The 1998-99 Kentucky Wildcats fought valiantly to defend their national title, but fell short, losing to an excellent Michigan State squad 66-73 in the Elite Eight in St. Louis. The highlight of the regular season was a showdown with the dangerous Maryland Terrapins, a game won by Kentucky 103-91. The team endured some early-season upsets against Pittsburgh and Louisville along with a February slump which saw consecutive road losses to Florida, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee. To their credit, they shook these losses off and gelled in March to win the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Atlanta convincingly. They entered the NCAA Tournament on a roll and subsequently dispatched a number of good teams, including a classic overtime contest with perennial power Kansas.
The seniors, Scott Padgett, Wayne Turner and Heshimu Evans each sparkled at times during the season but also endured some costly slumps. Padgett and Turner each joined the 1000 point club. Turner finished his amazing career fourth at UK in assists, first in steals and set a collegiate record for games played with 151.
Others who stepped up on the team included Michael Bradley who assumed the starting center position and played so well on the offensive side of the floor that he never relinquished it and Jamaal Magloire who turned around his attitude and game in the latter stages of the season and became a seasoned veteran on the young team. Their play offset the unfortunate loss of Nazr Mohammed to the NBA draft. The freshmen, especially Tayshaun Prince, Desmond Allison and Souleymane Camara shined at times during the season and promise to be important contributors in the future.
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|Scott Padgett||Heshimu Evans||Wayne Turner|
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