As Kentucky gets ready for its Final Four matchup against Connecticut on Saturday, SI takes a look back at classic photos of the Wildcats. A second-straight NCAA title was enough to make Adolph Rupp break out his victory dance after the Wildcats beat Oklahoma A & M 46-36 in the championship game. Groza (No. 15) was Kentucky's leading scorer, averaging more than 20 points per game during the year, and Barnstable added six points per game.
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Adolph Rupp and Wildcats
Coach Adolph Rupp is honored for the team's 115-game home winning streak. The streak began in 1943 and lasted 130 games, until Georgia Tech won in Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 8, 1955. The streak still stands as the longest in NCAA history.
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A two-sport star at Kentucky, the 6-foot-5-inch center was a consensus All-America as a senior in 1964 and led the school to SEC titles that season and in '62. Nash, who earned his nickname because of his blond hair, spent time with the Lakers and ABA's Kentucky Colonels and saw limited professional baseball action with the White Sox and Twins.
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Before he became one of the winningest coaches in NBA history, Riley was the 1966 SEC Player of the Year for the Wildcats. That year's team totaled 27 wins, but it's most famous for one of its two losses -- to Texas Western in the championship game, which inspired the movie Glory Road. Things went from bad to worse for Riley in his senior season, when the team finished 13-13, the worst record during Adolph Rupp's career.
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Starting Five With Cheerleaders
The cheerleading squad and the 1967-68 team pose for a team portrait.
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Another future NBA coach who donned the blue and white, Issel is the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,138 points in his career. He led the Wildcats to three-straight SEC championships and in his senior season, averaged 33.9 points per game and was a consensus All-America. Although Kentucky went 71-12 in Issel's three seasons, it never advanced out of the Mideast Regional.
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In the 1978 championship game against Duke, Goose Givens shot the Wildcats to a title. He scored a career-high 41 points and earned the tournament MVP as the Wildcats won their first championship in 20 years. Givens, who averaged 16.6 points per game in his Kentucky career, spent three seasons with the Atlanta Hawks and five playing professionally in Japan.
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Now better known as the man drafted one spot ahead of Michael Jordan, Bowie's time at Kentucky foreshadowed his injury-riddled professional career. After averaging double figures as a freshman and sophomore, he suffered leg injuries that kept him out for much of the next two seasons. He returned in 1983 to score 10 points per game as the Wildcats returned to the Final Four for the first time since the 1978 title.
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Nicknamed the "Big Dipper," Turpin led the Wildcats in scoring during his junior and senior years. He was drafted sixth overall by the Washington Bullets and played five seasons in the NBA. On July 8, 2010, Turpin was found dead in his home of a self-inflicted gun wound. His death was ruled a suicide. He was 49.
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The second-leading scorer in Kentucky history and a two-time All-America, Walker led the Wildcats to three Sweet 16 appearances, including the 1984 Final Four. He battled knee injuries during his NBA career, spent mostly with the Knicks, but he won the 1989 Slam Dunk Contest.
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The year before Mashburn's arrival, Kentucky went 14-14 in Rick Pitino's first season. In Mashburn's three seasons, Kentucky went 81-17 and reached the 1993 Final Four. Mashburn averaged 18.8 points per game in his Kentucky career, was the 1993 SEC Player of the Year and helped set the stage for future runs at the national title.
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The 1995-96 Wildcats were supposed to have too much talent -- too many egos -- for their own good. Instead, led by point guard Delk, Kentucky earned the school's sixth national title. Delk drained seven three-pointers in the 1996 championship game against Syracuse, en route to a 29-point, 10-assist performance and the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player award.
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Rick Pitino and Derek Anderson
Pitino welcomed Anderson, a transfer from Ohio State, to the Blue and White, and Anderson came up big in the 1996 title game to give the coach his first ring. Syracuse twice closed Kentucky's lead to two, but an Anderson three-pointer helped the Wildcats close out a season that included a 27-game winning streak and 16-0 record in the SEC.
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Anthone Epps, Antoine Walker and Ron Mercer
For some Wildcats, the end of their Kentucky careers didn't spell the end of playing for Coach Pitino. Walker was drafted sixth by the Boston Celtics after the 1996 championship and was joined a year later by Mercer and Pitino. But first, Epps, Mercer and Pitino helped the Wildcats return to the title game -- this time an 84-79 loss to Arizona.
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Now an NBA All-Star with the Boston Celtics, Rondo's time at Kentucky was a mixed bag. Although the point guard averaged 11 points per game and piloted the Wildcats to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2006 (his second and final season), it was the first of two straight seasons with double-digit losses, which resulted in Tubby Smith's exit.
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John Wall and John Calipari
It was a natural fit -- the nation's top young point guard and a coach known for mentoring floor generals. After tutoring Derrick Rose, the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, two years before, Calipari spent a year with Wall, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft. Their year together was mostly successful -- an All-America season for Wall and an Elite Eight appearance for Kentucky -- but it ended without a Final Four appearance.
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John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Patrick Patterson and Darius Miller
The nation's top recruiting class, led by Wall, Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins, helped jumpstart the stagnant Kentucky program. Joined by upperclassmen Patterson and Miller, the freshmen led Kentucky to an SEC title, a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and the Elite Eight. But the Wildcats bowed out in the East Regional with a 73-66 loss to West Virginia.
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After beating North Carolina, Kentucky celebrates the school's first Final Four appearance since 1998. The Wildcats will face off against UConn on Saturday night.
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