Smith bringing High Point team to Rupp Friday

Published 9:52 am Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Former Kentucky coach Tubby Smith is now the head coach at High Point and will bring his team to Rupp Arena Friday to play Kentucky. Before the game, Smith will have his jersey retired.

Smith led UK to the 1998 national championship in his first season as head coach. Kentucky had a dramatic 17-point comeback against Duke in the final 10 minutes of the South Region to get to the Final Four.

Kentucky won at least 22 games in each of Smith’s 10 seasons and had a 263-83 record that included five regular-season SEC titles and five SEC Tournament championships. His teams never failed to make the NCAA Tournament and had a 23-9 mark in NCAA play.

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Smith was also a three-time National Coach of the Year (1998, 2003, 2005).

“I will be honest, in my experiences with him, and I have known him for a long time, he is an unbelievably nice person. He is one of the nicest people I have been associated with in this profession. I am happy for him,” Kentucky assistant coach Bruiser Flint said.

“You look back, he did a great job here. It’s nice they are going to honor him. It is deserved. He is a very kind person, a great guy to talk to. Just a very great person and great coach.”

Smith never made another Final Four after winning the 1998 national title but had three teams — 1999, 2003, and 2005 — reach the Elite Eight.

“I realize he won the national championship but they went to four or five Elite Eights, too,” Flint said. “When you look at that you say, ‘Wow. He had a hell of a career here.’

“He definitely deserves to have his jersey up there (in Rupp Arena). He accomplished a lot. It’s a tough job. The expectations are always high but when you look back, you have to say he did an unbelievable job.”