LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- As most people expected, Kentucky blew out Mississippi State 85-55 Wednesday night, after the 1996 national championship team received new rings during a halftime ceremony at Rupp Arena.
The current Cats (20-8, 11-4 SEC) had all five starters in double figures, led by Ryan Harrow's 19 points, to dismantle a depleted Bulldogs (7-20, 2-13 SEC) squad left only with eight available players for the game and even less on scholarship healthy.
It's not a win that will do anything to help UK's NCAA tournament chances, but John Calipari made note of the difference in outlook for his team just a short time after being blown out by 30 at Tennessee February 16th.
"The coffin was nailed shut, and the dirt was thrown on us," said Calipari, after the game. "What's just happened in 10 days? They're feeling good about themselves, and they should. I'm proud of them."
As for the Cats of the past honored at the half, the question is whether this was a players only function or would the '96 Kentucky coaching staff also be receiving their new 1996 championship rings?
"I don't know if they made them for the coaches or not," said Calipari. "They may have."
Eric Crawford asked Rick Pitino Wednesday night, after Louisville's game at DePaul, whether he thought he'd be getting a ring. His answer?
I doubt Pitino will be waiting by the mailbox.
UPDATE: According the UK Media Services, it is their understanding that Rick Pitino already has a 1996 national championship ring from the university. We'll try to confirm with Pitino.
DeWayne Peevy at UK tells me from his research it's a bit of a mystery as to why the 1996 players never received rings from the school, in addition to the gold NCAA issued rings every championship team gets (including Pitino and coaches).
Until the process began with these new rings in the summer, many in Lexington just assumed the '96 players received them.
After finding out they hadn't, it wasn't certain the '96 players were allowed to get rings from the school, but it turned out the '95 UCLA championship team got them. Peavy's theory is the rings may have been too expensive for the school to have made in 1996.
We do know Pitino received the gold NCAA-issued ring. Whether he received a school-issued ring back in the day or had one made on his own, stay tuned.
Click on the links below for raw interviews from members of the 1996 UK National Championship team: