the ball well and have struggled during SEC play.

“I think we had a different skillset but I definitely see how they’re trying to find their self and we definitely did the same thing,” Harrison said. “We struggled a lot (in) conference play, and that’s what they had.”

The 2014 team ended its regular season by losing three of its last four games, including a 19-point loss to Florida on the road to close out the season. The Cats then went into the SEC Tournament as the No. 2 seed, and made a run all the way to the SEC championship game before losing to Florida by one.

That run in the SEC Tournament showed what that team was capable of doing before going on its memorable run in the NCAA Tournament.

“Going through the SEC Tournament gave us confidence,” Harrison said.

Kentucky fans are hoping a similar thing happens to this year’s team, which will be going into the SEC Tournament as the No. 4 seed. If Kentucky were to make a run in the SEC or NCAA Tournament, many would likely compare it to the run that the 2014 team made.

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However, the run the 2014 team made was historic and will forever be in the hearts of UK fans. The second round game against Wichita State was a main highlight of that run that is also remembered closely by the players who made it.

“It’s probably one or two (ranking of NCAA Tournament games,) between that game and – the Wisconsin game was super competitiveness as well,” Randle said. “Those are probably one or two and then the Louisville game being the third one.”