Kentucky Basketball: The 5 Best Single-Game Performances in Wildcats History

By (Featured Columnist) on June 6, 2013

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To say Kentucky basketball has seen a couple of impressive single-game performances is an understatement. When stars like Dan Issel, Anthony Davis, Antoine Walker and Kenny Walker wearing the blue and white, the history is storied.

However, as there is with any list, there can only be so many that make the cut. This slideshow will take a look at the five greatest single-game performances in the Wildcats history. Will fan-favorites Tayshaun Prince and Nerlens Noel make the cut?

Let's find out.

5. Kenny Walker Doesn't Miss a Shot in the Big Dance

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Kenny Walker didn't miss a shot from the field during a second-round game against Western Kentucky in the 1986 NCAA tournament.

Walker poured in 32 points by going 11-of-11 from the field. The title may be a little misleading as Walker did miss from the free-throw line, but not many times. He went 10-of-13 from the charity stripe during Kentucky's 71-64 win.

It has yet to be reciprocated by another Wildcat and adds to the lore of Kenny 'Sky' Walker at Kentucky.  

4. Nerlens Noel Hosts a Block Party

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Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Nerlens Noel put his hand print on Kentucky basketball and Ole Miss' at the same time during his short 2012-13 season.

Noel set a school record by swatting away 12 blocks on Jan. 30, 2013 against No. 16 Ole Miss.

The star freshman proved a game can be great despite being limited on the offensive side of the floor. Noel only attempted one shot during the game. What might be the most impressive part of this game is he recorded five of his 12 blocks after picking up his fourth foul.

With all the great athletic big men that came through Kentucky, there was no one more impressive than Noel on the defensive side of the ball.

3. Dan Issel Torches Ole Miss

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Dan Iseel was the most prolific scorer in Kentucky basketball history. He also may be the greatest player to ever play in Lexington.

However, one night stands out above all for the school's all-time leading scorer.

Issel poured in 53 points in a 120-85 victory over Ole Miss on February 7,1970. He didn't miss a shot from the free-throw line, going 7-of-7 while shooting a mind-blowing 23-of-34 from the field that night.

The 53 points broke the school's individual game record that was previously held by Cliff Hagan, who scored 51 points in a game.

Issel wasn't just a scoring machine this night though. What's often forgotten is the 19 rebounds he grabbed in the win.

2. Jodie Meeks One Ups Issel

Dan Issel held the single-game scoring record, which was mentioned in the previous slide, for 39 years until Jodie Meeks came along.

The Norcross, Ga., native torched rival Tennessee for 54 points in a 90-72 victory on Jan. 13, 2009.

Meeks played in 39 of the 40 minutes and went 15-of-22 from the field, including 10-of-15 from behind the arc. He also didn't miss from the free-throw line, where he went 14-of-14.

Much like Issel's big night, it wasn't just a scoring night for Meeks. He hauled in eight rebounds and kicked out four assists.

The 54 points by Meeks was also the most points scored in an SEC game since Chris Jackson from LSU tallied 55 against Ole Miss in 1989.

However, the 54 points weren't enough to put Meeks as the most impressive single-game performance in Kentucky's history.

1. The Goose Goes off to Win It All

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Jack 'Goose' Givens put on the most impressive single-game performance in the one game that mattered the most. He scored 41 points to help lead Kentucky to a 94-88 victory over Duke in the 1978 NCAA championship game.

It was the second highest total in the title game, only three behind Bill Walton set in 1973.

Givens scored the last 16 points of the first half for Kentucky, bringing his first-half total up to 23 points. For whatever reason Duke did not come out of its zone, allowing Givens to continue to shoot open mid-range jumpers and attack the offensive glass for tip-ins to pour in another 18 points in the second half.

Givens' helped lead the Wildcats to their first title in over 20 years and the school's fifth championship in its history.

When you take in the magnitude of the game, the overall performance and how it is remembered in Kentucky's storied history, there was not a better single-game effort than that of the Goose.

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