On this day 77 years ago, Kentucky fell, 45-40, to Ohio State at Alumni Gymnasium. The loss was the Wildcats’s second-straight loss, dropping them to 2-2 early in the 1942-43 campaign. Ohio State rebounded from a 20-17 halftime deficit off the backs of Fred Miller’s game-high 14 points and 11 more from Max Gecowets, with Marvin Akers doing his part for Kentucky, scoring 12 for the home team.
Little did Big Blue Nation know it witnessed Kentucky’s last loss in Lexington for more than a decade. The Wildcats wouldn’t lose at home again until Jan. 8, 1955, in a 59-58 heartbreaker to Georgia Tech. The 129-game home winning streak is the longest in NCAA history and one of the most unbreakable records on the books. In an era where games were very seldom televised and fans didn’t travel to away games as they do now, many Kentucky fans only saw Wildcat wins until the Yellow Jackets ended the streak.
“We caught Kentucky off guard that night,” Georgia Tech head coach John “Whack” Hyder told Sports Illustrated about the game in 1994. “It was the first time I ever saw grown people cry over a basketball loss. They just sat there, too shocked to move.”
The Spin on the Kentucky Home Winning Streak and 1943
Home to Kentucky basketball from 1924-1950, the 2,800 seat arena hosted 249 Wildcat wins and only 24 Wildcat losses.
Nicknamed “Big Train,” Akers played at Kentucky from 1940-1943, compiling 462 total points in 71 games. He was named First Team All-SEC in the 1940-41 and 1942-43 seasons and featured on the Kentucky baseball team. After graduation, Akers fought in World War II in Europe as a combat officer with the 5th Infantry Division and received the Purple Heart Medal. Following his service, he worked in trades in Indiana and Kentucky. Akers passed away at 91 on Feb. 27, 2012, a little more than a month before his beloved Wildcats would win the school’s eighth men’s basketball national championship.
1943 NCAA Tournament
Wyoming defeated Georgetown, 46-34, to conclude the fifth NCAA Tournament. The Cowboys knocked off Oklahoma and Texas in its first two games of the tournament to earn a spot in the championship game. The victory provided Wyoming with its first and only men’s basketball title. Neither Kentucky nor Ohio State qualified for the tournament.
1943 Pop Culture
Mussolini resigned Sept. 8, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League was created by the Chicago Cubs owner Philip K. Wrigley in May, the Jefferson Memorial was dedicated in April, “Paper Doll” by The Mills Brothers topped the music charts for the year.