Beisner has the game breakdown below, but I am too giddy to be objective and break the proceedings down. I would rather celebrate.
I knew tonight was a fan night. I could sense it from the very beginning. There was too much at stake to sit on press row and follow the rules about no cheering and acting as if you hate the world and have seen it all before 1000 times. Tonight was about recognizing the importance of the game and embracing my inner pulling hard for the team. The folks in the arena knew that as well. I am not sure that I have ever been at a Kentucky basketball that had such an “on-edge” feel prior to the game. From the moment I walked in Rupp, you could feel the tension of a fan base that knew that the NCAA Tournament streak, season’s potential and program momentum was really on the line tonight against the Cats’ longest consistent SEC rival of the last decade. The arena was ready and I was too.
For the next two hours, I put aside the ridiculous blogger/journalist hat that I dont really deserve to where and I cheered like I was a kid again….jumping up and down, yelling and clapping as if my force of desire could somehow have an impact on the game. And for that I was rewarded, because the end of tonight’s game was one of the best Rupp Arena experiences in recent years. Because of the tension and game importance, Rupp at times rocked. I have only one other time heard the crowd louder than it was when Butthead missed the three free throws that will remain a part of UK-Florida legacy forever. I have never seen a crowd with a greater sense of urgency, followed by relief than when Meeks hit a 3 to stop a Florida run late and close the game to one possession. And I have never seen a crowd dance, I mean really DANCE like all the blue hairs did TWICE in Rupp tonight….first when the newest dancing sensation “Dancing Man” in the stands did his thing during a timeout and second, when the victory was assured and life was temporarily back to normal in Cat land. It was a great night to be in Rupp and the best atmosphere I can remember since Florida 2003.
And through it all, I remembered how great it is to be a fan. Bobby Perry and I set in the stands and cheered with the collective passion of the Big Blue Nation. When you are jumping and yelling and screaming and clapping, it is easy to forget that you are 30 years old and allegedly a professional that should be over such things. But I dont care. Nights like tonight are why sports are great and why nothing tops being a Kentucky basketball fan. On a day that saw me get up at the crack of dawn and drive across the state and back again, have car trouble and live in the legal world for far too long, it ended in the best way it could have…..in Rupp Arena, as a fan, watching the Cats win a thriller. It doesnt get much better than that.