Former Kentucky coach Tubby Smith is now High Point’s head coach and will bring his team to Rupp Arena on Friday to face Kentucky. Before the match, Smith will have removed his jersey.
Smith led the UK to the 1998 National Championship in his first season as head coach. Kentucky made a spectacular 17-point comeback against Duke in the Southern Region’s final 10 minutes to advance to the Final Four.
Kentucky won at least 22 games in each of Smith’s 10 seasons and had a record of 263-83 which included five SEC regular season titles and five SEC tournament championships. His teams have never failed to compete in the NCAA tournament and have earned a 23-9 score in NCAA game.
Smith has also been named National Coach of the Year three times (1998, 2003, 2005).
“I’ll be honest, in my experiences with him, and I’ve known him for a long time, he’s an incredibly kind person. He’s one of the nicest people I’ve been associated with in this profession. I’m happy for him, ”Kentucky assistant coach Bruiser Flint said.
“You look back, he did a great job here. It’s good that they will pay tribute to him. It is deserved. He’s a very nice person, a great guy to talk to. Just a great person and a great trainer.
Smith never made another Final Four after winning the 1998 national title, but had three teams – 1999, 2003 and 2005 – to reach the Elite Eight.
“I realize he won the national championship, but they also went to four or five Elite Eights,” Flint said. “When you look at this you say, ‘Wow. He’s had a hell of a career here.
“He really deserves to have his jersey up there (at the Rupp Arena). He accomplished a lot. This is a difficult work. Expectations are always high, but when you look back you have to say he did an amazing job.