Thousands riot after University of Kentucky beats rival Louisville www.privateofficer.com
Lexington KY April 2 2012 Thousands of raucous fans swarmed streets near the University of Kentucky campus Saturday night, setting couches ablaze and overturning cars after the Wildcats beat rival Louisville in a Final Four matchup that had riveted the state.
Many streets had been blocked off around Kentucky’s campus to make way for the crowds, but sirens blared and police began shutting down more streets as the blazes broke out.
Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, said police made fewer than 10 arrests and that a few injuries have been reported.
“Things have not gotten out of control,” she said in a telephone interview. By about 10 p.m. CDT — nearly three hours after the game had ended — crowds were dispersing, Straub added.
Twitter feeds reported police in riot gear moved in to disperse crowds as some people on the streets were overturning, vandalizing vehicles, and smashing glass bottles.
Disappointed Louisville fans at a pizzeria near the edge of campus were quiet after the loss, but swiftly moved outside and began chanting “C-A-R-D-S” while waving school banners and flags with about 100 others.
A few hours before Saturday’s tipoff, Kentucky and Louisville fans were getting ready in bars, homes and even wedding receptions.
“We had no way of knowing that the big game would be the same day as the wedding,” Louisville fan said Sean Glenn as he stood on the steps of a church near the University of Louisville campus minutes after his cousin was wed.
Glenn, a Louisville fan, said there would be a television at the reception, and he fully expected to catch the game “here and there.” While the bride wore white and the bridesmaids lavender, Glenn chose his attire to show his Cardinal pride: a red shirt and a red tie.
Seventy miles away, in the University of Kentucky’s home of Lexington, roads around the perimeter of campus were closed hours before the game.
“We got here at 11 (a.m.),” Kentucky alumnus and fan Alex Fossom said from his table at the Shamrock Bar & Grille in Lexington. Fossom and his fellow Kentucky fans were playing cards to pass the time before the early evening tipoff.
Courtside celebrities: Actress Ashley Judd, a longtime Kentucky fan, was sitting in the front row behind the Wildcats’ bench on Saturday.
“It’s just wonderful for the state,” she said. “This is like the good ol’ days. This is about history, it’s about family. It’s very special.”
Rapper Jay-Z, another Kentucky fan, sat near Judd.
Jayhawking: Travis Releford stepped into the spotlight when the Kansas stars faded, his performance as much as any other the reason the Jayhawks are playing for a national championship.
The junior guard from Kansas City, Mo., had 15 points and six rebounds Saturday night, helping out on both ends of the floor to boost the Jayhawks to a 64-62 victory over Ohio State.
The win wouldn’t have been possible without Releford, who helped shut down Ohio State’s perimeter offense down the stretch and made good on four straight foul shots. The first two with less than 3 minutes left made it 56-55, and the second pair made it 62-59 with 1:13 remaining.
“I just went to the line, relaxed, took a deep breath, just did what I’ve been doing all year,” he said. “I felt very confident before I even let the ball go.”
Nice seats: Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo had no idea why he was sitting in the front row of a section of Louisville fans, especially since the Cardinals ended his season last weekend.
Every coach who has won a national championship was given seats in the first row behind the media at the Superdome, Izzo said. It was a new gesture by the NCAA this season.
Joining Izzo were North Carolina Coach Roy Williams, Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim, former Kentucky Coach Tubby Smith and former Louisville Coach Denny Crum.