No. 1 losing to an unranked team not as rare as some might think

Jerry Tipton, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Basketball

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After unranked Evansville beat No. 1 Kentucky in Rupp Arena on Tuesday, Sam Cunliffe said what he and his teammates accomplished was "amazing." And "unbelievable." And "surreal."

But it wasn't unprecedented.

No. 1-ranked teams have lost to unranked opponents 63 times since The Associated Press began ranking the top 25 teams in the 1948-49 season. Of those 63 games, 32 were played on the No. 1 team's home court.

Kentucky is no stranger to a home-court advantage and loftiest of ranking not resulting in victory.

The 67-64 loss to Evansville was the third time a No. 1-ranked Kentucky team lost to an unranked opponent in Lexington.

No. 1 UK lost in Memorial Coliseum to unranked Georgia Tech, 59-58, on Jan. 8, 1955. Despite the loss, Kentucky remained No. 1 for another month.


Unranked Auburn beat No. 1 Kentucky, 53-52, in Rupp Arena on Jan. 9, 1988. Sophomore John Caylor made the winning 3-point shot for Auburn with 10 seconds left. UK would not again be ranked first until January of 1993.

Other times an unranked opponent has shocked the college basketball world by beating the No. 1-ranked team include:

-- Chaminade, an NAIA school, beating No. 1 Virginia, 77-72, in Honolulu on Dec. 24, 1982.

-- Villanova beating defending national champion Georgetown 66-64 in the 1985 NCAA Tournament finals, which was played in Rupp Arena.


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